While you’ve probably heard the highly popularized single and watched the video for “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar with SZA (currently #31 on Billboard Hot 100)… Have your ears been blessed by the entirety musical masterpiece that is Black Panther The Album Music From and Inspired By? In preparation for the highly exciting and anticipated Black Panther Marvel Film set to premiere February 15th at a local theater near you, this album is one all rap, trap, hip-hop, and lovers of the African diasporic cultures have to check out. Here’s a video of a breakdown of the Black Panther Family Royal Tree! Although, Kendrick Lamar originally did not plan to work on this project, however, the director Ryan Coogler of the film, a massive Kendrick fan, is quoted saying this in a Complex article about the production of the album:
“At first, he was just going to do a few songs for the film, and then he came in and watched quite a bit of the movie, and the next thing I know, they were booking a studio and they were going at it.” TDE producer Sounwave added, “[During] The Damn Tour, we probably came up with 50 percent of it—the production, the hooks, and ideas. When we got back from the tour in September, that’s when we were able to execute our ideas and reach out to people we respect and whatnot.”
Rarely is it that the fans of Kendrick Lamar Duckworth hear from the genius himself, multimillion dollar worldwide rap sensation, who was born and raised in Compton, California, since his projects from Section.80 to DAMN. speak for him, from a critique of racist America capitalism to the construction of Black masculinity in the same breathe. But, King Kendrick actually tweeted to fans here about being thankful for the opportunity to work on the project.
Kendrick clearly is the real Superhero behind this album as co-producer, with Sounwave also from Top Dawg Entertainment, who has writing credits on all fourteen of the songs on the album and some cameo’s in the film. The lyrics that set the soul on fire, some even in the Zulu language with tribal beats, within Black Panther: The Album embody the tradition of a radical Black political identity that has been championed by Black activists in the United States, like Malcolm X and Nina Simone, yet are current as hell within the context of the police killings of the endless list of young Black boys, increasingly globalized Black Lives Matter movement and 21st century Black freedom politics. Lamar also has curated a group of musicians to be featured on the album, that I can only describe as the musical definition of American Black excellence in hip-hop, rap, trap, r&b, and soul; Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Future, Travis Scott, Vince Staples, Khalid, Zacari, SZA, the Weeknd, Anderson .Paak, and too many more to even list. The representation of the African diaspora is unparalleled not only in the film itself, but the Black English singer Jorja Smith sings on the personal and moving “I Am”; Yugen Blakrok, a female MC from Johannesburg slays with fire bars on the iconic “Oops”; even James Blake sings on a song with K.Dot and Future “Bloody Waters”. Overall, Black Panther The Album Music From and Inspired By is an important cultural piece of what it means for folks who reside somewhere on the African diaspora and the Marvel film Black Panther has officially sold more advanced tickets than any other superhero film released, ever. “What do you stand for?/Are you an activist? What are your city plans for?”