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REVIEW: Kendrick captures the spirit of Marvel’s Black Panther

Wakanda comes alive

“Kung-Fu” Kendrick Lamar captures the Marvel superhero’s indelible spirit with Black Panther: The Album the brand new soundtrack featuring music from and inspired by the major motion picture, starring Chadwick Bosman as the king and protector of the African nation of Wakanda.

blackpantherostThe soundtrack is curated and almost entirely produced by Kendrick with Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, in collaboration with the film’s director Ryan Coogler.

It opens with the “Black Panther” opening theme, a brief but power-packed introduction told from the perspective of T’Challa, the superhero’s alter-ego, which he contrasts later with a verse from the perspective of Black Panther’s rival, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan.

Perhaps, the best part of the album is the fact that there isn’t a single track that doesn’t include the Grammy Award-winning rapper in some way, shape or form. The lead single, “All of the Stars” featuring SZA, garnered a lot of attention when it was released back in January, peaking at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Less than a month later, fans at noticed how the versions of the song on Apple Music differentiated from its other streaming service counterparts.

The album also features collaborations with TDE labelmate ScHoolboy Q who reunites up with 2 Chainz, for the first time since their 2014 collaboration “WHat THey Want” from his studio album, Oxymoron. It also features South African rapper Saudi, a.k.a. Anele Mbisha, on the track from producers Sounwave & !llmind.

The album winds down for a bit with “The Ways,” a track about love and lust featuring R&B vocalists Kalid and Swae Lee of the rap duo, Rae Sremmurd, who add a layer of harmony to the beat from producer Badbadnotgood. Things quickly shift gears on the glitchy dubstep-fueled track, “Opps,” featuring Vince Staples and South African rapper Yugen Blakrok on the rather invigorating battle anthem.

After her surprise appearance on Drake‘s More Life playlist, last year, English singer Jorja Smith has worked with a lot of collaborators. “I Am” is her first-ever collaboration with Kendrick, though they sound like kindred spirits, on this downtempo melody of chopped beats.

California R&B singer Zacari, whose most recent work includes the single, “LOVE.” from Kendrick’s 2017 album, Damn., makes his first appearance on the track, “Paramedic!” featuring the six-member hip-hop collective SOB x RBE with producers Sounwave, CuBeatz & DJ Dahi.

“Bloody Waters” is really the only that Kendrick seems to have had the least amount of influence on. Co-written by TDE labelmate Ab-Soul, the track features guest appearances from Anderson .Paak & James Blake. “King is Dead” was released back in January, and is slated to be released as the first single from Jay Rock’s yet-to-be-titled project, expected later this year.

Zacari returns to take the lead on the track “Redemption Interlude” by the unknown producer Hykeem Carter, which is followed by “Redemption,” a powerful track featuring South African Gqom musician Babes Wodumo and producer Teddy Walton, and “Seasons,” which combines verses from Mozzy, Sjava & Reason on the beat from Grammy Award-winning producer Frank Dukes.

Ever the “humble” musician, Kendrick rarely if ever goes on about the prestige that comes with being rich and famous… that is until now. “Big Shot” features Travis Scott on the track from producers  Sounwave, CuBeatz, Matt Schaeffer, and Cardo. The album closes with Kendrick’s collaboration with Canadian R&B singer-songwriter, The Weeknd on the track “Pray For Me” from producers Frank Dukes and Doc McKinney.

Overall, the soundtrack has a little bit of everything and is certain to leave fans pumped to see Wakanda brought to life on the big screen.



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