Kendrick Lamar Takes His Creativity To Another Level w/ Black Panther: The Album
When it was announced at the top of year that Kendrick Lamar was curating the soundtrack for Marvel’s highly anticipated release of Black Panther, excitement ensued. Take Kendrick’s creativity and ability to create complete bodies of work, along with the first single from the soundtrack “All The Stars”, featuring Lamar and SZA, and expectations where high on this new TDE/Aftermath release. And the music does not disappoint.
Starting off the soundtrack is the title track “Black Panther,” which is the only solo Kendrick record on the project. Over a gloomy beat, Kendrick kicks things off with “King of my city, king of my country, king of my homeland / King of the filthy, king of the fallen, we livin’ again.” Kendrick goes in for about 2 minutes before it’s revealed that Dot is rapping from the perspective of T’Challa. This is noteworthy because on the soundtrack’s second single “King’s Dead,” Dot raps from the perspective of Killmonger. And seeing how these two records are fishy spaced out from each other, it provides the feeling of balance throughout the project. Some records are uplifting and upbeat (“All The Stars,” “The Ways,” “Big Shot”), while others are a bit more menacing (“X,” “Paramedic!,” “Bloody Waters”), which kind of depicts the difference between the two main characters of the film as well.
To Kendrick’s credit, he found a way to have his voice be a consistent presence throughout the soundtrack without it feeling like he used this opportunity to hog all the verses. He can be found either providing hooks, ad-libbing on records or even harmonizing with singers. It adds a cool level of cohesiveness to the project. You can tell a lot of thought was placed into the sound of the album. Most of the production was handled by TDE in-house producer Sounwave (Kendrick has a few production credits himself) and all of the features seem to have been smartly selected based on the sound of the record. Take “Bloody Waters” for example where Ab-Soul and Anderson .Paak connect over a sparse, mellow backdrop or a track like “X” where ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz and Saudi use their high energy to match the beat. Vince Staples rocks out over “Opps” which is stylized in the electro-styled production Vince spit over on his last album Big Fish Theory. Nothing really seems to happen by accident here, like most TDE releases.
The soundtrack has spent several weeks at number one on Billboard’s 200 Album chart along with the two videos (“All The Stars” & “King’s Dead”) from the project seeing millions of views a piece as well as high charting on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. So with all that said I’d say the soundtrack is a success and another win for TDE. Let the #GetTopAnOscar campaign for next year’s Oscars commence.