First of all; not only do we get the Black Panther movie next week, but we also get this album, too? All praise to the most high. Can’t ask for much more than that! Anyways, ‘Black Panther: The Album’ was released last night and I’ve been anxiously waiting to listen to it since it was announced. I’ve never really listened to movie soundtracks but this one is different; it’s the Black Panther soundtrack, and it’s rap, and it was curated by Kendrick Lamar and T.D.E. I had to listen to it.
My expectations for this album were reasonably high because of the stars that were involved in making it, but I already knew it wouldn’t disappoint; the artists know the hype for Black Panther is real and there was no way they’d drop a subpar album to go with what will probably be the best [super hero] movie ever. The album is a solid length of 14 songs and runs for 50 minutes. Not too long but not too short, and has just the right amount of tracks.
On the first track, ‘Black Panther’, King Kendrick Lamar raps as if he was King T’Challa a.k.a BLACK PANTHER. On the song, he raps about what he’s the king of, but he’s not only saying he’s the king of the good things in life, but he’s saying he’s the king of the negative parts of life, too. From “King of the winners”, to “King of the bloodshed”. Kendrick, rapping as T’Challa, is the King of everything. But on this song, Kendrick is implying that he, too, is the King of everything. Every other song on this album has a feature except ‘Black Panther’ and it’s no coincidence that it’s the first track either. Kendrick starts the album, and let’s it be known that he is king. Very subtle, but not that subtle.
‘All The Stars’ with Kendrick and SZA is the next song on the album, and I don’t listen to SZA but I know she has a wonderful singing voice and her and Kendrick fit well together. On this song, Kendrick raps and SZA sings over a fast paced beat that you have to dance to. When I first heard it, watching the video, I thought it was okay, but after I listened to it a couple more times, I can see that it is a great song. I think I had to get used to SZA.
‘X’ with Kendrick, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, and Saudi is the third song and this song is a hit. I’ve never heard of Saudi before this but I learned that he is a South African rapper, and in his verse he raps in English and in Zulu, an African language. “Are you on ten yet?” That’s the question asked throughout the song, meaning, are you as high as they are? are you doing what they are? Kendrick, ScHoolboy, 2 Chainz, and Saudi are telling their rivals and doubters that they are on ten, and have been on ten, and they go off over the beat to prove it.
‘The Ways’, the first slow song on Black Panther: The Album features Sway Lee and Khalid and in the song the two artists are serenading their girl over a relaxing beat. Even Sway Lee, who i’m not a fan of, sounds good during his parts, but he had to in order to be included on this major album, so he delivered.
On the track list, ‘Opps’ says ‘Vince Staple, Yugen Blakrok’, but Kendrick Lamar also has a verse and does the hook. On ‘Opps’, which as I’m sure you know, is another term for cops, or, the enemy. And this song is directed at the enemy, whoever that may be for them. They send threats, and talk big. They talk like.. kings, aware that they can’t be touched.
The first time I heard Jorja Smith was on ‘Jorja interlude’, her song from More Life. And I thought her voice was beautiful, and I realized she was from the U.K. I’d have a crush on her if I knew her in real life. Back to the program, though; I was looking forward to hearing ‘I Am’ because of those reasons and once again, she’s prime. This song is more of a song than her interlude was and she delivers angelic melodies over a slow-ish beat with deep bass. She sounds mighty nice.
This was my first time hearing of SOBxRBE, a rap group from California. Their song on ‘Black Panther: The Album’, ‘Paramedics!’, features their artists Slimmy B, Lul G, DaBoii, and Yhung T.O. Based on the type of song ‘Paramedics!’ is, SOBxRBE seems to be a trap group, which is not a problem. On the song, they rap like they run the California streets, they rap like they’ve been in the game for a while, even though they are relatively new. To me, and in general. But that’s good because when you have skills you have to flaunt yourself. How else will you be noticed?
When I hear someone say “bloody water” I imagine sharks about to swarm and start chomping down on the fresh blood. On the song ‘Bloody Waters’ with Ab-Soul, Anderson Paak., and James Blake, Ab is rapping just like that, he is the shark swimming around bloody waters waiting to jump on his weak prey, also known as other rappers, weak rappers, haters. Ab-Soul is saying he’ll down them all. Anderson Paak. switches up tones in the hook, but the message is still the same: warning. I’d say this song is Ab-Souls and the features, Paak. and Blake are both his voices in different tunes and with different feelings.
‘King’s Dead’ with Kendrick, Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake is a fast paced song with two major verses from Jay Rock and Kendrick. Future is himself. This song is another track of going at the opps and sending threats. Kendrick and Jay don’t play. They know who they are compared to everyone else in the game and on this song they make sure everyone hears it.
Zacari really floated on his song with Kendrick Lamar on ‘DAMN.’ called ‘LOVE.’, but that time he was with Kendrick and I haven’t heard a solo song by him before until ‘Redemption Interlude’ and ‘Redemption’ so I wasn’t sure how I’d like them. The former is an interlude so it is very short and doesn’t say much, but Zacari sounds smooth and crisp and it is a good lead up to ‘Redemption’ with himself and Babes Wodumo. This song has tribe vibes, like when you hear it, you’d imagine Native Africans, dancing around a fire, under the moon, wearing their native attire.
‘Seasons’ with Mozzy, Sjava, and Reason is a slow song that sounds like it is wrapping up the album. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this was the last song. Maybe it is and the next two songs after are lowkey bonus tracks. In ‘Seasons’, Sjava raps in his native African language. I don’t know what he’s saying, but he sure sounds cool over the beat. This is a mesmerizing song that, unlike the rest of the album, promotes peace and unity. Mozzy and Reason send good vibes to the listeners and talk about the tough times, but that they made it through them. Like the seasons, their lives changed. Once they told the poverty, jealousy, and negativity to go away.
‘Big Shot’ was the song I was looking forward to the most on ‘Black Panther: The Album’ because, of course, Travis Scott was in it. It’s not a spectacular song like their previous collab on ‘Goosebumps’ but ‘Big Shot’ is still acceptable as a bonus track. The final song, ‘Pray For Me’ with The Weeknd, sounds like it’s more of a Weeknd song that was left off his album ‘Starboy’. I was a fan of The Weeknd but I’m not a fan of his new music much, but I still rate him because he’s from The City. ‘Pray For Me’ isn’t a bad song, and The Weeknd and Kendrick sound good, but it is better as a bonus track.
This was a long review, I know, but I felt like I had to do a song by song review because I had to talk about everything. I have too much respect for Black Panther and what each artist did, to leave any songs out, or just mention them but not do my best to go into them. I think this album represents the voice of the Black Panther, King T’Challa, throughout, but of course it is the voices of the artists rapping, or singing, and they are also referring to themselves in the songs, especially the rap songs. I believe the artists are also telling us to listen to them and act like kings, or queens, too. We have to know who we are and act accordingly. Who has the right to tell us who we are? No body. This album also pays respects to African artists, who many listeners have probably never heard of and they all sound sensational. ‘Black Panther: The album’ was definitely an outstanding album and Kendrick Lamar and T.D.E and all the other artists who were a part of creating it did a super job on making it fit the theme of the movie and relatable for the Culture. I’d rate a 8.8/10 or 4.3/5. I’ll definitely listen to is a lot more. And I can’t wait until next week when Black Panther is finally out in theatres!