By Angel Ruelas
Kendrick Lamar and other big name artists go back to their African roots and bring back booming, tribal drums and voices that are filled with pride, hope, and soul.
“Black Panther,” by Kendrick Lamar
A great intro track that captures the feeling that Black Panther is going for with one moment being accompanied by a beautiful piano melody that abruptly turn into rambunctious, tribal drums. Kendrick’s lyrical wordplay and fierce delivery is the icing on top for this track and creates a song that is going to capture your attention once the movie begins.
“All The Stars,” by SZA & Kendrick Lamar
All The Stars is a track that you can’t just listen to one time to fully appreciate. When I first listened to the song starts out simple with a simple string pluck and bass drums playing in the background. As the track develops, layers are being added. From SZA’s sultry voice, to the dramatic violins, it’s simply a lot to take in at once, and that’s not a bad thing.
“X,” ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chains and Saudi
One of the goals for the Black Panther album was to incorporate artists from Africa. The first artist featured on the album is Saudi, a rapper very well known South Africa. His verse was half in Zulu and half in English. Other than that, this track is honestly nothing else but a party banger, and sounds like a regular rap song rather than a song out of a movie soundtrack. With 2 Chainz and Schoolboy Q making appearances, the song was exactly what I was expecting from them in terms of lyrical content: Such as going on about their expensive jewlery and driving their expensive cars in sunny California
“The Ways,” Khalid and Swae Lee
I really enjoyed this track. It’s a simple love ballad about learning about the ways of a strong, independent woman, or in other words, ‘Power Woman’. The song is filled with light string strums with the bass strings riffing in the background along with subdued bass drums. As for vocal performances, the song had its strong and weak points. Nineteen-year-old singer Khalid felt at home coming in with a calm, natural, relaxing voice and a groovy melody. Although Swae Lee, half of Rae Sremmurd, had a little too much effects and autotune going on with his voice, which is odd because I feel that Swae Lee is an underrated vocalist and has made spectacular appearances in the past. I know what he is capable of, although this track is definitely not one of those examples.
“Opps,” by Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples and Yugen Blacroc
‘Opps’ surprised me at first glance. The track started out with surging 808’s and a thumping bassline. I figured this was going to be more of a throwaway/filler electro-house track. Once I digged deeper into the song it turned out to be more of a lyrical exercise among the three rappers. The California natives Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples collaborate with South African native Yugen Blacroc. Two things really caught my attention. Yugen Blacroc completely held his turf in terms of lyrical ability and delivery for his verse. Also, Ludwig Göransson had a role in creating the track, the same guy that helped produce “Redbone” by Childish Gambino, a smash hit that came out in 2016 and continued to top the charts in 2017.
“I Am,” by Jorja Smith
This is a song that I overlooked when I first heard about the tracklist. With all the popular household names featured in this soundtrack, English singer and songwriter Jorja Smith blew me away with her smooth, soulful voice, especially when there is nothing but guitar and a simple bassline to go along with her voice. Smith is an unexpected standout from the rest of the tracklist. She has also made an appearance on Drake’s ‘compilation,’ “More Life” on the track ‘Get It Together.’
“Paramedic!” by SOB x RBE
This track is great for what it is, although I don’t really see how it translates into the “Black Panther” movie. It is a West-Coast anthem that goes over the troubles of growing up in California. It is great to bump in the car for personal listening although, I would like to know why this track was featured on the ‘Black Panther’ tracklist
“Bloody Waters,” by Ab-Soul and Anderson. Paak
Ab-Soul and Paak Anderson are known for their lyrical genius. They haven’t made much noise since they put out their solo efforts in 2016. This is their big comeback and it’s a good one too. The instrumental has drips, splashes and other water-inspired effects throughout the entire song. Yhung T.O.and James Blake add a melodic element as well on the intro and outro of the song.
“King’s Dead,” by Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Future
This was one of the first songs released to the public from the tracklist. On my first listen I didn’t really feel that this track had any relation to the movie. Although after a couple listens I could see the song being a great track for a fight scene with Kendrick and Jay Rock’s fast-paced delivery and Future’s witty lyrics. Definitely isn’t one of the standout tracks for me, although I can see why people enjoy it.
“Pray For Me,” by Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd
This the perfect song to end the soundtrack. It is the ultimate war song. This song displays fear and victory. Being the hero isn’t always easy, and even Kung Fu Kenny has his bad days as he starts his verse with:
“I fight the world, I fight you, I fight myself,
I fight God, just tell me how many burdens left,
I fight pain and hurricanes, today I wept,
I’m tryna fight back tears, flood on my doorsteps.”
He also states that we shouldn’t search for this one grand superhero, because there is a hero within each of us. It’s up to us if we want to change the world in a positive way or not. The Weeknd, an amazing vocalist, did the song justice with a voice of hope in the midst of brash drums and dramatic piano. The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar have proven once again they can be an amazing duo. I admit that I am biased but this song is going to be the song that I am going to be playing when “Black Panther” comes out on DVD. It easily is my favorite song out of the entire tracklist