Black Panther Album Review

Penelope Blackwell

Black Panther is an ultimate blockbuster hit; smashing a record of $427 million at box offices. The Black Panther inspired soundtrack curated by hip-hop sensation, Kendrick Lamar, isn’t doing too shabby either. Already grabbing no.1 on Billboard 200.

Kendrick Lamar produced the album along with his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment and released it on Feb. 9th. In its first week, Black Panther: The Album has sold a whopping amount of 150,000 albums; being that the average of sold albums around a similar time frame is usually 52,000.

Black Panther: The Album is covered in features, introducing big names such as: SZA, Vince Staples, Future, 2 Chainz, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, and more. After listening, this soundtrack subconsciously hands out spoilers and it is best to conclude that fans should listen to this after watching the film.

The first track, “Black Panther”, automatically establishes a tone to listeners with its African drums and its light harmonic beats, illustrating a peaceful picture of Wakanda. Suddenly Kendrick declares, “I am T’Challa!” and flows in with a commentary on who King T’Challa is supposed to be and his role as a leader. Being an artist to constantly dub himself in his music, Lamar tackles this beautifully and sets in stone the characteristics of the King.

Black Panther: The Album is accompanied with light beats and so often surprises listeners with heavy hitters that sometimes have a grunge edge. It is noted that Lamar utilizes his knowledge of the Compton streets to paint out the war and struggles of Ryan Coogler’s version of California, which is Oakland. Lyrics in this album also reflect on Wakanda and hint towards significant events in Black Panther. Occasionally the listeners get little Easter eggs of African elements planted sporadically throughout the album to remind people the derivation of the album. For example, the African beats and languages are found in the track, “Redemption”.

On Black Panther: The Album, Lamar utilizes his infamous storytelling skills to have characters: T’Challa and Erik Killmonger symbolize good vs. evil. This strategy was recycled by his third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly but molded to fit the story of both the protagonist and antagonist. To Pimp a Butterfly story circulates around Uncle Sam and Lucy, highlighting as the angel vs. the devil in Kendrick Lamar’s life. Lamar translates this in a language that reflects Black Panther. Black Panther: The Album presents two beings who have extreme views on opposite spectrums but eventually has those morals meet in the middle. It is seen on the track, “King’s Dead”, Lamar raps, “I was absent – Never OG, standout, I was lackin’”, introducing Killmonger and his contrast to King T’Challa. Then Lamar shouts, “All hail King Killmonger”, revealing the uprising of Killmonger. The aggressive and fast-pace energy through the last verse molds the idea on who this King is supposed to be and what role he might play. Approaching “Seasons”, the track mostly covers on-going issues that are occurring in Africa and in the hoods. Lamar then exclaims, “I am T’Challa, I am Killmonger/ One world, one God, one family/ Celebration.” Therefore, bringing the two kings and their ideals into one unified movement in order to come up with a solution.

According to Coogler, he has said to choose Lamar for this project because “artistic themes align with those we explore in the film.” Lamar and the featured artists executed in Black Panther: The Album solidified the significance of Black Panther and its place in the Marvel cinematic universe.