Black Panther (aka T’Challa, newly crowned king of Wakanda and figuratively and literally the darkest Avenger) must protect his resourceful and hidden homeland in the latest Marvel blockbuster. To create a soundtrack to this plot? Call Kendrick.
To be honest, I had my doubts when I heard Kendrick Lamar curate the soundtrack to the latest Marvel movie “Black Panther” (btw: my second favorite Avenger, after Antman). My first thought was intuitive and uneducated: Uff. Now this Conscious rapper has been well established in the mainstream for two albums, and we’re all cheering, once again, one who says things and pushes the art form. You do not want to see him getting soaked over the mass fitness bonfire so quickly – and I had that impression when I heard that Kendrick was setting up a Marvel soundtrack.
Stupid Pablo, naive Pablo.
For one thing, not every musical by-product that springs from the world of complete mass entertainment is necessarily worthless outside the product context, and secondly, “Black Panther: The Album” is by no means a byproduct.
The basis for the album was created in the summer of 2017, when Kendrick was in the middle of the “Damn” tour. Hooks, ideas, and sketches came together, and after seeing the majority of the film, Kendrick decided to curate and co-design the entire album. Producer Sounwave (from Kendrick’s label TDE) has practically produced the 14-track work, and Kendrick also took a deep toll in the TDE box with these instrumentals: Ab-Soul, SZA, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock & Kendrick himself a large part of the label represented. The “rest” of the Featuring list is smart, between planetary stars such as The Weeknd or Future there are relatively unknown rappers, like the South African rapper Yugen Blakrok, who slashes hard on lines with Vince Staples & Kendrick on my favorite track «Opps» that get stuck.