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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


The Black Panther album: Hodge-podge of music industry’s biggest names, but missing that ‘big screen’ feel

Kendrick Lamar assembles all star cast of musicians for movie soundtrack that stands alone as album
Photo Courtesy of Flickr user Jon Elbaz

I was scrolling through Spotify in class the other day, looking for some music to cue up for my walk back to the dorms, when I almost lost my marbles. It was too good to be true, a new Kendrick Lamar album this soon after DAMN.? In fact, it turned out not to be a Kendrick album that made me go full fangirl, but something just as good.

The soundtrack to the upcoming feature film, “Black Panther,” might as well be a project of its own. It contains prominent vocal features from Kendrick on nearly every track, as well as appearances from SZA, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, Mozzy, SOB x RBE, The Weeknd, Future, Jorja Smith, Swae Lee, Khalid and Travis Scott.

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With some of the music industry’s most successful figures working together to create a hodge-podge of tracks that leaves the listener with a plethora of sounds to enjoy, one could essentially call this movie soundtrack the all-star game of albums.

The “Black Panther” soundtrack mostly consists of hip-hop tracks, but the project also ventures across genres with tracks that give a more R&B vibe. There are even some reggae singers on the album. The project is certainly not cohesive or conceptual and doesn’t follow a single theme like many of the Kendrick albums we’ve come to love. 

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That being said, this works in the album’s favor in many ways. Without the pressure to put together a conceptual project that stands up to his other masterpieces, Kendrick was given a lot of creative freedom and had the chance to work with artists he may not have even considered collaborating with.

The song “Paramedic” is a great example of this. One of the hardest hitting rap songs on the album “Paramedic,” sees Kendrick team up with up-and-coming Bay Area artists SOB x RBE. Kendrick seamlessly trades bars with these kids from Vallejo and on the first listen it can be hard to distinguish Kendrick’s voice from the other rappers on the track. Simply put, the track is a banger and is one of my favorites.

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Another one of my favorite tracks, Jorja Smith’s “I Am,” strays away from the hip-hop dominant sounds of the album and showcases Smith’s beautifully soulful voice. This is one of the few tracks that did not require a feature from Kendrick, which I think was the right decision. Smith’s voice is so rich and full, the emotional anguish she displays on this track is sure to give listeners goosebumps.

Not every track hit home for me like Smith’s. While SZA and Kendrick can hardly do wrong when it comes to music in the last year, their collaboration on “All The Stars” is underwhelming. The song is one of the few on the “Black Panther” album that actually sounds like it was made for a movie soundtrack. The chorus is very repetitive and bland.

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Don’t get me wrong, SZA’s voice is beautiful, but she simply did not use it to its fullest potential on this track. Kendrick talks about all the fake fans he has and how he hates being famous on his verse. SZA’s verse is equally as lacking for an interesting subject matter.

The lack of lyrical depth and repeating themes is perhaps the biggest weak point of the album. The subject matter of the songs will definitely make more sense once the movie is released, but as a standalone project, there is not much lyrical content to ponder over for the listener.

That being said, if you are a fan of hip-hop, R&B or any of the artists who worked on this project, I would definitely give the “Black Panther” album a listen.

Rating: 3/5

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