By Allegra Solomon, Contributor
[Interscope / TDE; 2018]
Key Tracks: “The Ways”, “Paramedic!”, “King’s Dead”
As if an all-black Marvel movie wasn’t enough to take Black History Month to new heights, the star-studded Black Panther soundtrack—curated by Kendrick Lamar and the rest of Top Dawg Entertainment—brought together every influential black music artist from the last year. Featuring artists like SZA, Khalid, and Jorja Smith, the album manages to deliver a couple of standout hits, while others get lost in the middle. However, in true Kendrick Lamar fashion, he helps elevate this album from good to great.
“The Ways”, the fourth track on the album, is lead with vocals from twenty-year-old Khalid, as well as a feature from Rae Sremmurd member Swae Lee. “The Ways” manages to balance a catchy beat and simple lyrics without becoming cheesy. With a stealth baseline and ear-catching 808s, the song quickly sets itself aside as one of the standouts of the album. Underneath it, you can hear the undeniable sound of Kendrick Lamar ad-libbing during Swae Lee’s parts, adding just one more element to an already exceptional song.
“Paramedic!” begins with a reference to the movie’s villain: “I am Killmonger / No one’s perfect / But no one’s worthless / We ain’t deserving of everything heaven and earth is / But the word is (good).” The tracks on the album are heavily influenced by the movie, with Lamar rapping from the perspective of the villain on this song, as well as on “King’s Dead”. The song is the textbook hype-song fans expect from Lamar. It maxes out at three minutes and thirty-nine seconds, with a very sudden transition into the next song, “Bloody Waters”. The track features Zacari and rising Californian rap group SOBxRBE, which goes to show the amount of collaboration that went into the making of this album.
While delivering on certain tracks, the album falls short on others. The 14-track album could have easily been cut down to nine great songs, getting rid of the fillers. Regardless, the album can fulfill your rap and R&B needs for the next month and is the perfect hype album to blast in your car as you’re on your way to the theater to see the movie.