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‘Black Panther’ soundtrack is just as unique and stunning as the film

Photo from Marvel Studios, with permission under fair use

Photo from Marvel Studios, with permission under fair use

Photo from Marvel Studios, with permission under fair use

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“Black Panther” has been pivotal in the modern film industry and African American representation in media, not only being the first black superhero movie but also one of the few films with a black majority cast and a grounding in African culture. “Black Panther’s” hip-hop/R&B soundtrack flawlessly harmonizes with the action, hype, and black pride in the movie. This 14- track medley by Kendrick Lamar features famous black artists such as  Khalid, SZA, the Weeknd, Future, and more.

   I was lulled into the chill chords of “Paramedic!” (by Kendrick Lamar, ft. SOB x RBE) until the instrumental completely switched to the classic bass/clap/high hat rap beat about 30 seconds into the song. However, the shift, as well as the chords over the beat paired with Kendrick Lamar’s first verse kept me listening. To be frank, I was shocked, but not mad.

The only downside is that the song is slightly repetitive and ends rather abruptly, but in general, Lamar and SOB x RBE sounded great together. The song overall parallels “Black Panther” villain Killmonger, his backstory, and his conflict being a California-born Wakandan.

As an R&B enthusiast, “The Ways” by Khalid, famous for “Young, Dumb, and Broke,” featuring Swae Lee, was refreshing to listen to after a lineup of rap songs.

If you’ve listened to Khalid’s album “American Teen,” “The Ways” parallels some of the same themes- love, vows of forever commitment, etc- similar to “Location”.

The beat is a soothing balance of reggae-vibe chords and a simplistic combo of classic high hat and bass. Unfortunately, Khalid’s vocals are slightly unchallenged in this song, and I don’t think he unlocked his full potential as a singer, but that was a minor downside to the song as a whole.

“The Ways” doesn’t really correlate to much in the movie, as there aren’t many overt romantic scenes- it mainly focuses on the action/culture aspects.

Kendrick Lamar pays homage to the movie’s African roots/inspiration in “Seasons” by Mozzy, Sjava, and Reason- the most cultural song on the album. I was taken aback by the first verse, as it wasn’t in English.

After some research, I found out that the verse is sung by Sjava, in Zulu, a language originating from the Zulu tribe in South Africa, with about 10 million speakers today.

Sjava tells the story of where he grew up, and the hardships he faced as he pursued his music career. He subtly attacks ignorant people in the chorus, singing that “Poverty, jealousy, negativity” in Africa have no place in today’s world, referencing Africa’s progress from being home to multiple third world countries in recent years.

Perhaps the most meme-worthy part of the entire album is Future’s iconic verse in “King’s Dead”, in which the “Mask Off” mumbling Future, in his baritone voice, strained to hit alto notes halfway through a serious song addressing racism. I choked on my water cracking up when hearing the verse, but the song itself has great messages on discrimination, and Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock worked marvelously together.

Other songs in the album that I liked include “Redemption,” in which the “LOVE” feature Zacari brings us a beautiful R&B melody with African percussion,  “All The Stars,” with literal star SZA’s angelic vocals, and “Pray For Me,” a personal favorite because I recently became a fan of The Weeknd.

Overall, Lamar has beautifully orchestrated the soundtrack. Especially as a hip-hop/R&B album, which holds a rich history of black progression and expression, he hits the main themes of the movie — black pride and racism — extremely well. Lamar, as well as the other singers and rappers, manage to add a culturally stylistic flair that makes the album nontraditional and pulls listeners in with music they haven’t heard before.

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The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.
‘Black Panther’ soundtrack is just as unique and stunning as the film