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Black Panther album review

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Record Label: Top Dawg Entertainment

Release Date: February 9, 2018

Rating: 9/10

The most rhythmic and impassioned film of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, it is no surprise that Black Panther got its own musical album, curated by Kendrick Lamar. Released a week before the film, Lamar brings the same artistic energy and originality that reverberates throughout the film and in his own work; the Grammy-winner has put together an all-star team of musicians who make the film even more resonative.

Lamar lights up the album with its soul-sapped and pulsating first track, “Black Panther.” The beat is subtle, calculating and sharp- “King of my city, king of my country, king of my homeland.” It’s the perfect procession for not only the movie, but the album. Rightly reflecting with its inspired film, Kendrick captures the excellence from T’Challa’s perspective. “Ashes I’m dumpin’ out, ‘bout to spread all ‘cross seas / Sisters and brothers in unison, not because of me / Because we don’t glue with opposition, we glue with peace.”

Graced by SZA’s ethereal voice, “All The Stars” hits the album as its second track. “This may be the night that my dreams might let me know / All the stars approach you, all the stars approach you.” Lamar and SZA tie Black Panther beautifully with this track. It’s the next pop hit; no matter where you hear it, it’s hopeful, dreamy, and supernatural. The skillful lyrics both artists mesh together to accordingly bubble the feeling of awe is hypnotic. “Love, let’s talk about love / Is it anything and everything you hoped for?”

Featuring Khalid and Swae Lee, “The Ways” curves into the fourth track of the album. The low, backtrack and softer beat opposes the rest of the album’s action-packed and adrenaline-ridden high. Serenading the audience with its amorous verses, “The Ways” is the perfect change of pace. “Somethin’ in the way you move / Radion beams castin’ vibrant views / Pick me up when I fall down and out / Dust me off and show me all truth / Show me that I’ll never fly alone.”

Heavy beats intricately mixed with a dulcet doused voice, Jorja Smith performs “I Am” as the album’s sixth track. Mirroring Wakanda’s isolated civilization, she sings, “When you know what you got / Sacrifice ain’t that hard / Feel like dependin’ on me / Sometimes we ain’t meant to be free.”

“Pray for Me” is the fiery closer, featuring The Weeknd and more crushing lines from Lamar. Adorned with a futuristic, driving beat, the song speaks of loyalty, responsibility, and a significant hero-complex that characterizes T’Challa and his royalty perfectly. “I fight the world, I fight you, I fight myself / I fight God, just tell me how many burdens left.” The motif of being both a king and a protector in Black Panther is beautifully translated from the character to Lamar’s raw, human outpour.

Kendrick Lamar, joined together with a brilliant team featuring SZA, Khalid, The Weeknd and many more, design a byzantine, lyrical beauty that strings together its origin film.  Black Panther: The Album is refreshing and everything a Marvel movie stands for: powerful, tonic and a statement – an electrifying work of art.

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