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Kendrick Lamar's Black Panther Album: A First Reaction/Review
If you are a fan of hip-hop, Marvel, or both, you probably have heard of Black Panther: The Album, a compilation of music from and inspired by the 2018 blockbuster film Black Panther. The album was curated by none other than Kendrick Lamar, one of the most acclaimed and influential rappers of our time. But what makes this album so special and worth listening to? In this article, I will give you my first reaction/review of the album, covering its background, features, themes, highlights, lowlights, impact, and reception.
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The Background of the Album
The story behind Black Panther: The Album is quite interesting. It all started when Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, approached Kendrick Lamar and Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, the CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), to produce a few songs for the film. Coogler was a fan of Lamar's work and felt that his artistic vision matched that of the movie. Lamar agreed to work on the project, but soon realized that he wanted to do more than just a few songs. He decided to curate an entire album of music from and inspired by Black Panther, with the help of Tiffith and his fellow TDE artists.
Coogler was thrilled by Lamar's enthusiasm and gave him creative freedom to make the album he wanted. Lamar said that he was inspired by Coogler's passion and vision for Black Panther, as well as by his own experience as a black man in America. He also said that he wanted to create an album that would reflect the diversity and richness of African culture, as well as the themes and messages of Black Panther. He said:
"The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I'm truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside Ryan [Coogler] and Marvel's vision."
The Features and Collaborations
One of the most impressive aspects of Black Panther: The Album is its star-studded lineup of features and collaborations. Along with TDE stars SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Zacari, REASON, and SiR, Lamar also enlisted artists from across the hip-hop spectrum, such as Future, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak, James Blake, Swae Lee, Khalid, Jorja Smith, Mozzy, SOB X RBE, Saudi, Babes Wodumo, Sjava, The Weeknd, etc.
Lamar also made sure to include artists from Africa, especially South Africa, where some parts of Black Panther were filmed. He said that he wanted to go inside their world to get an organic sound and emotion. Some of the African artists that appear on the album are Yugen Blakrok (South Africa), Sjava (South Africa), Babes Wodumo (South Africa), Saudi (South Africa), etc.
The result is a diverse and eclectic mix of sounds and styles that showcase different facets of African culture and hip-hop culture. Lamar also managed to balance his own presence on the album with that of his collaborators. He appears on five songs as a lead artist ("Black Panther", "All The Stars", "Big Shot", "King's Dead", "Pray For Me") and on four more as a featured artist ("X", "Opps", "Paramedic!", "Bloody Waters"). He also provides background vocals or ad-libs on some other tracks.
The Themes and Messages
Black Panther: The Album is not just a collection of songs that sound good together. It is also a cohesive body of work that explores various themes and messages that resonate with Black Panther as a film and as a cultural phenomenon. Some of these themes are:
Pride: The album celebrates black pride and identity in different ways. For example, on "All The Stars", Lamar and SZA sing about being stars in their own right; on "The Ways", Khalid and Swae Lee sing about loving an African woman; on "Seasons", Mozzy, Sjava, REASON rap about their struggles and successes as black men; on "Pray For Me", The Weeknd and Lamar sing about being heroes for their people.
Power: The album also explores different aspects of power: how it can be used for good or evil; how it can be gained or lost; how it can be shared or hoarded; how it can be challenged or defended. For example, on "X", ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Saudi rap about being powerful in their own ways; on "Opps", Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok rap about being enemies of the system; on "King's Dead", Jay Rock, Lamar, Future rap about killing their competition; on "Bloody Waters", Ab-Soul raps about being loyal to his king.
Purpose: The album also questions what is one's purpose in life: what are one's goals; what are one's values; what are one's responsibilities; what are one's choices. For example, on "Black Panther", Lamar raps about being chosen by fate; on "I Am", Jorja Smith sings about finding herself; on "Paramedic!", SOB X RBE rap about surviving in their environment; on "Redemption", Zacari sings about seeking forgiveness.
Perspective: The album also offers different perspectives on various issues: such as identity; politics; history; culture; justice; etc. For example, on "King's Dead", Lamar raps from the perspective of Killmonger (the antagonist); on "Redemption Interlude", Zacari sings from the perspective of T'Challa (the protagonist); on "Seasons", Mozzy raps from an American perspective; Sjava raps from a South African perspective; REASON raps from an outsider perspective.
The Highlights and Lowlights
Black Panther: The Album is not without its flaws. While it has many great songs that stand out for their quality and impact; it also has some songs that fall short or feel out of place. Here are some of my personal highlights and lowlights:
"All The Stars": This is one of the most popular songs on the album; it was nominated for four Grammy Awards; it was used in several trailers for Black Panther; it has over 1 billion views on YouTube. It is a catchy and uplifting song that showcases Lamar's lyrical skills and SZA's vocal talents.
"King's Dead": This is another hit song from the album; it won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance; it features four different artists with distinct styles; it has a memorable beat switch in Lamar's verse. It is a hard-hitting song that displays each artist's personality.
"Opps": This is one of my favorite songs on the album; it has a futuristic sound that fits well with Black Panther's sci-fi elements; it features two underrated rappers who deliver impressive verses; it has an infectious chorus by Lamar. It is a thrilling song that captures the energy and excitement of Black Panther.
>); it has a recycled beat and chorus from Lamar's song "New Freezer"; it has a lackluster verse from Travis Scott. It is a bland and boring song that adds nothing to the album.
"Redemption": This is another song that I don't like on the album; it has a generic dancehall sound that doesn't fit with the rest of the album; it has a weak chorus by Zacari and a forgettable verse by Babes Wodumo. It is a filler song that feels out of place on the album.
"The Ways": This is a song that I have mixed feelings about; it has a smooth and soothing sound that contrasts with the rest of the album; it has a sweet chorus by Khalid and a decent verse by Swae Lee. However, it also has some cheesy lyrics and a lack of substance. It is a nice song but not a memorable one.
The Impact and Reception
Black Panther: The Album was a huge success both commercially and critically. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 154,000 equivalent album units in its first week. It became Lamar's fourth consecutive number-one album in the US and the second soundtrack album to top the chart in 2018 (after The Greatest Showman). It also topped the charts in several other countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, etc.
The album also received widespread acclaim from critics and fans alike. It was praised for its diversity, creativity, quality, and relevance. It was nominated for eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Rap Album; it won two awards: Best Rap Performance for "King's Dead" and Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. It was also nominated for several other awards, such as Academy Award for Best Original Song for "All The Stars", Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for "Pray For Me", etc.
The album also had a significant cultural impact. It was seen as a celebration and representation of black culture and excellence. It was also seen as a complement and enhancement of Black Panther's themes and messages. It was also seen as a showcase of Lamar's artistic vision and influence. It was also seen as a milestone for hip-hop and soundtrack albums.
In conclusion, Black Panther: The Album is an amazing album that deserves all the praise and recognition it has received. It is not only a great soundtrack album but also a great hip-hop album. It is not only a great hip-hop album but also a great cultural statement. It is not only a great cultural statement but also a great artistic achievement. It is an album that transcends genres, boundaries, and expectations. It is an album that reflects and respects Black Panther as a film and as a movement. It is an album that I highly recommend to anyone who loves music, movies, or both.
Q: How many songs are on Black Panther: The Album?
A: There are 14 songs on Black Panther: The Album, plus one bonus track ("All The Stars") on some editions.
Q: How long is Black Panther: The Album?
A: Black Panther: The Album is 49 minutes long.
Q: Who are the producers of Black Panther: The Album?
A: Black Panther: The Album is executive produced by Kendrick Lamar and Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. Other producers include Sounwave, Mike WiLL Made-It, Al Shux, Frank Dukes, Cardo, Cubeatz, DJ Dahi, etc.
Q: Where can I listen to Black Panther: The Album?
A: You can listen to Black Panther: The Album on various streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, etc. You can also buy or download the album from various online stores such as iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, etc.
Q: What are some other soundtrack albums that are similar to Black Panther: The Album?
A: Some other soundtrack albums that are similar to Black Panther: The Album are Judas and the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album, The Lion King: The Gift, Captain Marvel (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), etc.