Black Panther Album Review

: Andrew Wessel, Herald Contributor

The highly anticipated motion picture soundtrack from the new Marvel film “Black Panther” was released on Feb. 9, 2018.  The album features many popular rap and hip-hop artists, including Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and The Weeknd.  Most of the tracks are written around the themes and characters from the critically acclaimed “Black Panther” movie.  
The first track, “Black Panther,” is Kendrick’s only solo song on the compilation and is sung from the perspective of King T’challa, the Black Panther himself.  It is almost like spoken word or a speech, where the song is one verse instead of in pop song format.  “King of my city, king of my country, king of my homeland”: he runs over everything in his head that he is responsible for as ruler of Wakanda, an East African nation within the Marvel universe.  The vocalist says that he is ready to embrace any challenge that comes his way and is ready to stand strong with his nation, as any king should.
One of the more popular songs on the album is, “All of the Stars (feat. SZA).”  This song is set up in pop format, having a verse, pre-chorus, and chorus set up.  It’s another Kendrick track — however, he has now teamed up with R&B singer, SZA.  They divide up the parts of the song evenly between each other, taking a verse each, with Kendrick taking the pre-chorus and SZA singing the chorus.  An interesting part of the song is the pre-chorus, where Kendrick asks the listener a rhetorical question: “Is it anything and everything you hoped for?” after stating, “Love, let’s talk about love.”  Overall, it is a catchy, mellow song that will be a great addition to your favorite “chill” playlist.
The song that has shown the most popularity on the record, “Pray For Me,” is by The Weeknd, and yet again, Kendrick Lamar.  It has a steady, driving beat with soft synths in the background that push the melody of the song.  The Weeknd’s smooth vocals take over the first verse and the chorus, where he asks, “Who ‘gon pray for me? Take my pain for me? Save my soul for me? ‘Cause I’m alone you see…”  Here, he is referring to his issues with drugs, which served as a main element of his creative process earlier in his career and connects to other themes in the “Black Panther” movie.
As a whole, “Black Panther: The Album” is a solid hip-hop/rap album. Anyone who is a fan of the hip-hop genre should spin this up on their Spotify and give it a listen, or get to the theaters to see the soundtrack paired with the action packed film. Long live King T’challa, the Black Panther.