There has been an incredibly exciting trend over the past few years surrounding the use of music in film. Recent movie trailers have made use of music masterfully, and movies themselves have woven in music and sound not just as background pieces but as fully fleshed-out characters in their own right. Marvel Studios was a perfect example of this with their 2017 releases. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 continued the theme established by the original Guardians film by featuring an “Awesome Mix” of classic 70’s hits, and Thor: Ragnarok blew our minds with several Led Zeppelin tracks that seemed as if they had been written for the God of Thunder himself. Now, it looks like Black Panther is going to continue that trend…
Over the past few weeks, Kendrick Lamar has been teasing his involvement in the soundtrack for this February’s Black Panther movie, and now it’s official! This morning, Marvel took to their Twitter account to announce Black Panther: The Album and shared our first look at the original soundtrack!
.@KendrickLamar, @DangerooKipawaa, and @TopDawgEnt will curate and produce "#BlackPanther: The Album, Music from and Inspired by the Film," including lead single “All the Stars” by @SZA. Listen to the single now: https://t.co/G1LljTh9cA pic.twitter.com/IwJG01zqao
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) January 4, 2018
Along with the announcement, Marvel and Lamar unveiled the lead single “All The Stars” featuring SZA. (You can check it out on Spotify here.) Kendrick Lamar is working with Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony Tiffith to produce the album, which is set to feature music from the film as well as songs inspired by it. This first single is not only amazing, but shares connections to the overall themes of the film. The lyrics seem to invoke the personality of T’Challa as well as the trials and difficulties that he must endure as he returns to his home country of Wakanda.
In a statement about the album, Lamar himself spoke about the cultural significance of the music and what it will mean in the upcoming film:
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is amazing, from its cast to its director. 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 [director Ryan Coogler] and Marvel’s vision.
Ever since the first trailer, fans have been introduced to Wakanda through the use of perfectly matched music selections. That original trailer featured the song “Legend Has It” by Run The Jewels, with lyrics that mirrored King T’Challa’s journey of “stepping into the spotlight.” In the Marvel comics, the country of Wakanda has always practiced a very strict policy of isolationism. Sequestering itself from the rest of the world, it is distinct for being an African nation that has never succumbed to western colonization, and thus has maintained its unique technology, culture, and art for hundreds of years. The lyrics of that song speak to the country’s need to come out of the shadows after the events in Captain America: Civil War. The second trailer also heavily featured distinct music, and was cut to a mix of two different songs: “Bagbak” by Vince Staples and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron. That second song selection is an extremely culturally relevant piece, in that it came to us during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
There is indeed a revolution that is occurring. The representation of minorities in film is changing. Next month’s Black Panther is just that: Black. It is the first of the Marvel films to feature an African-American as its lead hero, and it boasts an incredible supporting cast that is a veritable who’s-who of African-American talent. Today’s news only convinces us further that director Ryan Coogler and the other filmmakers understand the impact that a movie like this can have. The film displays an afro-futuristic culture that is wholly unique, and the musical choices that are being made are a big part of that culture. The soundtrack will only serve to immerse us even further into the world of Wakanda.
There is no release date on Lamar’s album as of yet, but Black Panther is mere weeks away, debuting in the heart of Black History Month on February 16, 2018. We can’t wait…