Album review: Black Panther

On Feb. 16, the highly anticipated Marvel movie ‘Black Panther’ hits the big screen and is projected to break the box office over the weekend, but the film is not the only big release that happened.

The album for the film was released Feb. 8, preceded by five singles teasing hip-hop fans looking forward to rapper Kendrick Lamar’s following his album ‘DAMN’, which was dropped on April 14, 2017. The album contains 14 tracks.

Lamar’s creation comes on the heels of a 2017 musical year that saw collaboration albums dropped regularly. “Without Warning” by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, “Super Slimy” by Future and Young Thug, “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho” by Travis Scott and Quavo, “Droptopwop” by Gucci Mane and Metro Boomin and “F.E.M.A.” by Kodak Black and Plies. The 2017 musical season will be remembered as much for what artists came together to create as the artists (like Lamar) who released memorable solo acts.

Now, just a month into 2018, Lamar has constructed an album that feels just as much a capstone to the past hip-hop year as well as a beautiful construction from one of the genres best.

“Black Panther” hosts 22 artists/groups on the album (Future, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Saudi, Swae Lee, Khalid, SZA, Vince Staples, Yugen Blakrok, Jorja Smith, SOB X RBE, Ab-Soul, Anderson.Paak, James Blake, Jay Rock, Zacari, Babes Wodumo, Mozzy, Sjava Reason, Travis Scott and The Weekend) on a mere 14 songs.

The fact that so many artists combined in so few numbers alone are a masterful job done by Lamar. The fact that the construct of the album flows as one solid, unbroken sound throughout the album without flinching in the face of 22 creators to make a finished product that holds up front to back is miraculous.

The album takes on a tribal, almost soothing, beat throughout the album.  Yes, the album does not do not simply embody one sound or feeling in its entirety. Songs like “Paramedic” or “King’s Dead” have an edge, an anger deserved vengeance to them. The sharp tone of destruction dripping from their rhythm.

However, other songs such as “I am” or “All The Stars” slow the pace down. Where other songs force you into the message of the verses, these beg for you to listen.

The combination is not only impressive to pull off without sounding disruptive, it also adds a pleasant jolt to the album, which adds to the electric listen.

Whether it is “X” or “Seasons,” the message of fighting against corruption and negativity from a powerful place that must be retaken is laced throughout the entire creation.

Current Favorite Track

This is bound to change a month from now after another 50 times through, just like it will change this summer after 200 times through, but right now my personal favorite song is “Pray For Me.” Following the dive through the album, the final song features both Lamar and The Weekend.

The pace slows way down to an R&B chorus that is carried out by the weekend, followed by a bass and Lamar’s sped up the tempo of rapping. The mix is the perfect end to a roller coaster of an album.

The message of the song too is beautifully simple: the task at hand is grim. Intercede on my behalf for my chance at redemption.

Photo: In this Aug. 27, 2017 file photo, Kendrick Lamar arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif. Lamar curated the release, “Black Panther The Album Music from and Inspired By,” performed by various artists. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

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