Black Panther: The Album is the best movie soundtrack in years
The movie soundtrack isn’t dead. Yet.
On Friday the soundtrack for Marvel’s Black Panther was released. The album was curated by Kendrick Lamar and his TDE crew.
So what we have here is basically a TDE compilation album. Kendrick is almost on every track, and there are appearances from the likes of Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, and SZA.
However, TDE also shows love to non-affiliated acts like 2 Chainz, Jorja Smith, and The Weeknd, as well as up-and-coming rappers like SOB X RBE, Mozzy, and Reason.
After giving the album a couple of close listens, we determined who showed out the most on the soundtrack.
Here are the ten best features off the Black Panther: The Album project:
When the tracklist for Black Panther: The Album was released, there was confusion around track 12, “Seasons,” which features Mozzy, Sjava, and Reason. Most assumed Reason was the South African rapper. It wasn’t. The Reason featured on Black Panther The Album is an unheralded rapper from Carson, California, who, honestly, we never heard of before this. He turns out a passionate, star-making performance on the track, ending his verse by telling the tale of a tragic shooting:
Like when that car bent the block, brock, brock, brock
Hit the homie but we made it, he already saved us
Thinkin’ that he could’ve died nigga
We was praying’ to the sky and his mother cried rivers
Healed up, but tough luck, he tried to get revenge
Had to drop, bullets popped and they killed him
Worst part is that it sound so familiar
9. James Blake/Anderson .Paak
Blake and .Paak is an odd combination. On paper. But on their first collaboration, “Bloody Waters,” the two find a way to make their contrasting styles — Anderson: nostalgic, warm; James is just frigid — work over Sounwave’s sparse production.
8. Khalid/Swae Lee
“The Ways” is an infectious duet from Khalid and Swae Lee that sounds like could have been on Khalid’s sweet debut American Teen. So it’s a win for us.
7. Jay Rock
“King’s Dead” is an odd song, in the sense that there is very little rapping when you consider how many actual rappers there are on the song (three). Jay Rock is the only person with an extended verse. (We’re really not sure what to call Future’s feature here.) And he makes the most of his time on the mic. At times, Jay Rock can be a bit meat and potatoes…but sometimes that’s a good meal.
6. 2 Chainz
Is there a guest appearance that 2 Chainz doesn’t kill? Don’t answer that, the question is rhetorical. The rapper is a much need spark on the otherwise middling “X,” which features ScHoolboy Q and Saudi.
When Kendrick Lamar won Best Rap Album at the Grammys last month, he shouted out Mozzy: one of the most underrated (and violent) lyricists in hip-hop right now.Mozzy appears on the heaviest song on the album, “Seasons.” The first line alone tells you how deep Mozzy can get:
I cried when my lil’ brotha died, got high and watched the sun rise
4. Babes Wodumo
“Redemption” is a collaboration between “LOVE.” star Zacari and South Africa artist Babes Wodumo. The song is an absolute jam, and it’s mostly because of the infectious flows Wodumo uses. (Sidenote: it’s really cool to see so many South African artists part of this project.)
3. Kendrick Lamar
It was a pleasant surprise to see how involved Kendrick Lamar was with this project. He’s almost on every song, in some capacity. Despite the fact that there are over a dozen guests, the album is cohesive (a trademark of Kendrick albums.) And, at times, Kendrick is spectacular, especially on the album’s intro and on the Travis Scott collabo “Big Shot.” The only reason why Kendrick isn’t higher on this list is because his collabo with SZA, “All the Stars,” and his song with The Weeknd, “Pray for me,” both fall flat.
2. Ab Soul
When he wants to, Ab-Soul could hold his own with any rapper out there (including Kendrick.) On “Bloody Waters” he spits two verses that contain all of this amazing descriptive imagery. Just check the beginning of verse number two:
Low lows pulled outside of the Ralph’s
After a car show at Dominguez
They had a disagreement, they had to air out
Just another day in Del Amo
1. SOB X RBE
SOB X RBE is a group of four rappers — Slimmy B, DaBoii, Lul G, and Yhung T.O. — from Vallejo, California. They first started making national noise with a street hit called “Anti.” The Black Panther soundtrack is their biggest look so far. And they completely show out. On their track “Paramedic!” they rap with this great frantic, aggressive, sometimes off-beat energy that Kendrick can’t keep up with. (Which is why he’s only on the hook on this.)