Well, here’s something I haven’t done in a while, an album review. And what better album to review than the soundtrack to the latest blockbuster film? Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment have been tapped to put together music for and inspired by Black Panther. Did they succeed in making a good soundtrack? Well, let’s find out.
Black Panther-Kendrick Lamar: We start off with Black Panther, an intro that I wished had a harder beat to go with Kendrick. Plus, Kendrick repeating the word king repeatedly kinda gets annoying after a while. It’s a good intro, but I wish it was better and longer (that won’t be misinterpreted in any way). I give it a high C. Oh, and get used to hearing more of Kendrick, even in songs that he’s not credited on.
All The Stars-Kendrick Lamar & SZA: go here for my opinion on this song
X-ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, & Saudi: This is one of the bangers on this album, X. The beat is bananas and ScHoolboy Q brings it. Hell, even 2 Chainz snapped. Yeah, I’m giving praise to 2 Chainz. I’m not even joking. The weakest part of the song is the hook and Saudi’s Auto-Tuned verse. Wasn’t too crazy about them. Still, it’s a good song and I’m giving it a B.
The Ways-Khalid & Swae Lee: Next is The Ways and it’s honestly forgettable. The beat is alright, Khalid has done better than this, and I did not care for Swae Lee at all. This is straight-up album filler and I’m giving it a D.
Opps-Vince Staples & Yugen Blakrok: And now for another banger, courtesy of Opps. I love how tribal this beat is. We get some good verses from Kendrick and Vince Staples. But they’re both outshined by Yugen Blakrok. Dude, she is dope. I hope to hear more from her in the future. I give this song an A.
I Am-Jorja Smith: I Am is one of those songs that I’m not too crazy about. It’s slow and a bit of a mess. Jorja Smith doesn’t sound that bad, but she didn’t exactly blew me away with this song. It’s just kinda there. I give it a low C.
Paramedic-SOB X RBE: I didn’t know what to expect from this song. What I got is a modern West Coast-sounding beat that kinda slaps and rappers who sound okay. This sounds like something YG would have made. It’s not exactly a song I would go back and listen to again, but I wouldn’t mind it if it was playing on the radio. I give it a C.
Bloody Waters-Ab-Soul, Anderson Paak, & James Blake: Next is Bloody Waters. I really like this song. Anderson Paak runs away with the song easily. He was perfect for this type of production. Don’t sleep on Ab-Soul, though. Both of his verses are full of gems. Look for yourself if you don’t believe me. Yeah, this song is dope. I give it an A.
King’s Dead-Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, & James Blake: Oh, this song. Look, King’s Dead isn’t a bad song; the beat kinda goes hard and Kendrick and Jay Rock had fire verses. BUT then came Future. Why the hell is he here? He gave us the worst moment out of the entire album: La di da di da, slob on me knob, Pass me some syrup, fuck me in the car, La di da di da, mothafuck the law, Chitty chitty bang, murder everything, Chitty chitty bang, murder everything. This shit right here just ruined the entire record for me. I can’t give this a bad rating based on one moment, but it knocked it down to a low C.
Redemption Interlude-Zacari: You all remember Zacari? He sang the hook to the Kendrick hit Love. Here he is on Redemption. The Interlude. It’s okay, but I don’t know why they didn’t combine it with the actual song. Whatever. That’s me being nitpicky. I give it a C.
Redemption-Zacari & Babes Wodumo: Now for the actual Redemption track. This is what I wanted more of from the album, music that’s African-inspired. This song generates the vibe of being at a party that plays nothing but Afrobeat music. And they brought in Babes Wodumo to give the song more cred and it’s lit. Zacari was good, too. I really like this song and I’m going to give it a B.
Seasons-Mozzy, Sjava, & Reason: Next is Seasons, which deals with the struggles and plight of people of the African diaspora. First off, Sjava murders this song, his entire verse is in Zulu and it’s perfect for this production. Mozzy and Reason were cool, but Sjava was the real star of the song. I give this song a B.
Big Shot-Kendrick Lamar & Travis Scott: I was actually looking forward to this song since I liked Goosebumps. But Big Shot is easily the worst song on the album. Easily one of Kendrick’s worst performances on a track and Travis Scott didn’t look good, either. These dudes were phoning it in. I give this song an F.
Pray For Me-The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar: go here for my opinion on this song
Pray For Me, X, Bloody Waters, Opps, Redemption
Big Shot, The Ways
I give Black Panther: The Album a B. It was exactly what I was expecting: a mix of hip-hop, R&B, and African music along with some crossover potential. Some of the songs were fantastic while others were just okay and a few aren’t that good. There were moments that I questioned what do they have to do with Black Panther (*coughs* la di da di da) and others fit the theme well. If it wasn’t attached to Black Panther, it would’ve just been Kendrick Lamar and Friends because he’s on here a lot. Mild spoiler: a few of these songs were in the movie. Black Panther Week isn’t over yet as this Friday, I review the movie itself.