The anticipation for next week's release of Black Panther is already at fever pitch. It's already perhaps the year's most anticipated film and sits at a more-than-respectable 98% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. We still have to wait another week to see it for ourselves, however, the wait for the film's companion soundtrack is now over. The Kendrick Lamar-curated, Top Dawg Entertainment-produced Black Panther: The Album is pretty damn lit in its own right. K.Dot and the TDE team gather a who's who of label stars and industry mates to deliver an interesting soundscape that is engineered to make heads nod and give us some insight into the world of the film.
Of course, the first song anyone ever heard from the album, Kendrick and SZA's "All The Stars," was a well-received introduction to the set. Its Afrofuturistic sound is pretty much indicative of the direction the soundtrack aims to take the listener as they listen. Kung Fu Kenny fans will be pleased as the GRAMMY-winning rapper is officially featured on five tracks — opener "Black Panther," "Stars," "King's Dead," "Big Shot" and The Weeknd collab "Pray For Me" — but his hand (and voice) is felt throughout. However, for the most part, he lets the other contributors shine just as much. Hip-hop is well represented, with TDE cohorts Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q all popping up to spit verses while channeling characters in the film. But R&B gets just as much shine and some of the soundtrack's best moments. Jorja Smith rides solo with "I Am," which is both trippy and soulful in a very interesting and refreshing way. Meanwhile, Anderson .Paak pops up to douse "Bloody Waters" with his raspy chorus. Another stellar R&B moment occurs when Zacari aligns with Babes Wodumo for "Redemption," a number that sounds like a night of clubbing in Johannesburg kissed with a sweet R&B melody.
Every track here isn't a winner (we're looking at you "X"), but ultimately Black Panther: The Album – Music From And Inspired By Black Panther is more than worth a few spins. It also amps our anxiousness to see the film, if for nothing else than to see where some of these tracks get placed in the film's narrative. Stream the project below via Spotify to see what we mean and be sure to pick up your copy before you head to the theater next week.