Collaborative albums have become the new trend in hip-hop, but Kendrick Lamar has taken it to the next level. He's curated the soundtrack for the upcoming Black Panther movie, and he did not go lightly. Blank Panther: The Album brings some of hip-hop's best together and truly shows who hip-hop's heroes are.
Kendrick takes the liberty of introducing the record solo, title track 'Black Panther' being lowkey in a classic Kendrick way, with its urgent moments throughout to create drama. Single 'All The Stars' sees Kendrick tackle a more accessible beat but with a moodier and darker vibe, SZA's hooks being melodic and catchy while still maintaining the urgency. There are lots of darker moments on Black Panther: The Album that really add a lot of texture (and, likely, more drama to the film), making it really feel like a story all on its own. Jorja Smith's 'I Am' and 'Seasons' by Mozzy, Sjava, and Reason are two tracks that really add some of those dark textures and put them to action.
You can't have a hip-hop album without some hype nowadays, and that's an important factor of Black Panther: The Album. With some of the names on the list, it'd hard to expect otherwise. ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, and Saudi are some of the first to really get the energy rolling on 'X,' Q going off early on in the song with the tradeoffs being excellent throughout its entirety. You can never go wrong with Vince Staples, and it's no shock that he and Yugen Blakrok make 'Opps' sound huge, Blakrok really sounding badass on the track. And we can't forget about the album's mastermind Kendrick, who shows time and time again that he's in charge. He goes off viciously at the end of 'King's Dead' alongside Future, Jay Rock, and James Blake, later partnering with Travis Scott on 'Big Shot' to add a trap element to the album, the two going hand in hand. The big ending comes with The Weeknd and Lamar teaming up for 'Pray For Me,' an epic and dark track seeing The Weeknd's signature crooning and Lamar's fire working together in a badass dichotomy. There's not really any moment of rest (besides Zacari's 'Redemption Interlude') throughout the entire album.
It's hard to feel as if hip-hop is going anywhere nowadays with everything sounding the same, but this album shows that the genre's heroes are the ones hiding underneath the surface. Black Panther: The Album brings some of hip-hop's best together and creates a soundtrack for a story of its own.
Favorite Tracks: Pray For Me, Opps, X
Least Favorite Track: Paramedic!
Rating: 77 / 100
Stream or buy Black Panther: The Album on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist: