The Black Panther Soundtrack Is The Best Album of the Year

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The movie hasn’t hit theatres yet, but the Black Panther soundtrack, curated by Top Dawg Entertainment and Kendrick Lamar, is a masterpiece.

The album is at once forward-thinking and retrospective. The themes shift between the comic book world of Wakanda, the mind and emotional conscious of T’Challa/Black Panther, black nationalism, black pride, and swaggering bravado. With guests ranging from trap superstars (Future, Travis Scott) to British songbirds (Jorja Smith, James Blake) and South African culture-shifters (Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Saudi) the soundtrack is inclusive in its execution and portrayal of blackness. In fact, the diversity of the tracklist is almost a statement of pan-Africanism.

The production of the album is nothing short of exquisite; each track flows nearly seamlessly into the next, and most importantly the production challenges the artists. Khalid and Swae Lee have never been on a track as lush and as cinematic as “The Ways,” likewise for SZA on “All The Stars” and 2 Chainz on “X.” On the Black Panther soundtrack, we get to hear our favorite rappers grapple with strings and dissonant piano keys, it is simply incredible. Lyrically, the album gets more introspective and political as it progresses, it ultimately ends on a triumphant and

The greatest achievement of the soundtrack is that each song could work as a radio single for the respective artists, but still make sense and function at a higher level in the context of the soundtrack. Black Panther: The Soundtrack is dark, moody, inspiring, powerful, political, personal, and universal all at the same time. It is a true testament to the level of Kendrick’s artistry and the acuteness and precision of his vision.

KEY TRACKS: “Paramedic!,” “Seasons,” literally every track.

SCORE: 90

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