For the first time in history, hip-hop surpassed rock, making it the biggest genre in the world. This is a landmark in history, not just for the hip-hop culture but black culture as a whole. This is a true win for black culture world wide, and it is only the beginning.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe reaching its peak this year, attention, anticipation and general excitement has washed over the fans and the general public by storm. This spider web is finally connecting to Africa and paying homage to African culture. Ryan Coogler (Black Panther Director) and Marvel Studios gave Kendrick Lamar and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith the green light to compile the Black Panther album for the motion picture, Black Panther, and what the eleven-time Grammy winner and his mentor did is simply breathless. They explored the African sounds and brought the Mzanzi flavour to the film’s soundtrack album. With the presence of four outstanding South African artists - Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Yugen Blakrok and Saudi, partnering up with A-list musicians like, Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Vince Staples, Reason, just to name a few; Black Panther truly does not hold back black appreciation, specifically African appreciation.
The album’s introduction, ‘Black Panther’, starts us off on the path and tone of the soundtrack. It starts off by the lighting of a fire and drumming going on in the background and it fades away and a simple piano tone is introduced. Kendrick Lamar takes us through the true definition of a King. He touches on responsibility, duties and difficulties it comes with. We then travel through the daily pressures of being king in ‘All The Stars’ and the day-to-day relations being king comes with. In the music video, we are graced with beautiful visuals exploring royalty in Africa from North to South.
‘Redemption’ is the pinnacle of the Mzanzi soulful sounds. It is a song that has the full rhythm of the South and when it plays, no one can resist and sit back but dance and move to the beat. It is a stamp of pride for it is a song that is meant for the global stage and instead of presenting the typical pop-culture song that the world can relate to, they stuck to their roots and delivered a song redeeming the African flair.
‘Seasons’ falls right after ‘Redemption’ and it is viewed as an African prayer. With a powerful chorus, played over a jazz influenced beat, all you can do is close your eyes and feel the music take control. “Poverty, jealousy, Ngith’ ak’nandawo, Go away, far away” - the chorus is truly a cry by Africa. The artists take turns expressing personal stories of hardships. We travel through a heavy emotional journey but we are reminded by the soft voice throughout the song that “seasons change”.
The Black Panther album and the movie are a perfect match made in heaven. The first ever African based super hero is hitting the big screen worldwide and it has promised us it will represent our culture well giving the younger generation a hero they can relate to and idolize, proving there is room in this world for the African culture and not the pop culture shipped in from the West. The soundtrack album is the stamp of approval for it infused the African sound throughout the album, even when African artists were not in the songs.
So for the culture, listen to alum, watch the movie and crown yourselves true African Queens and Kings.