Kingdom come, when I come, you know why

King, King, King, King

I Am T'Challa!

I’d like to amend my previous statements about the most prolific artist working today. I had recently praised Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino, as one of the most complete entertainers working in the entertainment industry right now. And, although, he deserves all the credit in the world, and I still consider him one of the best and most complete artists in current existence, it’s hard not to put Kendrick Lamar in this conversation. Especially, after the release of Black Panther The Album Music From and Inspired By, which debuted today. Check out the entire album on SPOTIFY. [CLICK THE LINK TO LISTEN WHILE YOU READ]

What makes Kendrick Lamar so great is: Consistency. As a writer, producer and curator of this album, that consistency shows as he weaves himself in and through every track. But, the thread that binds this project together, as it is in all of his albums, is Lamar’s unrelenting creative vision. And, the execution of those ideas, cuts like a knife here, carving out the frivolities and self-aggrandizing luster of an ordinary hip hop album, leaving us with this year’s most satisfying Event Album that might only be topped by Lamar’s next solo work.

However, more than just music, what we have here is an extension of the actual film’s cinematic experience. It is an experience that transcends the audible and plays out in your mind’s open canvas where Lamar is not only a recording artist, but an actor, painter, conductor, etc. He is T’Challa, Killmonger, Wakanda, a hero, a villain. He is everything he imagines himself to be and we have no choice but to succumb to his enchanting visionary tour de force.

While Lamar only officially performs on 5 of the 14 tracks on the album, he has a writing credit for each song and also has a few vocal appearances that are not credited. The rest of the album is full of equally important featured artists that perfectly compliment Kendrick’s vision. SZA, The Weekend, Jorja Smith, James Blake, Zacari and Anderson .Paak shape a varying vocal landscape that ranges from delicate R&B visages to eerie prey-stalking grooves to slowly lull you to sleep before Ab-Soul, Vince Staples, Future and SOB X RBE attack your senses with their verbal claws. Its an enthralling compilation of sounds, voices, and styles that seem to build on or illustrate Wakanda and it's culture. Or, perhaps, it is an intersection between Wakanda and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or better put, their inevitable clash. A conflict that will undoubtedly occur throughout the film, and one that we'll more than likely see personified by T'Challa and Killmonger’s aggressions.

My Favorite Tracks

In no particular order, these are my five favorite songs on this album:

  1. All The Stars (With SZA)
  2. Pray For Me (With The Weekend)
  3. Opps (With Vince Staples, Yugen Blakrok)
  4. I Am (With Jorja Smith)
  5. Seasons (With Mozzy, Sjava, Reason)

While the album as a whole is great, I really enjoyed these five songs. So much so, that again, while I enjoyed the album as a whole,  I've already been replaying a lot of these tracks out of order and on their own.

But, of these five, All The Stars and Pray For Me are definitely the standouts. They are probably the two best songs of the album. They both have a uniquely rich and cinematic feel, making them wholly captivating and genuinely moving. They are a synesthetic dream that blends sound with the all encompassing texture of the physical tangible world. One hears what Kendrick sees and one feels what Kendrick has created. It’s a captivating experience that is crowned by Lamar’s consistent creative tenacity and his knack for achieving the unexpected. 

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Wakanda Forever!