Only a week after its release, Marvel’s blockbuster hit Black Panther has already broken several box office records and is on track to continue doing so. In addition to introducing audiences to another Marvel superhero, the film honors the vibrancy of black culture in the people, places and music thoughtfully brought to life onscreen—which brings us to today’s post! As Black Panther invites its viewers into the fictional Afro-futuristic utopia of Wakanda (and briefly back to 1990s Oakland, Calif.), its visceral soundtrack leads the way. Today we’re bringing you 10 fun facts about the musicians, instruments and compositions that help set the stage for Black Panther.
- Listeners can enjoy the music from the film on two companion compilations: the hip-hop heavy “Black Panther: The Album (Music From and Inspired By),” curated, produced and co-written by GRAMMY-winning rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar and his label home TDE; and the powerful “Black Panther: The Score,” spearheaded by GRAMMY-nominated Swedish composer and record producer Ludwig Göransson.
- “Black Panther: The Album” has remained atop the Billboard 200 chart since its February 9 release (and the film’s score album, released a week later, is set to climb into the top half of the Billboard 200 chart within the coming week).
- Göransson and the film’s director Ryan Coogler have a long, collaborative history. Since the two met as USC film students nearly a decade ago, Göransson has scored a number of Coogler’s film projects—from student shorts to full-length features Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed (2015).
- When Coogler approached Lamar about contributing to the film’s soundtrack, he hoped the internationally-acclaimed rapper would contribute a few songs. However, upon seeing some of the footage, Lamar expressed interest in creating the film’s full soundtrack album.
- Prior to Black Panther, Göransson was lauded for his work producing the Childish Gambino’s GRAMMY-nominated 2016 album Awaken, My Love! (boasting the GRAMMY-winning track “Redbone”).
- After reading the script, Göransson went to Africa for a month to craft the sound of Wakanda. He had the good fortune of having acclaimed GRAMMY-nominated Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal agree to serve as his guide. Moviegoers hear Baaba Maal’s solitary mournful voice welcome the film’s protagonist to Wakanda at the opening of the movie. His song proceeds to tell a cautionary tale of a fallen elephant (representing a king) and the struggle between the need to replace him and the danger of trying to do so too quickly.
- Lamar’s Black Panther album features handpicked talent from around the globe including artists from Southern California (like Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak and various TDE crew members), Atlanta (2 Chainz, Future), England (James Blake, Jorja Smith) and South Africa (Sjava and Yugen Blakrok).
- Throughout his travels in Africa, Göransson grew fond of the West African ‘talking drum’—a drum held over the shoulder and squeezed to create different pitches resembling human speech. See if you can hear talking drums mimicking the protagonist’s name (T’Challa) throughout the film!
- In addition to his creative guidance on the entire album, Lamar is credited as a featured artist on five of the album’s 14 tracks. However, listeners can find Lamar’s voice on nearly every single track on the album.
- The film’s final two hours and fifteen minute-score—trimmed from an earlier four-hour version of the film/score—was brought to life by a 132-piece orchestra, African percussionists and a 40-piece choir, and conducted by Göransson and John Ashton Thomas over a two-week period at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Click here to experience the regal horns and emotive talking drums of
Black Panther: The Score.
Click here to check out its chart-topping hip-hop/rap companion
Black Panther: The Album.
Whether you check out the movie or give one of the film’s albums a listen (or both!), we hope you enjoy your musical journey to Wakanda.