Black Panther doesn’t come out for another two weeks, but fortunately we won’t have to wait as long for the long-awaited Black Panther soundtrack. And thanks to Kendrick Lamar, we can now solidly confirm that the soundtrack is just as star-studded as we expected it to be.
Earlier this week, Lamar casually tweeted out the cover art and tracklist for Black Panther: The Album, which the Grammy-winning rapper curated and produced with Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony “Tog Dawg” Tiffith. We already knew that Top Dawg label-mates Lamar and SZA were featured on the album, as Black Panther’s lead single “All the Stars” (on which the two artists collaborated) came out back in January. “King’s Dead” featuring Lamar, Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake dropped a week later.
But we now know that Lamar is represented on Black Panther soundtrack not once, not twice, but five times (including on the album’s first track, aptly titled “Black Panther”). And The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Anderson .Paak, Vince Staples, and Khalid are just a few of the names listed beside tracks like “Opps,” “Big Shot,” and “Pray for Me.” Beyoncé is, sadly, nowhere to be found on the list,. But fans are still speculating about a potential surprise Queen Bey appearance, as the “Sorry” songstress attended Sunday’s Grammy Awards ceremony dressed in head-to-toe black with a matching panther-shaped clutch and earrings. Plus, Beyoncé has been known to drop singles and albums out of the blue.
There’s no question that Black Panther: The Album’s got a ton of star power—maybe even enough star power to equal that of Black Panther itself. We’re not sure if the Kendrick Lamar/SZA/The Weeknd/Future combo is enough to rival the Chadwick Boseman/Michael B. Jordan/Daniel Kaluuya/Lupita Nyong’o combo, but it’s definitely a close race.
And on one hand, we’d love it if other movies (and movie directors) followed Black Panther and Ryan Coogler’s example by curating film soundtracks that generate just as much buzz as the actual films. Fans have been eagerly awaiting Black Panther’s arrival for months, sure, but the film’s all-star soundtrack has arguably piqued the interest of people who may not have gone to see the movie otherwise. What if Ava DuVernay brought in Mary J. Blige to curate the A Wrinkle in Time soundtrack? Or if Gary Ross hired Rihanna to curate the Ocean’s 8 soundtrack (after she finished filming her scenes, of course)? The possibilities are endless.
On the other hand, the undeniable force of Black Panther’s one-two punch may not be something that can be emulated or repeated ever again, or at least not any time soon. Because Black Panther isn’t just Black Panther—it’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s an expression of black power, talent, and elegance. It’s a chance for black Canadians and Americans to see and hear themselves being represented in ways that they’ve never been represented before, and a chance for them to claim the spotlight.
The creative forces behind the film, particularly Coogler, have done all that they can to ensure that Black Panther is a complete cultural and artistic experience. From the film’s soundtrack to the cast and crew’s regal, awe-inspiring red-carpet attire to the film itself, everything that Black Panther represents is meant to be consumed, adored, and revered. And Coogler’s efforts have certainly paid off—according to Fandango, Black Panther has sold more advanced tickets than any other superhero movie this early before its wide release.
But it’s not a goal that is in any way easy to achieve. Would we be thrilled if other directors tried to rise to Black Panther’s level by enlisting artists to put together Grammy-worthy soundtracks? Of course we would. We just don’t know if anyone will be able to pull it off as well as Kendrick Lamar and Ryan Coogler have. And for now, we’re ok with that.
Black Panther: The Album drops February 9 and Black Panther arrives in theatres on February 16. Give “All the Stars” a listen below.