EditorialMusic

My Favorite Album of 2018 (so far)

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My Favorite Album of the Year

We’re halfway through 2018, and so many incredible albums, singles, and mix tapes have been released into the hip hop community. Some of my favorite of this year are KOD” by J.Cole, DAYTONA” by Pusha T, Bobby Tarantino II“, by Logic, and the Scary Hours” single by Drake. Out of all of the music released this year, my favorite is definitely Black Panther: The Album, Music From And Inspired By by many different artists from “Top Dawg Entertainment”.Why is this my favorite album of the year so far? Well, here’s why.

Storytelling

As you can probably tell, the Black Panther Album was made to coincide with the release of the blockbuster hit movie, Black Panther. The album very clearly shows that through the names of the songs, lyrics of the songs, and how the songs are sung. An example of this could be throughout the album, Kendrick Lamar, one of the lead producers (creators) of the album, talks about Erik Killmonger, and T’challa, the two main characters of the movie, in first person perspective. This shows the premise of the movie, and obviously, like I just stated, shows the main characters and conflicts of the movie. Another element of storytelling in the album is in the names of the songs. For example, the song, “King’s Dead”, shows the part of the movie where Kilmonger and T’challa fight, and Kilmonger almost kills T’challa, who is the king of Wakanda. Another element that shows this is in the lyrics of the song. In what I like to call the second part of the song, where it takes a change of pace and tempo, Kendrick starts rapping in the perspective of Kilmonger, where he says:

Fuck integrity, fuck your pedigree, fuck your feelings, fuck your culture – Killmonger doesn’t care about the customs of Wakanda, or what they believe. He just wants the throne.
Fuck your moral, fuck your family, fuck your tribe
Fuck your land, fuck your children, fuck your wives – Killmonger wants to use Vibranium, which is exclusive to Wakanda, to liberate Black people around the world.
Who am I? Not your father, not your brother – Killmonger could be considered an outsider, since he grew up in California. 
Not your reason, not your future
Not your comfort, not your reverence, not your glory
Not your heaven, not your angel, not your spirit
Not your message, not your freedom
Not your people, not your neighbor
Not your baby, not your equal
Not the title y’all want me under
All hail King Killmonger


If you’ve seen the movie, you can instantly tell that Kendrick is talking about how Kilmonger doesn’t care for the customs of Wakanda or what the kings of Wakanda have done for thousands of years, hiding Vibranium from the rest of the world. That, specifically, is found in the first three lines of the lyrics, when he says, “Fuck integrity, fuck your pedigree, fuck your feelings, fuck your culture”. According to Michael B. Jordan, the actor that played Erik Killmonger says Killmonger has a by-any-means-necessary kind of attitude… He has a different opinion on how Wakanda should be ran. He has his eyes on the throne, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there.” This means that during the alliterate part of the song when Kendrick Lamar is saying “Fuck your ____”, Killmonger doesn’t care at all about Wakanda. His ultimate life goal is to overthrow the king of Wakanda and use Vibranium to arm people around the world.

Immersion and Relatability

This album was meant to coincide with the release of “Black Panther”. This means that the creators of the album, should do the best to encompass the feel of Wakanda, and Black Panther. I think that they do an incredible job at this, utilizing Talking Drums, a Senegalese percussion instrument, heavily throughout the album. This isn’t even close to being the only instrument used! Listen to the entire album, and you will be able to hear native singing, other native instruments, and lyrics that relate back to African culture, characteristics, and even Wakanda! For instance, in the song “Opps”, by Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok, there is an entire Verse which seems dedicated to talking about Black Panther and Wakanda.

I move like a millipede 
When I flex them tendons like rubber trees – Obviously referring to Rubber Trees, which are mainly grown in Africa
Young Millie Jackson back to the shit
Mouthpiece drawn, got a verbal armory
Stack bodies, not figurines – Possibly referring to the powers of the Black Panther, or how in the movie, he kills people, unlike in other Marvel movies, and is very stealthy, almost as if he is moving beneath the surface

Move beneath the surface, submarine
I’m half machine, obscene with a light sword  – Could be talking about one of the villains in the movie, Ulysses Klaue
Look inside the brain, it’s a ride in the psych ward
What you standing on the side for?
Roar like a lioness, punch like a cyborg – The Black Panther looks like a cat, but fights in a cyborg suit
Spit slick, attack is subliminal
Flowers on my mind, but the rhyme style sinister
Stand behind my own bars, like a seasoned criminal
Gotham City Streets, I’ll play the *bleep*
Crushing any system, that belittles us
Antidote to every poison they administer – Refers to Killmonger’s goal, to end oppression by arming black people with guns, with guns being the antidote
Switch it like time signatures
Colors in my aura tend cover the perimeter
Brown bodies that the blues wanna shoot through – Reference to police brutality. The blues is slang for policeman
Hi-res lasers wanna (zoom, zoom, zoom)
Roll over your eyes
My strength ain’t nothing like my size – Possibly a reference to how to the outside world, Wakanda seems like a small, impoverished nation, but in actuality is the most advanced country in the world
Blades on the top, Kathleen Cleaver – Kathleen Cleaver was a very significant member of the Black Panther movement
Tangle my cords like a weaver

In this one verse, there is so much to be said about Black Panther, Wakanda, and oppression of black people in the modern era. This shows exactly how much thought went into crafting this album. It shows how the artists really wanted to have it relate with the movie. For me, this is a huge reason on why this is my favorite album of this year. It makes you feel like you are listening to the movie. It immerses the listener in African culture and the superhero Black Panther.

Conclusion

Some may say that the Black Panther album is just a normal rap album, featuring tons of different artists. But, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. This album, like the movie, is ultimately about the combination of African – American and traditional African culture. This album showcases incredible instrumentals with even better rapping/singing. If you like rap, this album is a must listen.