This album is the official soundtrack for the Black Panther movie that just came out (as of the writing of this review). I haven't seen the movie yet, but I was really excited to listen to this album after hearing King's Dead. That song is awesome. This album is a really good length, only fourteen tracks long and 49 minutes, so overall it never really dragged on too much at all. But let's just get into my thoughts on the individual tracks.
1. Black Panther (Performed by Kendrick Lamar) (Produced by Kendrick Lamar, Sounwave, Cubeatz and Matt Schaeffer)
My favourite part about these tracks is definitely the instrumentals that sound very tribal and African in nature. I love having those unique raw sounds involved in these tracks, that shit is dope as fuck. Anyway, I really like the production Kendrick raps over all throughout this, I love how it switches between calm and really frenetic several times. Kendrick raps pretty well like he usually does, but something feels like its missing. The only thing that was kind of annoying was how he repeated king so many times at the beginning, but I still understand what he was doing. I haven't got a lot to say about this track, it's just cool. 3.5/5
2. All The Stars (Performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA) (Produced by Sounwave and Al Shux)
This was one of the singles that was released prior to the album dropping, I never ended up listening to it and was ready to hear SZA's contribution to this song. I really loved SZA's Ctrl project she released. It's a damn near perfect album in my opinion, I have no problems with it whatsoever. Thankfully SZA matched the expectations I had set for her. She sung absolutely beautifully and she had the strongest contribution by far. Kendrick's verse was good, but it was very toned down. Kendrick is the kind of artist where you can tell when he deliberately dumbs himself down, so I did feel that a little on this track. This is another good track though. 4/5
3. X (Performed by Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Saudi and Kendrick Lamar) (Produced by Sounwave and Illmind)
I think this is definitely my favourite track on the album. The production is fantastic and everybody has amazing contributions, especially 2 Chainz. Kendrick's is honestly good enough for him to not need a verse. It's really catchy, and I love how he delivers it. Saudi's unique accent mixed with his use of autotune works really well with this track, he just sounds like he fits in perfectly. I wish Travis Scott was on this song too, he would have sounded great. Needless to say, Schoolboy murdered his verse. No complaints there. But Jesus. 2 Chainz. When the instrumental switched up 2 Chainz was just going off. I love his unique flow. He's a rapper that can manage to make seemingly basic lyrics sound just incredible. He was definitely the highlight of this track for me. After hearing his last album, his feature on Chloraseptic and his feature on this, he's in my top 10 favourite current rappers. This song is fantastic to me. 5/5
4. The Ways (Performed by Khalid and Swae Lee) (Produced by Sounwave, BadBadNotGood and Kendrick Lamar)
I normally find Khalid so damn boring. He doesn't really sing on a very wide range, he just moreso speaks in a low voice very melodically. He makes great music for lowkey chill vibes, but I never really like his production. However, in this case I think that the production suited him perfectly. I love his chorus so much on this song. It's just really nice to listen to. His verse was cool. My favourite part of this song is definitely Swae Lee though. His voice has a really great contrast to Khalid and the instrumental in my opinion, plus I really enjoy how he uses autotune. This is a song that a lot of people generally didn't like that much, but I still thoroughly enjoy this track. 4.5/5
5. Opps (Performed by Vince Staples, Yugen Blakrok and Kendrick Lamar) (Produced by Sounwave and Ludwig Goransson)
This track is what I was talking about when I was saying I loved the tribal sounds on this album. The drums sound fantastic. Despite my love for this song's production, I really wish Kendrick wasn't on here. He sounds so out of place to be honest. That's not to say his verse was bad, I just don't think it blended as well as the other two. Vince Staples sounded perfect for this song however, he killed his verse. Yugen Blakrok sounds like an African artist, and naturally, she suits the track the most. She actually has a really fantastic verse, the best on the whole song, she just sounds badass and has a lot of great lines. This song is really great overall even though I don't love Kendrick's contribution. 5/5
6. I Am (Performed by Jorja Smith) (Produced by Kendrick Lamar and Sounwave)
The production on this song is really fantastic. It sets a really dark and depressing atmosphere. It feels overwhelming at times for me. It's perfectly complemented by Jorja Smith's vocals. She has good lyrics, but this song isn't very subject heavy, it's just more her voicing her frustrations. This is another great song, I can't really comment specifically on her techniques or her writing ability because I'm only really knowledgeable when it comes to hip-hop. My way of listening to other forms of music is how sonically pleasing it is, and then if the lyrics stand out as boring or mainstream it's not good. This has great production, and good lyrics, so it's a good song to me. 4/5
7. Paramedic! (Performed by Kendrick Lamar and SOB X RBE) (Produced by DJ Dahi, Sounwave and Cubeatz)
This song reminds me of YG with it's production style. It's a very West Coast banger style track. It's fantastic. I love Kendrick's hook on this song, it's so catchy. One thing you have to give Kendrick credit for is his use of his voice. He has so many damn voices and tones and they all work. SOB X RBE was completely foreign to me before I heard this track, but I think I might have to check them out. It's a group that consists of six rappers, but only four appear on this track. Every single one of them murders this track. Hard. DaBoii has my favourite line on the song easily though.
"New baby chop, let it sing, it's a Drake nigga"
That line is so fucking hard. This song is really fantastic, it's definitely in my top 3 for the album. 5/5
8. Bloody Waters (Performed by Ab-Soul, Anderson Paak and James Blake) (Produced by Kendrick Lamar, Sounwave and Ron Hannibal)
James Blake has a great introduction and outro on this song. This production is pretty basic, but everyone on the track makes it work really well. I especially love Anderson .Paak's chorus on this song. He has such a unique style, I need to listen to more of his music. Ab-Soul has two monster verses on this track two. I actually wasn't a fan of this song the first time I heard it, but after paying attention to the lyrics it really raised it up a great deal.
"You might wanna bypass, this smoke ain't gas trick"
That line is one of many dope double entendres on this song. I really enjoy this song a lot. 5/5
9. King's Dead (Performed by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future and James Blake) (Produced by Mike Will Made It, Teddy Walton, Sounwave, 30 Roc, Twon Beatz and AxlFolie)
Jay Rock is my favourite part of this song. His verse sounds so fucking badass. Kendrick has a great hook and a really fantastic verse at the end, but I don't know. Something about Jay Rock is just so much more enjoyable to me than Kendrick a lot of the time. It's probably just how street he is. Future has the weakest contribution obviously, the whole "Ladi-dadi da, slob on me knob" part doesn't actually bother me that much at all really, but it's Future. He's generally pretty damn average. I've never understood his popularity. Travis Scott is so much better than he is. Anyway, this song is still dope af regardless. 4/5
10. Redemption Interlude (Performed by Zacari) (Produced by Hykeem Carter and Kendrick Lamar)
There's something very beautiful about this interlude. Zacari's voice perfectly matches the production. I wish that this was a full song, because it is far superior to the next track in my opinion. I won't rate this since it's an interlude, but if I was to rate it, it would be a five.
11. Redemption (Performed by Zacari and Babes Wodumo) (Produced by The Arcade, Teddy Walton, Scribz, Mike Riley and Aaron Bow)
There isn't anything inherently wrong with this song in my opinion, it's just really plain compared to all of the other tracks. It just bores me at times. Meh. Nice singing, boring structure and uninteresting lyrics. 2.5/5
12. Seasons (Performed by Mozzy, Sjava and Reason) (Produced by Kendrick Lamar, Sounwave and Frank Dukes)
I really like the vibe of this song. The instrumental is really soothing and relaxing, plus the vocals from Sjava at the start of the song are really beautiful, even though he's speaking another language, you just feel his emotion so strongly. This is the start of Mozzy's verse.
I cried when lil' bruh died
Got high and watched the sunrise
Wiggle on 'em if it's one time
They done hung all of my people
I love all of my people
I'm in the slums with all of my people
They tryna tell us that we all equal
We get no justice so it ain't peaceful, yeah
Mozzy had a great verse. However, Reason definitely had the strongest and most heartfelt rap out of the two of them. He sounded so passionate and had such a fantastic delivery. This song is really fantastic. 5/5
13. Big Shot (Performed by Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott) (Produced by Cardo, Sounwave, Cubeatz and Matt Schaeffer)
I was one of the few people who really loved Kendrick's verse on New Freezer, which ends up being part of the hook on this song. I love the part from New Freezer, but I really dislike the second part of the hook. I also wasn't the biggest fan of Kendrick's verse at all to say the least. It felt so lazy and his delivery was really annoying in my opinion. He just sounds like he's trying way too hard to be happy and energetic. I loved Travis Scott's verse though. Overall this song was probably one of the weakest ones on the entire album in my opinion. It's just ok to me, if it wasn't for the fun production and Travis then I would probably hate this. 3/5
14. Pray For Me (Performed by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar) (Produced by Frank Dukes and Doc McKinney)
I love the Weeknd. His vocals are really fantastic on this song, even though he's pretty poppy, I still really enjoy it. The production is awesome too. It just thumps. Kendrick also has a really great verse alongside it. This song is a great way to end the soundtrack. 4/5
This album really surprised me. This ended up being way better than typical soundtracks. There were only two songs I didn't really like on this whole album. For a 13 Track effort that's solid. Especially for a Soundtrack. This album is great. Anyone who loves TDE and Tribal influences will more than likely really like this album.
Overall Result: 82/100
Favourite Tracks: X, Opps, Seasons, Bloody Waters, Paramedic, The Ways, King's Dead
Least Favourite: Redemption