Various Artists - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - Music From and Inspired By Music Album Reviews

Various Artists - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - Music From and Inspired By Music Album Reviews
The soundtrack from the new Marvel blockbuster has a staggering sonic diversity, but the absence of a curator is felt in how loosely songs are tied to the movie.

The first Black Panther had many themes—neocolonialism, infighting and unity across the African diaspora, the abundance of Soundcloud rappers in the late 2010s—but its most potent was the story of T’Challa becoming his own leader and his own man. In the record-smashing Marvel blockbuster from 2018, T’Challa had just inherited the throne of Wakanda and spent most of the film figuratively and literally grappling with the consequences of his ancestor’s actions. In the end, T’Challa kills his insurrectionist cousin Killmonger before taking his advice and opening up Wakanda’s borders to the world—with an emphasis on Black people and displaced Wakandans around the world—for the first time. By embracing the role of the Black Panther on his own terms, T’Challa set a new chapter in motion for the most technologically advanced nation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Earth.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever deals with an inversion of the same main challenge. T’Challa is dead—actor Chadwick Boseman passed away from a long and private battle with colon cancer in 2020—and without their warrior king, Wakanda is in disrepair. Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and general Okoye (Danai Gurira) attempt to pick up the pieces and fend off invading forces, including those from Talokan, an underwater society led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta). Everyone involved confronts the weight of inheritance amid the fallout from T’Challa’s death, giving Wakanda Forever a more somber tone compared to the celebratory burst of the original. The film’s soundtrack follows in lockstep, trading the fireworks and scope of the Kendrick Lamar and TDE-led Black Panther The Album from 2018 for something more intimate but no less devoted to intercultural exchange.

Also unlike Black Panther The Album, Wakanda Forever has no celebrity guest curator. Director Ryan Coogler and composer Ludwig Göransson tackled the entire project themselves, recording over 2,500 hours of music across three continents. Göransson spent time in both Mexico City and Lagos familiarizing himself with local instruments and sounds, and the expanded roster of voices brings dimension to the soundtrack’s best songs. To accommodate the new characters from the Mayan-influenced Talokan, Latino and Mesoamerican artists are sprinkled in with others from across the African diaspora; South African amapiano shares space with Bay Area hip-hop, Afrobeats, R&B, reggae, and Mexican folk music.

Wakanda Forever’s musical diversity is staggering, and its best songs both flesh out their respective cultures and key moments in the movie. Namor’s birth scene is amplified by Mexican singer Vivir Quintana and rapper Mare Advertencia Lirika’s haunting vocals over deep drums and shakers on “Árboles Bajo El Mar.” Pivotal scenes within Talokan and Wakanda are soundtracked by the aqueous synths of Foudeqush and Göransson’s gossamer “Con La Brisa” and the shuffling vibrance of Fireboy DML’s “Coming Back For You,” respectively. Aside from the bland ramblings of Tobe and Fat Nwigwe on the chase scene number “They Want It, But No,” most of the songs used in the movie proper work within and out of their filmic context, painting their respective pictures in your mind on every replay.

The rest of the songs across the “from” and “inspired by” sections of the album are more of a mixed bag. The two highest profile tracks—Rihanna’s Chadwick Boseman tribute “Lift Me Up” and Tems’ cover of the Bob Marley staple “No Woman, No Cry”—are competent ballads meant for endless rotation on the autumn playlist at your local mall. Snow tha Product and E-40 bring an infectious Bay Area energy to “La Vida” that doesn’t quite translate to Oakland rapper OG DAYV’s “Limoncello,” bookended by an autopiloted Future verse. It’s fun to skim through Ckay and PinkPantheress’ dainty duet on “Anya Mmiri” and to hear Mexican rapper Pat Boy rap entirely in Mayan on “Laayli’ kuxa’ano’one,” but there’s a lack of truly show-stopping moments. While part of that is clearly by design because of the more reflective tone, another part stems from the lack of a guiding voice.

The reason why Kendrick’s presence on Black Panther The Album—and Beyoncé’s presence on her 2019 Lion King companion album The Lion King: The Gift—is effective goes beyond being a co-sign from a Black musical powerhouse. Those two albums worked because their leading artists embodied their films’ respective themes and used them to tie every song together. Kendrick’s relationship with spirituality and identity matched T’Challa’s in the same way that Beyoncé’s explorations of family and honor spoke to Simba and Nala’s. Different artists from different genres and countries shared space, yet every song was in conversation with each other. Coogler and Göransson’s efforts are admirable, but there’s no analogue for that on Wakanda Forever, no uniting element to emphasize the importance of T’Challa’s—and Boseman’s—passing. Many of these songs nominally speak to themes of spirituality, inheritance, and connection, but their respective conversations begin and end when their time runs out. That lack of connective tissue means the messages feel anonymous, even hollow; it doesn’t make the songs any less good, but it makes the album feel disposable when it should be anything but.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Various Artists - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - Music From and Inspired By Music Album Reviews Various Artists - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - Music From and Inspired By Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 18, 2022 Rating: 5


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