Marvel’s Black Panther was first introduced in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War but after a standout, memorable debut alongside Marvel’s group of “Avengers,” Black Panther (aka T’Challa) proved to be much more than just a supporting role. Now, with the release the highly-anticipated stand-alone film, Black Panther has officially made his proper debut.
The film’s predominantly black cast, impeccable visuals, and the story was reason enough to excite fans. But to top it off, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler enlisted Kendrick Lamar and TDE’s Anthony Tiffith to curate the soundtrack, Black Panther: The Album, which features a colorful sonic palette that consists of afrobeats, hip-hop, soul and other sounds. While the movie drew more on Afro-centric beats than its official Kendrick Lamar-helmed soundtrack, the film was chock full of memorable (and subtle) music moments and messages.
Here are five of the best music moments from Black Panther.
Public Enemy poster hangs on the wall in N’Jobu’s apartment.
The film begins by taking viewers back to Oakland, CA in 1992. As the scene opens, a faint old-school beat reminiscent of classic hip-hop boom bap lingers in the background as kids play basketball outside on the court. The camera makes its way to N’Jobu’s apartment (played by Sterling K. Brown), where N’Jobu and his longtime friend James are planning their next heist. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler makes an important connection to Black Panther Party and the ’90s hip-hop era by hanging up a Public Enemy poster apartment and starting the movie in Oakland, where the Black Panther Party was founded.
Nakia and T’Challa take a stroll to “Bèrèbèrè” feat. Ali Farka Touré.
When we finally get to Wakanda, the fictional country African country is just as scenic as you’d imagine and the Afro-Caribbean sounds used in the film make the country even more appealing. At one point in the film, T’Challa (Chad Boseman) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) reunite after some time apart and take a stroll through their native land. As they stroll through a busy market, Malian artist Idrissa Soumaoro’s “Berebere” ft. Ali Farka Toure enters, courtesy of Ludwig Göransson, who scored the film. Goransson kept the typical cinematic, triumphant sounds heard in most superhero movies but made sure to infuse a melange of African sounds and textures from horns to drums and chants.
Psy makes a cameo… sort of.
The soundtrack for Black Panther was meticulously crafted to match the worldly aesthetic of the movie from the Afrobeat-laden instrumentals to South Korean artist Psy’s brief salute when T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye traveled to Korea.
Black Panther: The Album cuts “Pray For Me” and “Opps” get a moment to shine.
On “Pray For Me,” The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar take on T’Challa’s perspective as the tandem laments on the burdens of a hero and what it takes to protect those you love. The triumphant single sets the mood for the action scene it plays in as T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye (Danai Gurira) join forces to obtain the vibranium antagonist Klaue stole. A sweeping, cinematic piano creeps in during the fighting scene before segueing into the high-energy, bass-heavy rhythm of “Opps,” which takes the spotlight as the trio head on a high-speed chase to catch Klaue.
Klaue delivers his own cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love.”
Klaue served as the main antagonist in Black Panther but the villain also gave the film some its most standout (and hilarious) moments. When Klaue and his entourage entered the casino in Korea, Everett Ross, a CIA operative, asked Klaue if he had a mixtape dropping soon due to the number of men he waltzed into the building with. Klaue sarcastically responded by telling his partner to send Ross his Soundcloud mixtape link but Ross rejected the offer.
Further down in the movie, Klaue is captured and placed in an interrogation room where the villain decides to flex his vocal chops. He begins to sing Haddaway’s 90s hit “What Is Love,” placing emphasis on the line “Baby don’t hurt me” as he’s chained to a chair awaiting his fate.
Black Panther is in theaters everywhere now.