Marvel will unleash its first superhero movie of the year, Black Panther, this February and for some — many, actually — the release date can’t come soon enough.
The film company sent the Internet into a tizzy when they unveiled the first official trailer for the hotly-anticipated film and rightfully so, as Black Panther features a predominantly black cast and a black superhero as the lead — a major leap in shifting the narrative of black films and championing inclusivity in an industry that’s long been criticized for its lack of diversity (see: #OscarsSoWhite).
But there’s more. As if the stunning visuals and cast previewed in the first teaser and subsequent trailers weren’t enough to leave fans waiting with bated breath, an Easter egg slipped into Kendrick Lamar’s “Love” video caused anticipation to reach fever pitch: Kung Fu Kenny is involved in Black Panther: The Album.
Kendrick and TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith confirmed their involvement in the process and gifted fans the first single off the forthcoming album, “All the Stars” featuring the TDE wordsmith and his labelmate SZA.
The rollout of the remaining track list hasn’t been the most forthcoming, and with just a few weeks left until Black Panther hits theaters on Feb. 16, Billboard scoured the internet to find out all there is to know about the upcoming Kendrick-helmed soundtrack. Here’s what we found.
Kendrick Lamar Is executive producer for Black Panther: The Album
Cinematic, orchestral film scores play a major role in movies, but it’s the soundtrack — and of course, the actual movie — that reels audience members in from the onset. So it was no surprise that Black Panther director Ryan Coogler would handpick the hip-hop hitmaker to curate the movie’s soundtrack with original music, giving fans another reason to look forward to the upcoming film.
Fans caught wind of Kendrick’s involvement in the film when the rapper released the video for “Love.” Near the middle of the romantic visual, a clapperboard that reads, “B. Panther Soundtrack Coming Soon” made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo that suggested the rapper had a hand in the film’s soundtrack. Shortly after, Coogler confirmed what many had already guessed.
“I am honored to be working with such an incredible artist whose work has been so inspirational, and whose artistic themes align with those we explore in the film. I can’t wait for the world to hear what Kendrick and TDE have in store,” Coogler said in a statement announcing Kendrick as the executive producer.
Kendrick chimed in: “Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is amazing, from its cast to its director. The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I’m truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside Ryan and Marvel’s vision.”
Black Panther: The Album Will Mainly Feature TDE Artists
If the first two singles released from the Black Panther soundtrack are to be believed, Kendrick and his TDE roster will be peppered throughout the track list. Kung Fu Kenny kicked things off with music’s newest darling SZA for “All the Stars” — an atmospheric, pop-leaning bop where the CTRL singer’s angelic warble connects seamlessly with Kendrick’s tongue-tied flow. TDE rapper Jay Rock followed suit and returned with his first single since his 2015 album 90059, “King’s Dead” and recruited Kendrick, Future, and James Blake to lace the booming, trap-laden beat with their distinct flair.
Kendrick enlists a range of producers.
Along with his TDE labelmates, the “Humble” rapper called upon his go-to producer Sounwave for production on “All The Stars” as well as Grammy award-winning producer Al Shux. So far, other producers on the project include Mike WiLL Made-It and Teddy Walton (“King’s Dead”).
Kendrick has a collaboration with Vince Staples and The Weeknd in the works.
Marvel gifted fans a new trailer for Black Panther earlier this month, which featured an unreleased song from Kendrick and Vince Staples presumably titled “Cops on the Radar.” On the electronic, finger-snappy tune, Kendrick rapped, “Y’all all want money, all y’all want from me/ Y’all wanna die in the shade of things/ We all gon’ die, embrace the thing/ Watch me do my shit,” as he repeatedly says, “Cops on the radar (good to me)/ Cops on the radar (good to me).”
Anticipation for the soundtrack heightened as reports surfaced that Kendrick would be connecting with The Weeknd for a new song on the soundtrack after The Weeknd posted an illustrated image of the Black Panther on his Instagram. Sources close to the situation confirmed the upcoming collaboration to Billboard, teasing the track as “Starboy on steroids.”