King Kendrick: The Black Panther album music may not win all the awards, but it will be on quite a few lists

By on March 1, 2018

Black Panther The Album Music  From and Inspired By will not be the best rap album released this year. It’s only February, which means there’s plenty of time on the clock for someone — be it Kanye West, Chance the Rapper or someone who isn’t even on our radars yet — to show up with the next classic. Hell, there’s more than enough time for King Kendrick Lamar himself to show up with another killer release. That said, it is a shockingly good record for a modern soundtrack release, and for people who don’t really dip their toes in the water of hip-hop it might very well end up on their best albums of the year list.

It seems silly to be skeptical of anything that Lamar touches, given the hot streak that he’s been on, but you can’t win all the time; yes, he released To Pimp A Butterfly, but he’s also on that awful remix of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” And really, how long has it been since a superhero movie had a soundtrack album that was worth a damn?

If you think of something better, let me know, but best I can tell the last truly good “music from and inspired by” superhero release was attached to 2002’s Spider-man. Like it or not, it did spawn at least two pretty popular singles, Chad Kroeger’s “Hero” and Corey Taylor’s “Bother,” forever attaching them in music history and making their feud last year hilarious; a feud, I might add, Taylor lost because comparing Chad Kroeger to KFC isn’t an insult because KFC is delicious (Tip: if you’re going to try insulting someone by comparing them to fast food, the answer is always to attach them to Papa John’s). Not for nothing, it also had a really great Black Lab track on it.

There was a time when superhero soundtracks were actually pretty awesome on the regular. We act like superhero movies didn’t exist before Nolan’s Batman flicks, but anyone with an interest in music knew that the older Batman movies were worth it for no other reason than the excellent soundtracks they had. Those flicks were the perfect vehicle to keep artists in the public’s mind in between albums, even if the songs sometimes didn’t have a damn thing to do with the movies they were attached to.

I mean, think about just some of the wonders we got thanks to the Batman soundtracks alone:

 

Prince, “Batdance”

Even supremely dumb, Batman-centric Prince jams were roughly 75% better than what your favorite cooks up on a regular basis. Kind of tragic no one ever thought to cast Prince as The Joker, because that would have been incredible.

 

U2, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”

Quite possibly their last great single before they went full dad-rock in 2000. Fun fact: this was their highest charting single released between “One” and “Discothèque.”

 

Seal, “Kiss From a Rose”

Although I’m personally not sure this song has stood the test of time, there’s no denying that it was a jam when it was released. But judging from the nearly 100 million streams it has on Spotify, I’m probably just wrong.

 

The Smashing Pumpkins, “The End Is the Beginning Is the End”

The Batman & Robin soundtrack didn’t have the hits that Batman Forever did, it did have the last great single from The Smashing Pumpkins, and I say that as someone who thinks Monuments To an Elegy did not get enough love. (For what it’s worth, “The Everlasting Gaze” should have been their last great single, but wasn’t officially released as one even though it had a rad video. The music industry is weird.)

Superhero movie soundtracks also gave us the weird novelty that is Spawn: The Album. Each of the fourteen tracks on Spawn: The Album, released in 1997, pair a modern rock band of the time with an electronic music act. The results don’t always work, but it does feature the stellar “Familiar” by Incubus & D.J. Greyboy, DJ Spooky’s drum & bass take on Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and the wild teamup of Atari Teenage Riot and Slayer.

My point is this: if Disney can shell out the money for Kendrick Lamar curated Black Panther soundtrack, why stop there? Give Spider-man the emo/hip-hop mixtape a modern teenager deserves. Do an Avengers soundtrack full of wacky, random collaborations. Where is my Thor power metal record? Or hell, maybe just do what worked in the ‘90s and have bands submit b-sides that aren’t related to the movie but together work as a compilation release.

But even if they don’t, the Black Panther soundtrack exists, and that’s a win as it is. It’s pretty much the perfect melding of rapper and character, and I’ll never hate on Kendrick for getting that Disney money. PJH


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