20 Major Facts About The Black Panther 2 Album
On November 4th, the official Black Panther 2 soundtrack was released with Lift me UP, Rihanna’s new single, her first since 6 years.
Question: will the second album pursue the same message as the prior album, Black Panther, introduced with lead single “All the stars” which puts Black History in the spotlight, along its struggles ? Or will it create its own path and narrate a whole another story?
Let’s find answers in the new song Lift Me Up, first.
Lift Me Up, a warm tribute to Chadwick Boseman, face of a civilisation
On October 28th, Rihanna released the single “Lift Me Up” from the soundtrack of the 2nd Black Panther movie “Wakanda Forever”.
It was imagined and written by Rihanna together with Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems, Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson and director Ryan Coogle.
From the very first notes we know that the melody will follow a sad and nostalgic aesthetic, which is no coincidence as it was written as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, the lead actor of the first film, who died of cancer in 2020.
Tems says “After talking with Ryan [Coogler] and hearing his vision for the film and the song, I wanted to write something that portrayed a kind of warm embrace for all the people I’ve lost in my life. I tried to imagine how I would feel if I could sing to them and express how much I miss them.
Lift me Up is therefore about expressing a sense of comfort and protection emanating from our loved ones even after they are gone. The lyrics describe how this protection is essential to us in difficult times in our lives (grief).
“Burning in a hopeless dream
Hold me when you go to sleep
Keep me in the warmth of your love
When you depart, keep me safe
Safe and sound”
Everything is thought to characterize, the mourning and the homage, including through the clip.
Rihanna is dressed in white, a colour of passage, the passage from death to rebirth, the mutation of a being. It is also the colour of God, representing light, innocence, purity and righteousness. It is on a deserted beach which can evoke peace and tranquillity and it is a scene which takes place in the middle of a sunset, perhaps to announce the end of a cycle, of a life which must leave us. The fire brings that comfort, that warm embrace that we would like to give to the deceased lost in our lives.
Images from the film are used to showcase the female characters that were close to the actor and who must now rule and organise Wakanda without him.
A feeling of loneliness radiates at 1:18 where we see Shuri (T’Challa’s sister) alone beside her throne and on a red platform surrounded by water and devastating flames. Red in South Africa refers to mourning but also to violence and sacrifice. Shuri also wears white.
This is followed by a close-up shot on the face of Okoye, a character close to T’Challa, to highlight her sadness and tears.
It is clearly an approach based on mourning and the fight that follows, that this single adopts; by linking images from the film with the same aesthetic, it perhaps announces the turn that this 2nd Black Panther will take. More focused on this relationship with death than the first.
It is true that Lift Me Up, compared to its the previous main single “All the stars”, starts with a completely different message and deals much less, if at all, with the history, the claim and the African fight; but what about the 2nd album as a whole.
What the Black Panther 2 soundtrack is about
Before listening to the album we were a little skeptical about its content and its 19 tracks. Considering the Lift Me Up overture, one could suppose that it would only be only centered on the grief of T’Challa.
However, we do appreciate how much this project sounds complete and diverse, and focuses on a bigger picture than the loss of the Black King. It deals not only with the African culture, but also with its afro-descendants on other lands and highlights the struggle of marginalized groups in our society.
We will even notice that this project seems to sound much less mainstream than the first one and focuses more on traditional languages, artists and sonorities.
A mixture of social fight, heritage and appreciation of African civilization.
Knowing that Black Panther takes its title from a revolutionary movement of Afro-American liberation, it would seem obvious that the film and the soundtrack echoe the social battles of the African population and its descendants.
Let’s explore the different fights Black people would face according to this album.
1) Black Women and Resilience : « No Woman, No Cry » by Tems
Tems, a 27 year old Nigerian singer, offers an emotional cover of Bob Marley’s song “No Woman, No Cry”. This iconic tune is titled after a Jamaican patois expression “don’t cry woman”.
Marley created this song in 1974 to speak out for equality and women in ghettos around the world. He particularly addresses Trenchtown, a very poor Jamaican neighborhood where he grew up, in which murder, violence, mobsters, armed gangs, domestic abuse and much more occur…
By sharing it Marley wanted to bring hope to all the people living in these areas. This is no coincidence that Tems chose this song, which addressed the message of hope that she wanted to convey. « Everything’s gonna be all right » (sources)
2) Racism & Hypocrisy : They Want It But No
The couple Tobe Nwigwe and Fat Nwigwe released “They Want It But No” , a sound mainly in English but we find some words Igbo, a nod to the origins of Tobe who descends from this ethnic group of Nigeria, as this is a language spoken in southern Nigeria, Kogi, Benue, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and more.
Together they rap on a mix of afro beat and classical instrumentation. A mixture of occidental and african music.
NB: Afrobeat is a Nigerian music genre that involves the combination of West African musical styles (such as traditional Yoruba music and highlife) and American funk, jazz and soul influences, with a focus on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms, and percussion. The style was pioneered in the 1960s by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti, who is responsible for popularizing the style both within and outside Nigeria.
« They want the drip, they want the glow, they want my soul, they want the wave »
« I know you on my bumper, I know you want my thunder, Why the laws wanna take us under ? »
In this sound Tobe and Fat denounce the Black fantasy toward their culture. A fantasy that never gets passed the line of racism. A fact pretty much highlighted during the Black Lives Matter campaign, with the Black Squares on Instagram to call out the hyprocrisy of appreciating one’s culture, yet killing the people at the root of it.
Today, let’s take music as an example, many genres have been influenced by Afro culture (Hip Hop, R&B, Rock and so on). But as the Nwigwe couple explained, it is not normal that their culture, whether it is clothing, music or even in general, is appreciated throughout the world while the people who build and develop it struggle to defend their rights in our society and are frequently discriminated.
3) The Importance of Family in Africa : Love & Loyalty (Believe)
DBN Gogo is a DJ, musician and producer born in Durban, South Africa.
This 6 minute track with traditional African instrumentation is sung entirely in Zulu, the most spoken language in South Africa.
The track matches with Amapiano, a music genre that emerged in South Africa in 2012. It is a mix of deep house, jazz and lounge music characterized by synths, airy layers, broad percussive bass lines, gospel inspired keyboards and traditional percussion.
For the lyrics, DBN Gogo and the other artists speak of family love, of pride and of the history that belongs to it.
Zulu translated in English :
« You won’t see me turn my back Let my story be mine I protect my family I too have to improve mine»
« I believe, I believe in love and loyalty »
« Let’s stay together, They won’t see us apart hey »
In her lyrics she talks about loyalty and mutual support, to move forward in life and protect our families.
Family is very important in African culture, it includes not only the nuclear family (mother, father, children) but also members of their extended family (grandparents, uncles, cousins, and others).
“I miss the family, the extended
family, because our culture is very
much interwoven with the extended
– Nigerian immigrant (sources)
As this Nigerian immigrant living in the United States says, in most African societies the family refers to a much larger, extended group of people with whom strong ties have been forged.
4) New musical genre from South Africa: the discovery of Amapiano
The same team released another amapiano sound “Jele” which means prison in Zulu, the lyrics are also all in this language.
The lyrics seem to talk about the segregation that took place in South Africa but we can’t be sure because the artists didn’t express themselves on it.
To know more about amapiano, here is a documentary about the new wave of this South African genre which is spreading more and more worldwide.
5) The Flame of Youth Ambition : Wake up
The 25-year-old singer Bloody Civilian (a name that refers to the term used by the Nigerian army to describe civilians) is accompanied by the rapper Rema to unveil this track.
At the beginning, we follow an individual who would like to work in his passion, he has a lot of ambitions and motivation but for now he does not stand out.
“I wanted to write a song that describes how, when I wake up, I fight with getting up from bed, but then find the strength to go about the day.”Bloody Civilian about Wake Up for Vogue (sources)
“Tell aunty now that when I get the bag we go to South Africa”
For the moment he does not have the money to pay for the trip but he is confident and plans to succeed.
« No go i tell my people if i make music e gas to pay me Dey my own side dey laugh »
This sentence criticizes the mockery of certain passions, certain ambitions that for many people would not bring in enough money to make a living.
The word “dey cap” keeps coming up in the sound, it’s a Nigerian slang that means bullshit (source 10 Nigerian slang to understand), that the person is speaking nonsense, talking in the thing that doesn’t have good example.
« I talk say na me be the future People dey look like say i dey cap Oya tell me the people for this generation wey dey busy cap »
Bloody Civilian and Rema denounce that they are not taken seriously, that the possibility of living from their passions is seen as a joke by the older ones. Who qualify their statements as nonsense because for them it is almost unimaginable to succeed in this very competitive field where 90% of ALL artists fail.
During the whole song they try to carry their voices, to show that they can do it but nobody believes them.
« Now I keep it lowkey, but you see me rollin »
After all the effort they put in, they finally succeed and all the people who criticized them see them achieve what they dreamed of. It’s a reminder that once you wake up, you should never stop fighting for what you love despite the criticism you may hear.
6) Trap culture with OG Davy et Future
OG DAYV and Future rap about money and drugs. They address survival mentalities that arise from our society, which envy the beauties of this world and seek glory in money.
Future is a rapper known for making trap music; trap music has an aesthetic that is very much centered around drugs and money, and trappers don’t consider themselves “rappers. They are dealers who proudly record their past. In the texts or in the sounds they continuously represent the place where the drug is transformed into money: the trap house, sometimes called “bando” for “abandoned house” we find it for example in the decorations of the records of OutKast or in thug motivation 101 of Young Jeezy. (sources)
7) Black Mexicans : Heritage of the Pan-African culture.
Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all Indigenous and diaspora peoples of African ancestry. Based on a common goal dating back to the Atlantic slave trade, the movement extends beyond continental Africans with a substantial support base among the African diaspora in the Americas and Europe.
As flags symbolize the union of governance, people, and territory, this flag was created to give Black people in America and the world over a symbol that unifies the Diaspora. (sources)
With the first album and the first movie we discovered this Wakanda and the life that reigned there. The second album reflects a traditional African culture but also its continuity with the Afro-descendant culture and it is not by chance that Latino songs appear in this album. Although they are also there to highlight the indigenous and Mexican culture of the characters in the film.
In fact, African culture has greatly influenced Latin American countries. Between the 16th and 17th century it is estimated that about 12 million Africans arrived involuntarily in Latin America as slaves. The most direct route from West Africa to the “New World” was the route to Brazil.
Today it is considered that 33% of the Latin American population has African origins.
They have therefore brought a strong influence on music, dance, art, culture and life in general during all these centuries.
African culture has blended with the local culture. They have abandoned some aspects of their culture, modified others and created new forms. This African adaptation to local American conditions is called creolization. (sources).
For years these two cultures have been interacting. From these interactions many styles of music have emerged such as reggae in Jamaica, samba in Brazil or cumbia in Colombia.
We understand better now why latino songs appear in this album, they correspond to the latino, indigenous and mexican culture of the characters present in the film but also to a continuity and a certain descendance of the people and the culture of “Wakanda”.
8) Confronting prejudices damaging the image of a country : Pantera and Árboles Bajo El Mar
Aleman is a Mexican rapper, he is accompanied here by the Nigerian singer Rema.
Translation from Spanish to English :
“Oh, many people judge me as evil Oh, just because I am from Mexico Oh, they don’t know that my town is magical”.
Aleman talks about racism and prejudice that Mexicans suffer due to the image of their country which has suffered the drug war etc. …
Mexico is indeed a country where the criminal rate is quite high, a lot of news that speak about Mexico addresses the murders or the drug, inevitably that gives a bad reputation and that intensifies the prejudices and the racism that the Mexicans undergo.
Aleman wants to break this view of his country, focusing also on its beauty and magic.
To show that Aleman’s words are real and really qualify the image problem around Mexico, we went to the Quora forum which asked the question: What’s your opinion on how the world views Mexico? (sources)
Here is the answer from an Italian:
Here, even if he qualifies Mexico as “developing” the vision of this Italian on the country is however rather bad “very hot, very poor” “miserable living conditions” this person does not live there and thus receives an image mainly transmitted by the media. Which is representative of a part of reality but which cannot qualify Mexico as a whole.
Now here is the answer from a Mexican:
The Mexican recognizes that his country is famous for the crimes that reign there but he also addresses the image of Mexico by the kindness of its people, the beauty of the landscape and its fantastic culture. “In the end, people choose what to look about a place: the bad things or the good ones”.
Alberto agrees with Aleman’s idea that his country is more beautiful than we think and that we should not focus all the time on the bad things. That the beauty of the landscapes and the magic of Mexico were there before all things.
Árboles Bajo El Mar :
Árboles Bajo El Mar means tree under the sea.
Mexican singer Vivir Quintana and poet Mare Advertencia Lirika address a message similar to Aleman’s.
“I watered flowers without thorns, They were born in the Yucatan”translated from Spanish
Yucatán is a state in Mexico that is known for its beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and for its Mayan ruins.
“So many wounds that fester from so many violent acts, But the heart does not give up, it continues to believe”
They address the hope and struggle of the people facing all the violent acts that take place in their country.
The title “Tree under the sea” reminds us of the many fabulous and beautiful acts that have been planted little by little by the inhabitants of Mexico but that are not seen, covered by this sea characterized by the crimes that have been taking place for several years.
It is a message of suffering but also of hope from the Mexican people who are proud of their country, its beauty and its culture but who fight day and night this criminal climate of Mexico hoping one day that it disappears for good.
10) Pride and cultural transmission of Mexicans : La vida
Snow Tha Product is an American rapper and singer with Mexican origins and E-40 is an American rapper.
“Here we enjoy life, I’m going to stay here aroma of wet earth, vibrate with sincerity because under the sun I see that everything will be fine”
“I teach them what my parents told me They already learned from my great, great grandfather This land is not for sale, I die for it”
In this song Snow tha Product is proud to live in Mexico and to have cultural traditions that are passed on from generation to generation to preserve their country, their customs and their history. It truly transcribes the pride of a nation.
11) Highlighting rap and Mayan culture : Laayli’ kuxa’ano’one
Adn Maya Colectivo is a musical collective that promotes contemporary Mayan culture and music to give it visibility.
It was created by Pat Boy, promoter of Mayan rap, and Tania Jiménez Balam, young people from the central Mayan zone of the state of Quintana Roo. They combine the Mayan culture with different genres and musical expressions and offer unique and innovative pieces.
This song is entirely sung in Mayan. The Mayan languages are a family of Amerindian languages spoken by approximately 5 million people, mainly in the geographical area of the Mayan civilization that extends from Mexico to Honduras.
Quiché is the most widely spoken of these languages with more than 2 million speakers in Guatemala, followed by Yucatecan Maya on the Yucatán peninsula, which we have already mentioned, and Mam, Cakchiquel and Q’eqchi’. They all come from a mother tongue called Proto-Maya which is estimated to be 4,000 years old.
“Being part of the Black Panther soundtrack is not only the fruit of years of effort, breaking the stone and forming a collective with Mayan talent from all over the peninsula, it is also putting their language and culture in the heads and mouths of the world. Because yes, your song will surely be sung all over the world.”Pat Boy about Laayli’ Kuxa’ano’one’ (sources)
Thanks to this song as Pat Boy says, thousands or even millions of listeners will be able to discover and listen to the Mayan cultural richness which is not often represented musically. And to make proud the people related to this culture which will be able to be represented on such a project of scale that is Black Panther.
12) Nature, the metaphor of love : Con La Brisa
Foudeqush is a Mexican singer, she is accompanied by the Swedish producer Ludwig Göransson.
“In the clouds with you, I will lay down”
“And we snuck in with the breeze, and we sail with the wind“
“I will give my whole life to get you out of the dark”
Con La Brisa talks about loving a broken person and compares it with all the beauties that our nature offers us.
13) The despair that follows a breakup : Inframundo
Blue rojo is a Mexican singer.
It is a song about a breakup. He tells a woman who left him that she no longer exists for him. The terms influence in crescendo throughout the song.
“You no longer exist for me”
“You’re gone, you’re gone, you’re dead to me”translated from spanish
14) Defend your heritage and your land : No Digas Mi Nombre (Don’t say my name)
The group Calle x Vida is accompanied here by Foudeqush who we have already seen previously.
No Digas Mi Nomvre is a corrido (a ballad in a traditional Mexican style, typically having lyrics that narrate a historical event.)
“Defend my Land” is a message that relates to the film and to the real life, of Mexicans who want to defend their heritage and their land.
15) Preserving the land that was given to us : Mi Pueblo
Chan Lupita is from the municipality of Sotuta, in the Yucutan, Mexico, she recites a poem entirely in Mayan
“I defend my land, not just anyone enters my neighborhood Of course I take care of the land, because that is what we were born to do”
Mi Pueblo (my village) invites us into a discussion by the sea where a woman tells us how she cares for her land and is grateful for it.
16) Keeping the faith and fighting serious illness : Alone
With percussions, guitar and traditional instruments, the Nigerian singer Burna Boy sings mainly in English but also in Zulu.
Several points make us think that “Alone” is about people suffering from serious diseases, so this message would rally the tribute to the actor. It is a song full of emotions that can easily cause chills.
« I’m weak, I’m blind give me the strength I need for my body »
« No require visa; I have been very quietly dying and I need you to remind me why, give me the strength to keep fighting »
In these two sentences Burna Boy alludes to the physical condition of the patients and their prayer to continue to fight these too often fatal diseases.
« My body don dey tire, eh e make me madder, eh my head don scatter, eh my holy father, eh »
In a way this sound is a psychological help, a comfort, an invitation to faith, to allow the patients to continue their fight and to keep hope.
17) Living after the death of a loved one : Interlude and Coming Back For You
British rapper Stormzy raps over a sad instrumental composed of violins and light percussion. It’s a song about the loss of a family member, a parent.
It deals with the point of view of a person lost without his loved one and who must continue his life without him. To continue his legacy while doing as well as he did. Left to his own devices, the person has to continue the work and the legacy left to him without his loved one and his mentor, a bit like the people of Wakanda after the death of their king.
« You’re not here and it kills me, I’m not numb to the pain »
« As long as I’m alive I’ll be carrying your name »
He talks about death and mourning but also about the struggle to accept it and the future that one must face without the loved one. It is a rather sad song that brings less hope and light than the others.
Coming Back for you by Fireboy DML :
Nigerian singer Fireboy DML takes the point of view of a deceased person who speaks to his loved one still alive on earth.
« When the tears fall like shooting stars, Remember who you are, Just look up to the sky you’ll see, I’m coming back for you »
Contrary to Stormzy’s interlude, here the sound takes the point of view of a deceased person who watches over and comforts his loved one.
It’s less sad, more comforting, and there is always this link to death that comes back regularly in many songs
19) Loyalty of the people of Wakanda to their homeland : Born Again
One week after the release of the album Rihanna offers another single “Born Again”, an emotional ballad.
“I’d give my heart to this place I’d give my whole soul and whatever it takes, never run away,
And I’d relive this just to see your face again I know that you’d do the same, born again.”
She expresses her attachment to a place, to a country. Probably to qualify the loyalty of the people of Wakanda to their land and their king even now that he is no longer there.
20) Traditional Igbo instruments : Anya Mmiri
Nigerian singer Ckay and British singer PinkPantheress deliver a spiritual song “Anya Mmiri” (tears in Igbo)
They mix traditional Igbo melodies with a flute called “Oja” (sound of the spirits) and percussion called “Igba”. The Oja is used in traditional Igbo ceremonies whenever there is an air of solemnity such as in the last funerals.
The lyrics also speak about a loved one we have lost.
This life an illusion
You’re with me right now, next thing, you’re gone”
It is a very beautiful tribute that the two singers offer us, not only by the instrumentation that echoes a moment of respect but also by the lyrics that address the confusion of losing a loved one.
Conclusion: An echo to both the movie and real life.
“If we used a song in the film, we wanted it to be the whole song and tie into the story. Thematically, we wanted to take the audience from mourning to celebration. When you listen to the soundtrack, you can close your eyes and relive the experience of the film. That was the intention.”Explains Ludwig Göransson
The second album has chosen to include world famous artists like Rihanna, Burna Boy and Stormzy but also lesser known artists who represent their culturelike Adn Maya Colectivo or Calle x Vida.
Whether they are known artists or lesser known, most of the songs present traditional sounds as with the Oja in Anya Mmiri. This is a difference compared to the first album, which was certainly focused on meaningful lyrics, but in which there were not so many small artists and songs entirely sung in Zulu for example.
In 19 tracks, the 2nd album managed to address the tribute to the actor while talking about other topics such as social struggle, cultural continuity and pride of a people (Latino songs) and by integrating African styles and languages such as Zulu or Amapiano. With these subjects it is an album that perfectly echoes both the movie and real life, one could even imagine the characters singing these songs, after having seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
A successful bet for Ludwig Göransson.