By Brian Brecker
Elm Staff Writer

Two tracks have dropped from the forthcoming Marvel film, “Black Panther,” incorporating the works of modern hip-hop and R&B.

For those worrying whether the Disney connection would lead to watered down content, you will be pleased with “King’s Dead,” a multi-artist brag rap track featuring Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake. The song starts with a short introduction verse from Lamar and includes echo effects layering over his vocals. Following is a verse by Jay Rock covering many well-trodden themes of success and money.

Depending on your perspective, the screechy interlude by Future may be one of the funniest or worst soundbites of the year. The song contains a mostly simple trap beat adaptable enough to accommodate each of the artists’ different styles.

The second half of the song contains much more interesting concepts about empowerment as Lamar goes off on a tirade about how he doesn’t belong to you or to society, or to anything as a statement of utter defiance and autonomy. Jay Rock, a rapper from Watts, Calif. shows off his talented flow and unique voice. The lyrics in all sections of this song veer into repetition which tends to suck the fun out of the palpable energy. Sounds aren’t given time to resonate, and the whole song comes off feeling more cluttered than it should.

“All the Stars” is more pop-centered, taking on a slower tempo, starting with wandering auto-tuned vocals of Lamar. Shades of influence from Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreaks are apparent in this opening segment. SZA delivers a fantastic performance showcasing why you should absolutely not sleep on her solo work.

Individualism is a recurring theme in both these tracks. Both songs showcase attitudes of disregard for those that would like to leech off of their power.

While “King’s Dead” left something to be desired and may have been better served by a more imaginative instrumental, I would certainly not begrudge anyone for enjoying it as a decently made brag-rap track. “All the Stars” ends up being one of the better and more understated pop songs I have heard in quite a while, focusing more on production and emotional depth than its contemporaries.

I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the release of both the film and the soundtrack as both a fan of hip hop and genre movies. I can say that the music to accompany the big budget extravaganza will likely match or perhaps even surpass the film in quality.

The Elm

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