Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Soundtrack Might Surpass the Original

Anchored by Rihanna's soulful 'Life Me Up," Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music from and Inspired by does the seemingly impossible: It matches the original Black Panther movie's soundtrack.

Shuri in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Photo: Marvel

Wakanda Forever! After the tragic passing of star Chadwick Boseman forced Marvel Studios and director Ryan Coogler to rethink their approach for a sequel to 2018’s smash hit, Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters this weekend. The long-awaited sequel will double as both the latest entry in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and as a tribute to the late Boseman.

Box office projections estimate that the film is set to open to between $175 million and $185 million domestically, putting it slightly lower than the original film’s $202 million opening weekend haul, but making it the third-highest opening weekend since the pandemic, after fellow MCU entries Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which opened to $260 million and $187 million, respectively.

Part of the original Black Panther’s triumphant success was its massive, culturally relevant soundtrack. Curated by Kendrick Lamar, working with producer Sounwave and film composer Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther: The Album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200. Göransson won an Academy Award and Grammy for his score, with Lamar also netting gold with his own Grammy for “King’s Dead,” which featured Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake. The album received widespread critical acclaim, with even notoriously prickly critic Robert Christgau describing the work as “sneakily experimental pop-rap,” also crediting Lamar for “marking every [song] with a verse or chorus or hook defined by the least regal of the great rap flows, unassumingly slurred while making every word count.”

While many continue to await details on Wakanda Forever’s story, and how the film would approach the passing of Boseman, fans have also been curious to see who may appear on the follow-up’s soundtrack, after high-profile appearances from Lamar, The Weeknd, SZA, and more graced the last outing. A captivating original soundtrack has become a bit rare to come by in recent years, especially one so cutting edge, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s soundtrack builds off of its predecessor, showcasing household-name artists and Afro-futurist sounds. 

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Göransson returns as a producer, mining Nigerian and Mayan musical traditions to represent Wakanda and Talokan, the latter of which is a kingdom that features heavily in the new film. The biggest name on the album, however, is undoubtedly Rihanna, who contributes with the soaring ballad “Lift Me Up,” the artist’s first slice of new music since 2020. It perfectly sets the stage for the film’s story regarding grief, legacy, and resilience.

The rest of the soundtrack features appearances from UK grime superstar Stormzy, Mexican pop singer Foudeqush, Nigerian crooner CKay, a returning Future, and many more. All 19 tracks are invigorating pieces of music that stand alone from the film, but also hit perfectly when given the added context of Coogler’s powerful movie. From tracks meant to pack the dancefloor, traditional Mexican numbers, slow-burning mood pieces, and even an African house music offshoot amapiano track “Jele,” Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music from and Inspired by truly has something for everyone.

Listen to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music from and Inspired by on Spotify below and be sure to see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in theaters now.