For the musical companion to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, readmission to Marvel’s African kingdom comes with the same magical elements of wonder and revelation found the first time around. This is perhaps in part down to the return of Ludwig Göransson—who composed the score for Wakanda Forever and its 2018 predecessor—who co-helms (alongside Archie Davis, Dave Jordan, and director Ryan Coogler) this new, brilliantly diverse run of original tracks. “For this movie and soundtrack especially, Ryan and I wanted to create a soundworld that’s incredibly immersive, where you can’t tell the difference from song and score,” Ludwig Göransson tells Apple Music. “So the only way to achieve that was for me to do both at the same time. So while I was recording musicians in the daytime in Mexico for the score, at night I was using those score elements and those recordings done earlier in the day, booking sessions in Mexico with contemporary artists, rappers, and singers.”
A touching rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” from Nigerian singer Tems was the world’s first taste of the movie’s music, via a trailer at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, and helped prep us for the mournful tone of the sequel. Just as the world stopped to grieve the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, so do the five tribes of Wakanda mark the death of the eponymous superhero. Marking this occasion with solo music for the first time in six years, Rihanna sings the Tems-penned elegy “Lift Me Up.” “As soon as I read the script and started thinking about artists to work with, she was probably the first name on the list,” Göransson says. “Because this story is so much about powerful women and motherhood.”
Africa itself is also, of course, central to the soundtrack. Traditional flutes and drums combine for thrillingly fluid sections (Fireboy DML’s “Coming Back for You”), and the sweeping head rush of amapiano also appears on “Love & Loyalty” (by DBN Gogo, Sino Msolo, Kamo Mphela, Young Stunna, and Busiswa), recorded in Lagos, West Africa’s central music hub. Felt in the double-time rhymes of Rema and Alemán (“Pantera”) and an ethereal coming-together of newcomers CKay and PinkPantheress (“Anya Mmiri”) is the resilience of African and Mesoamerican cultures—glistening with tradition but thriving through bright reinvention.
“It was really tough [at first] because we had a sound with themes and instruments from the first movie that I couldn’t use again and all of those themes has so much meaning to it,” Göransson says. “So I think that was the most exciting part when we worked on this movie, was to create a completely unique, immersive sound experience where all the sound, all the music, all the songs, all the words, everything was written specifically. It’s Mayan, it’s Aztec, it’s synthesizers, it’s songs, it’s regional Mexican songs, it’s Afropop, it’s rap. It’s the whole plate!”