Featuring appearances from SZA, ScHoolboy Q, the Weeknd, Future, Travis Scott, Swae Lee, Vince Staples, and more, the album isn't light on features. But apparently it could have been an even more star-studded affair. In an interview with Hits Daily Double, TDE producer Sounwave explains that Kendrick and the rest of TDE were on a tight deadline and remained committed to sticking with the film's themes, so some big collaborations didn't make the cut.
"We had to attack things differently from our usual album format because the story line was already created for us to follow, which allowed us to tap into elements we normally wouldn’t do," he says. "We were also on a very strict time limit, so all through the DAMN Tour, Kendrick and I would hop right offstage into the studio bus, creating different ideas from beats to hooks. We even ended up scrapping great songs with big-name features on them because we couldn’t clear things in time or they didn’t fit the overall concept, but it all worked out at the end."
Sounwave, who co-produced almost every song on the album, says he and Kendrick were very intentional about who they collaborated with and were partially inspired by listening to South African music during the process.
"There were a variety of reasons why each artist was picked," he explains. "From Kendrick, Top Dawg and I already being fans of the artist to finding the right person to match the emotion we were looking for, and also a lot of studying different kinds of music. We were listening to a massive South African playlist for months, straight to where we became big fans of the sound and culture. And that was an important part, because we wanted to go inside their world to get an organic sound, sonically and emotionally."
Sounwave says that Kendrick was "drawn in by the opening scene and the deep message this movie told from two different standpoints" and wanted to stay faithful to the film's plot. But, like most things Kendrick involves himself with, he wasn't afraid to dig a little deeper and touch on larger themes.
"There’s going to be a wider expression in anything and everything we touch," Sounwave says. "That’s one of the main reasons you have to keep listening."
Good idea. Follow Sounwave's advice and give Black Panther: The Album another listen below. Also read Pigeons & Planes' feature on 10 things we learned from the soundtrack.