While the Black Panther film was clawing up the competition at the box office this past weekend, it’s Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack was climbing the musical charts like, well, a panther does a tree, finally settling up its first week as the king of the Billboard 200.
Per Billboard, the very un-traditional, groundbreaking soundtrack debuted at no. 1 with 154,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Feb. 15, with 52,000 in traditional album sales. That’s a strong first week for just about any album, but rarely do soundtracks hit the charts quite as hard as this. Having TDE all over it, performing alongside some of today’s biggest stars like 2 Chainz and Future and up-and-comers such as Jorja Smith and Mozzy, no doubt gave a heart-shaped herb-style boost to its numbers. As Billboard notes, hip-hop albums tend to perform well due to streaming.
Interestingly, only three songs of the fourteen on the album actually appear in the film, with the rest being “inspired by” or containing references to it. At a couple of points in the album, Kendrick says either “I am T’Challa” or “I am Killmonger,” highlighting the central conflict of the film. It is the first time in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Marvel Studios commissioned multiple original songs for one of its now 18 films.