“Pray For Me” heralds “Black Panther”

New from the soundtrack from the upcoming blockbuster, “Black Panther,” comes “Pray For Me” by the dynamic pairing of Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd. Released on Feb. 1, the track features The Weeknd’s harmonious vocals that perfectly complement Lamar’s famed rap style.

“Pray For Me” begins with intense, distorted synth beats that lay the foundation for The Weeknd’s prophetic verse. As if preaching from the view of T’Challa (Black Panther), The Weeknd croons, “I’m always ready for a war again… / I’m always ready to take a life again / You know I’ll ride again.”

These sentiments reflect T’Challa’s dedication to his country, Wakanda, and how he will fight to protect his people and way of life–no matter the cost. In the chorus, The Weeknd ponders over T’Challa’s burden as the hero, asking “Who gon’ pray for me? / Take my pain for me? / Save my soul for me?.”

These lyrics seem to draw inspiration from Kendrick Lamar’s song, “FEEL.,” in which he cries out, “I feel like the whole world want me to pray for ‘em, but who the **** prayin’ for me?” Lamar acted as the curator for the “Black Panther” soundtrack, which makes this a fitting theme throughout all the tracks.

“Pray For Me” is notably placed as the last song of “Black Panther: The Album,” leaving listeners on a despondent yet determined note. In Lamar’s verse, he echoes the remarks made by The Weeknd in earlier parts of the song, begging, “I fight the world, I fight you, I fight myself / I fight God, just tell me how many burdens left.”

Lamar is likely referring to how the titular hero must protect Wakanda, as its population depends on him to save them.

As album curator, Lamar made a statement to “Complex,” saying, “The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I’m truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside [director Ryan Coogler] and Marvel’s vision.” I’ve always held Kendrick Lamar in such a high regard–especially after his latest album “DAMN.” and his Grammy sweep–so I had high expectations before listening to “Pray For Me.”

After hearing it for the first time, my expectations were definitely met. This song not only features futuristic and fast-paced beats, but it also carries a message that is very fitting for the film. As with any movie soundtrack, it must match the expectations set by the movie it accompanies, and with Marvel’s historic film already receiving such high praise, I was skeptical of how the album would turn out.

But, if “Pray For Me” is any indication of the caliber of the songs on “Black Panther: The Album,” I can’t wait to hear the rest when the soundtrack drops on Feb. 9.

Record: “Pray For me”
Artist: Kendrick Lamar feat. The Weeknd
Release: Feb. 1
Rating: 5/5