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Read This Before You See “Black Panther”

in film
Black Panther Review

You’ve seen the buzz on Twitter and all the gorgeous photos from the royal-themed red carpet premiere. You’ve watched the trailer on repeat. None of that means anything without understanding its cultural and historical significance. You don’t have to be an avid Marvel fan to follow the “Black Panther” storyline. However, to fully enjoy the movie going experience it would be wise to educate yourself on the history of T’Challa, King of Wakanda, and his legacy.

From the basics of the groundbreaking comic book to the movies’ creators, here’s a starter kit to what you need to know before you see “Black Panther.”

THE HISTORY OF WAKANDA

It all started when Marvel creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby implemented the first-ever black superhero in a mainstream comic book. Black Panther first appeared in the 52nd issue of the Fantastic Four in July of 1966. Kirby later gave Black Panther his own series in 1977. Sadly, it only lasted 12 issues after Kirby grew tired of focusing on the same character and wanted to branch out.

Although Black Panther was a much-needed character during the Civil Rights movement, the myth of his character being named after the renowned Black Panther Party is just that — a myth. Think of it like a beautiful coincidence.

The main elements from the Black Panther comic series you need to be aware of are as follows:

1. He rules over the most advanced country in the world.
2. The source of his power.
3. He kicks total ass.

Another great victory from the Black Panther comic series is that he defeated the KKK. #HappyBlackHistoryMonth

Based on the setup in the comic series, before man walked on earth a meteor fell from the sky and created a mountain of ore. This ore was the element Vibranium, which is used throughout the Marvel universe. For example, it’s what Captain America’s shield is made from. Vibranium is also what the Black Panther’s suit is made out of causing bullets to not ricochet, but fall when coming in contact with the material.

The ancient people of Wakanda founded the cult of the Black Panther in efforts to shield their mountain from outside travelers who attempted to pillage and steal their main resource. The leader of the cult obtained the powers of the Black Panther by eating a heart-shaped herb that had been mutated by the vibranium meteor. This ceremonial herb gave the chief of the Panther clan enhanced strength, endurance and reflexes.

The herb can only be digested by Wakanda royalty and acts as a poison for anyone who does not belong to the royal blood line. This went on for the next 10,000 years, as the protecter of the Wakanda nation would hold the title of Black Panther and defend their people as King.

T’Challa, the main character of Marvel’s movie, is the son of previous Black Panther T’Chaka. The title of Black Panther is handed down by generation, and children are trained at a young age in preparation to take on the crown. Once a year, anyone in the nation of Wakanda is allowed to challenge the current Black Panther for their title.

The Black Panther is well known for beating up bad guys who are immensely stronger and bigger than he is. In that regard, he is a bit like Marvel’s Batman, except $90 trillion richer in net worth.

When it comes to on-screen time, Black Panther’s only appearance was in Marvel’s “Civil War” movie. The major takeaway, other than the clear evidence as to why Black Panther is one of the top superheroes in the Marvel Universe, is where his story begins as the successor of his father’s legacy.

With the “Black Panther” movie, one of the best attributes is what lies beneath the surface of the project: the all-black crew behind the scenes, and the fact that this movie was made for black people by black people. It’s no secret the real stars of this film are the masterminds who created it.

THE MASTERMINDS BEHIND “BLACK PANTHER”

 Ryan Coogler is the mastermind director of “Black Panther,” and has created visionary African American-centered movies like “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.” Most likely, “Black Panther” will focus on introspective themes of self discovery, if it follows the pattern of his body of work. It’s young directors like Coogler who are paving the way for proper African American representation in media. In a time where racism is rampant, shining a positive light on African and Black culture is more important than ever.

Ruth E. Carter is the mastermind costume designer. Her credits include groundbreaking films like “Malcolm X,” “Selma,” “Marshall” and “What’s Love Got to Do It.” She took inspiration from many ancient African tribes, as well as Afropunk culture.

Camille Friend is the mastermind behind the hair design. You may be familiar with her work already, as she has worked on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Detroit” and “Captain America: Civil War,” among many others. Inspiration came from many places, like the images of tribal cultures compiled in Before They Pass Away by the photographer Jimmy Nelson, as well as the collection of Black hairstyles shot by the Nigerian photographer J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. Friend employed a crew of 25 hairstylists along with a rotating team of braiders from Atlanta, where much of the movie was filmed.

And last, but certainly not least, Kendrick Lamar is the mastermind behind the music and arrangement of the official “Black Panther” soundtrack. Now, if you thought you were really about to go see this phenomenal piece of impeccable craftsmanship without listening to the entire album first, then you need to reevaluate your life right about now. Go on, I’ll wait…

I don’t care if you were holding out until the movie to be introduced to Kendrick’s best work to date, you should know while you’re swaying in your seat obliviously, every movie-goer around you will be singing along, hopefully, at the top of their lungs if they are truly educated.

None of the songs give anything away about the plot line of the movie — if anything, it builds anticipation like the steady climb to the top of a roller coaster. Every aspect of this star-studded piece of art Kendrick created, from the drums to the pacing to the socially-just lyrics, is musically flawless.

To highlight a few tracks from the project, I want to mention “Big Shot” and “I Am” as favorites. “Big Shot” has an eccentric switch up to Kendrick’s flow with the surprising-yet-perfect support of the flute.

“I Am” is one of the slower, more romantic songs on the soundtrack, and the intro is so moving. Each beat drop followed by Jorja Smith’s angelic vocal chords give that euphoric feeling of an eternal fall through the sky. Relax, take a deep breath, and let your body sink into her groove.

Just promise me you won’t even think about watching “Black Panther” if you have not at least indulged yourself in one of the deeply cultural aspects that created an instant classic.

Wakanda Forever Raised Fist: Medium-Dark Skin Tone on Apple iOS 10.0

Medley’s Monthly Mixtape: December

in music

December is the month where all major holidays are put in the spotlight to shine, and show their stuff. This year feel free to relax with a seasonal hot drink by the fire and play this playlist of new music. Let your mind relax and open up to new sounds. As they surround you, feel free to explore each artist deeper. Who knows? You may find your future anthem or next idol.

Lord Knows – BRIDGE

     The first song, “Lord Knows”, by BRIDGE is narrating a tale of self-help. The artist knows that he has not been doing right by himself, and if anyone can a test to his downfall it is the lord himself.

     “Lord knows I’ve sinned, I’ll do right again. Lord knows I’ve sinned, I’ll be back again.” -BRIDGE

     The key instruments that give BRIDGE that nice kick to his sound is the piano, the electric guitar, and his powerhouse vocals. The perimeter of this track is measured by BRIDGE’s remorseful tone. Yet somehow, when he sings to me, I cannot help but believe him.
     This track fits nicely with the theme of new beginnings, as the New Year rolls around behind the 31st of this month. Mistakes have been made, but the new year brings in new opportunities for the illusion of a clean slate.

 

No Limitations – Tidus

For all of my Hip Hop/R&B fans out there to follow BRIDGE’s soul, Tidus brings the mockup_tidus_z2thunder (or soft clap) towards this mixtape. His vibe in “No Limitations” matches all the amazing aspects of mumble rap at a slower and sonically clearer speed. It may not be so clear as to what the concept in his lyrics are,  but the construction of his beat is crystal clear.

This song goes under the ‘feeling yourself’ category. “No Limitations” is a great confidence booster. This song works on all self-praising fronts.

Oceans – leuan

Another song that incorporates R&B/Soul made the mixtape…big shocker! This track, however, deals with allowing others to influence your own path. “Oceans” by leuan is a warning beam to not let individuals throw you off your groove.

“You’re watching me bleed, you’re dragging me down. In the middle of the ocean, you’re watching me drown.” -leaun

“Oceans.” has a touch of pop to it. This is a record that I can undeniably imagine playing in my car radio.

New York – St. Vincent

St. Vincent is a very beautiful, vocally and physically, alternative artist from Tulsa, OK. Her music was listed under top new albums when released on October 13.  St. Vincent’s  album “MASSEDUCATION” has an abundance variety when it comes to sound. So for anyone who is genuinely looking for new music, and a powerhouse vocalist to indulge your ears in, St. Vincent allows you to kill two birds with one stone.

st-vincent-new-single-new-york-mp3-stream-listen-download     “New York” as it’s own song, is a bit sad in tone. Perfect for the lonely or lost souls who are forced to spend their holidays alone. There is a bittersweet beauty that comes with loathing in music that matches your mood, a type of collateral beauty.

“I have lost a hero, I have lost a friend. But for you darling, I’d do it all again.” -St. Vincent

There is some graphic language thrown across her lyrics here and there. Therefore I would not suggest it for listeners under the age of maturity (whatever that may be). I do strongly suggest “New York” for sensitive souls and easy criers who have to cuddle up to the fire alone this year. Allow your tears to soak in your blanket as this plays on your overhead speaker.

Justwanna – Jackson Lundy

avatars-000366434279-eq9mjy-t500x500     This R&B/Soul song has a bit of electronic mixed in it, and it is all brought together by a groove best described by whomever is enjoying Jackson Lundy‘s vibe at that time.

“Justwanna” is a short bop that gets it’s fans in the mood to do whatever the heck they can, just because they can. Lundy has become the puppet to a young girl who has him under her spell.

Feel free to lay your seat back as you cruise down the highway to Lundy’s new song which just released in NYC not too long ago.

Hoity Toity – Alex Mali

     Alex Mali is a new Rasta artist who just likes to have fun and it shines through her music. “Hoity Toity” is an encouraging bop to push free flowing people to “back it up” and dance. You do not have to be Caribbean to enjoy this tune, it is for everybody.

The music video speaks for itself. Mali channels her inner Rhianna, but adds her own, unique personality within it. Her bright green hair is a great testimony to her individual identity, and her smile ropes you in.

Window – Joji

From the cover of the album to the vibe in Joji’s tone, this song is the sonic and verbal definition of cold for December. “Window” is the track you begin to play as you look out the window and watch snowfall, or imagine it for our warmer residents.

8d66d740ddcd26b55b23777cb433132f-1000x1000x1     Playing at the short length of 2:30, Joji’s low chords aer enough to lull any stress, and ease all worries.

“Watching all the leaves grow, feels better in my dreams though. And the sun will shine no more, let it go. I’ve been holding on too long. I know when the wind blows, feels better in my dreams though.” -Joji

 

 

 

 

 

Main Image Credit: Polite Society Magazine

Medley’s Monthly Mixtape: July

in music
Terror Jr.

     Welcome to the domain where underground art rises from the ashes for a brief moment like a phoenix, only to land in that pretty little device of yours to get played on repeat. Each month it shall be my pleasure to fulfill your soul with new music that deserves mass appreciation.

     There is something for everybody on this list, so if you feel like you’ve yet to find your match, keep scrolling and it should appear. The overall theme , as monthly stereotypes would suggest, for July is summertime madness. Therefore, let’s get started with a nice beach sunset over the water, which is the physical embodiment of the first track.

Out Like a Light – Ricky Montgomery & The Honeysticks

    Ricky and the gang stand as one of the best upcoming alternative soft rock artists of early 2017. The harmonies at the beginning of this song that touch over the silky smooth grooves are only a small fraction of what makes this song easy to listen to.

    My favorite feature about this song that differs from Montgomery’s other great soft rock vibes, is how soft it is. If you are a listener that appreciates glassy, alternative music, then this is the track for you.

    One word to define this song would be ‘escalation’ because of how steady and elegantly Montgomery brings the listener on this trippy rollercoaster ride to paradise.

Walls Could Talk – Halsey

Halsey is obviously not the most underground of all artists, but this song unfortunately is. Walls Could Talk is one minute and forty two seconds shy of becoming a hit single, and the only issue is that it was too short for the radio waves.

This song is subjectively the best track on the album due to its chord progression, back track melody on the synths that intertwine with Halsey’s killer vocals, and the fact that the choir backing her are my idea of what walls would actually sound like if they “could talk”.

Halsey’s album, “hopeless fountain kingdom”, as a unit, graced the new Americana with it’s alternative sound. There is something on there for everyone who cares about pop music on a large scale.

Complicated – MIKExAngel

This new song summed up in three words: classic R&B vibes. This artist has worked closely with Trey Songz in the past and it shows. The random “Oh, no no’s” in between melodic runs plays into the classic good ‘ol R&B schtick.

This made the list because everybody needs a small dose of R&B in their lives every now and then, and this gentleman respects the genre. He does it’s justice while adding new age flavor.

We Find Love – Daniel Caesar

   Caesar takes his fans to church with this soulful tune. Just like Out Like a Light, this song is very soft with a choir to back the R&B singer. However, this song has no ties to religion whatsoever, solely love.

     We Find Love is a step onto the beach, and it’s physical embodiment would be walking on the water or that warm tingly feeling when the sun absorbs into your skin.

    Caesar is well known for his alternative R&B piano based sound. With this song in particular, there is a melancholy, universal message behind it. The mantra that repeats throughout goes, “We find love, We get up. Then we fall down. We give up.”

    For any fans of good ol’ R&B or soul or gospel, then this song is for you. A new age classic that touches a sad reality of finding love in relationships.

Death Wish – Terror Jr

This semi-party track is composed by a pop-electro group whose debut albums are fittingly titled “Bop City” and “Bop City 2: TerroRising”. Most of their music sounds like a robot consumed an angel and made art in the midst.

     Death Wish  shines out amongst the rest of “Bop City” due to the catchiness of its groove. Usually when DJ’s layer obscure, off beats over each other from different tastes, it goes one of two ways. In Terror Jr’s favor, it went insanely well.

Their lead singer’s sensual whisper of a melody contrasts nicely with the shocking lyrics and definitive message, “You can be my Juliet, but baby I can be your death wish.”

Like a Woman – Kacy Hill

When I first heard this song, I forced myself to give it a second chance, and I am glad I did. Upon first glance of the title, I was expecting an empowering feminist song to bless my ears, and instead I was pleasantly surprised at the complete opposite angle Hill took.

Hill started off as a background dancer on the Yeezus tour with Kanye West. Through a mutual friend, her music got into the hands of Kanye West himself, who became her close musical mentor. She then became one of two females to sign with the predominantly male hip hop label in 2016.

     Like a Woman is a soft, alt-pop song about femininity that is gained after certain sexual entities cause Hill to “feel like a woman”. It’s edgy.

Once Hill added snaps, a piano, and only a touch of synth, I was hooked. Its a pure track with powerhouse vocals. The simplicity of it is what makes it great.

Main Image Credit:Terror Jr
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