Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Original Score)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Original Score)

When Ludwig Göransson signed on to compose the score for his longtime collaborator Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, the first thing he did was head off in search of the sounds of Wakanda, spending time with local musicians in Senegal and studying the instruments, rhythms, and nuances of local musical traditions. “Ever since I started working with Ryan, his stories and his characters that he is bringing to his stories are so vibrant,” Göransson tells Apple Music. “It's my job to make sure his storytelling is portrayed the same way in the music.” After his trip, he wove together an eclectic mix of African instruments—including the talking drum, the signature sound of Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa—into a score that also drew classical flourishes and a hip-hop edge into the mix, winning Göransson an Oscar and a Grammy along the way. For the sequel, he and the rest of the cast and crew were forced to recalibrate when Boseman died following complications of colon cancer. For Göransson, this meant handling the musical toolbox he’d thoughtfully curated with even more care. “The talking drum, for example, and all of those instruments and themes have so much meaning to them,” he explains. “With Chadwick's tragic passing, I was like, 'I don't know what I can use from the first movie, because everything has so much connection to him.' Whenever we use anything from the first movie, it's done with so much thought, because everything just needs to feel right.” At times, the somber strings and discordant progressions strike the tones of a requiem, and the stages of grief—denial, anger, acceptance, and more—are voiced through choirs, earth-shaking beats, and the diverse array of instruments Göransson has collected. As Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduces new characters, he had more to explore and incorporate into the score and soundtrack recorded on four continents with 40 different artists. The film’s antagonist, King Namor, is the leader of a subterranean kingdom that draws inspiration from Aztec manuscripts, which meant Göransson needed to refresh the musical world of Wakanda while building one for Namor’s Talokan. He went to Mexico and sought out scholars and musicians who were experts in Indigenous languages and musical traditions in Mexico City and Merida. T’Challa may have the talking drum, but Namor’s theme incorporated an ancient Mayan instrument. “I quickly realized that this music in this culture was forcibly erased,” he says. “I got connected with this incredible music archaeologist that's been studying and trying to recreate what the Mayan music sounded like. They see a codex where four people are playing turtle shells together and three people behind them playing horns, so we try to imagine what the sound was.” There’s an instrumental version of “Lift Me Up,” Rihanna’s single from the film’s soundtrack, that serves as the score’s transcontinental connector. “It has piano, which is from Western or European culture,” he says. “It has African guitar, the kora; a couple seconds later, there's Mexican guitars, Mexican harp, guitar, guitarrón. And then you have Rihanna singing it. It feels connected, like one thing.” Göransson’s research also took him back across the Atlantic to Lagos, Nigeria, where he and Coogler continued to expand the scope of West African music’s presence in the film. Göransson embraced traditional Nigerian instruments, amapiano, and Afrobeats while spending his days with the score’s musicians and his nights recording with Nigerian powerhouse Tems and other artists. “The only way to make the musical journey work in the story is also to go there,” he says. “I would never have these artists come to studios in LA and we're like, 'Oh, we want to do a song for this, that story,' and going to Lagos and putting ourselves in their environment and in their truth. And I think that was the key and what made this music so special and so true.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada