Are you looking to cure your winter blues? Look no further.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, released on Dec. 14, has quickly escalated to one of the year’s best animated films in just its first box office week. In Sony and Marvel’s latest collaboration, Into the Spider-Verse OST leaves the hip-hop community with an exceptional blend of rap artists and moods, juxtaposing itself against Marvel’s Black Panther The Album, which was released a week before Black Panther this past February.
At 13 tracks and 41-minutes in length, Into the Spider-Verse OST features notable appearances from Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Vince Staples, Jaden Smith, Post Malone, Juice WRLD, Ski Mask The Slump god and XXXTENTACION, among others. Marvel is back after The Album’s incredible success, this time with another authentic recipe of rap and underlying themes pressed into a unique superhero cinematic experience.
Kendrick Lamar streamed The Album, putting his super-human musical capabilities on the world’s radar, and spear-heading the 14-track and 49-minute album as curator, producer and frequent feature across tracks.
Much like that of the actual cast in Black Panther, Kendrick amalgamated a rare and remarkable range of talents from around the globe, crossing continents, mixing genres, and altering perspectives. These included local friends from Los Angeles that have established their name in the rap genre (Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul), southern-rap and trap-influenced hit-makers (Future, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott), neo-soul trailblazers (The Weeknd, Anderson.Paak), and South African artists (Babes Wodumo, Saudi, Sjava and Yugen Blakrok).
Kendrick Lamar reigned king of The Album as he seemingly and omnisciently narrated the Pan-African soundtrack that is both applicable to the movie’s plot and the theme of reclaiming one’s heritage, specifically African diaspora and the effects of this in Marvel’s first black rendition of a pride-filled superhero account.
If Black Panther The Album’s theme is pan-African pride, then Into the Spider-Verse is flooded with the emotional toil of fulfilling human expectation, mixed with the supernatural ability to stand up and fight for what is right internally and externally.
Although there is no headliner artist across tracks like The Album, Into the Spider-Verse’s OST hits home in an unforgettable blend of up-and-coming artists paired next to tried-and-true veterans.
On “Scared of the Dark” the late XXXTENTACION, Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Wayne deliver an exclusive combination of rare talent. In the chorus, Ty Dolla $ign raps, “I’m not scared, not scared at all / Why would a star, a star ever be afraid of the dark?” What is incredible about this collaboration is how each artist’s take on being afraid of the dark is conveyed differently from the other, explicitly demonstrating how everyone’s fear of the dark is distinct in its own way.
Post Malone and Swae Lee’s collaboration in “Sunflower” provide nice R&B-like transitions, as Blackway and Black Caviar’s “What’s Up Danger” and Jaden Smith’s “Way Up” provide the listener with instant head-nodding beats accompanied by passionate lyricism. The scope of flavors conferred in each track is satisfying to say the least.
On “Familia,” Nicki Minaj joins forces with Bantu and Anuel AA, delivering an authentic Latin-trap experience. The song’s main theme is loyalty, and how those who are close to you are worth more than anything else. This is a theme that is innate to Spider-Man, especially with the death of Peter Parker’s uncle Ben, paying tribute to the original series fans know and love.
Rounding out the tracklist, Vince Staples’ “Home” will invariably hit home for most listeners, as Staples raps, “this morning I woke up in a fortress of distortion / I’m at war with my emotions.” Released right before Christmas, Staples culminates Into the Spider-Verse’s OST by relating to everyone who will return home for the holidays, while also relating to Spider-Man’s super-human feeling of nostalgia for being different in world where normal is comforting.
Entirely, Marvel’s Into Spider-Verse’s OST provides another stellar mix of hip-hop combinations that are uplifting, empowering, and powerful. The tracks come together unexpectedly and delightful at times, and confer the emotions and confrontations a teenage boy faces in understanding both himself and others in his supernatural abilities.
Although comparing it to Black Panther The Album doesn’t seem fair due to Kendrick Lamar’s genius that shines through across the tracks, Spider-Verse is sure to make your Spidey-senses tingle with its unique and ever-changing blend of modern rap.