Meet the 9 Potential Breakout Artists on ‘Black Panther: The Album’

A who’s who of the lesser known names on the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack.
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When news broke that Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment were executive producing the Black Panther film soundtrack, fans across social media began to openly pray for a full-length Black Hippy album.

On Wednesday, following the somewhat lackluster “All The Stars,” and the jaw-dropping “King’s Dead," TDErevealed the album’s full tracklist. While not exactly a Black Hippy album—though all four members are present across the album's 14 tracks—the tracklist does prove to be a great tool for artist discovery.

In addition to hip-hop household names like 2 Chainz, Travis Scott and The Weeknd, the album predominately features South African and West Coast artists, elevating up-and-coming and much lesser-known talents to a larger stage. At the very least, the soundtrack serves as a crash course on the who’s who of South African hip-hop.

To help familiarize our readers with the artists who will be shaping the sound of Black Panther's album accompaniment past the obvious TDE stars, we've created a quick primer. 

Babes Wodumo (@BABESWODUMO)

Appears on: “Redemption”

A well-recognized singer from South Africa, Babes Wodumo first hit our radar when she was nominated for Best International Act at the BET Awards in 2017. Something of a media sensation in South Africa reminiscent of early Cardi B, Babes produces club hit after club hit without breaking a sweat. Her debut album, Gqom Queen Vol. 1, was released in November 2016 and we can only assume that following the international boost that Black Panther will provide, Babes will soon be gearing up to release a second record.

Recommendations: “Wololo,” “Mercedes,” “Family”

Jorja Smith (@JorjaSmith)

Appears on: “I Am”

You should really already be familiar with Jorja Smith, but in the event that you remain asleep, here we are. 

Hailing from the UK, Smith is a 20-year-old singer endowed with wisdom and a powerful voice. Her 2016 debut, Project 11, had her tapping into the universality of heartache, but without any of the usual bemoaning. Her latest single, “Let Me Down,” is as disarming from the first sung note as it is a sober look into her heart. With a declarative title like “I Am,” Smith will assuredly bring the same mountain-moving energy to the soundtrack. 

Read More: "How Jorja Smith Is Capturing the Universal Experience of Young Love & Heartbreak"

Recommendations: “Let Me Down,” “Something in The Way,” “Lonely”

Mozzy (@MozzyThaMotive)

Appears on: “Seasons”

Bringing it back to the U.S., specifically to the West Coast, Sacramento spitter Mozzy’s appearance on the soundtrack is even less of a surprise following the shout out he received from Kendrick Lamar at the GRAMMYs. He's prolific—he released 14 projects in 2016 alone—yet his raspy cadence and measured delivery make his music deceptively accessible. Once you fully tune into a Mozzy record, you’ll find yourself down a dark pit of tragedy, with Mozzy’s voice rapping towards the light. His most recent project, 1 Up Top Ahk, dropped on August 18, 2017, but his appearance on Black Panther: The Album will push him into his biggest spotlight to date.

Recommendations: “Sleep Walkin,” “Tomorrow Ain’t Promised,” “Afraid”

Reason (@iam_reason)

Appears on: “Seasons”

Del Amo, California MC Reason, not to be confused with the South African rapper of the same name, is fresh off the 2017 release of his second "mixtape," There You Have It, which is currently available across every major streaming service. For those impressed by his latest work, Reason has two additional projects available on the interwebs: 2016's The Free Album and 2017's Proof.

Recommendations: "Summer Up," "Kurupt," "Gold Digger"

Saudí (@saudi_rsa)

Appears on: “X”

A hip-hop artist from the Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa, Saudí takes the haze and syrupy quality of Future-esque trap songs and spikes them with his youthful energy. His biggest hit, “There She Go,” features a tight triplet flow and crooning delivery with the utmost conviction. Of note, his debut album, D.R.U.G.S Inc, was released at the end of 2017 and features Sjava, another artist found on Black Panther: The Album.

Recommendations: “There She Go,” “Drip,” “Dark Dindy" ft. Sjava & Emtee

Sjava (@Sjava_ATM)

Appears on: “Seasons”

An actor-turned-award-winning musician, Sjava is a South African singer signed to the same label—Ambitiouz Entertainment—as Saudí. Sjava’s debut album, Isina Muva, which was released in July 2016, might not be well-known Stateside, but it is currently RISA-certified Gold. He also has a golden voice. Sjava can belt a note to hit your gut, or lace high notes with a lighthearted delivery. His music radiates emotion, which explains his album winning Best Produced Album at both the Metro FM Music Awards and the South African Music Awards.   

Recommendations: “Uthando,” “Before,” “Inhliziyo”

SOB x RBE (@sobxrbe)

Appears on: “Paramedic!”

Comprised of Slimmy B, DaBoii, Lul G, and Yhung T.O., SOB x RBE is a hip-hop outfit standing tall at the intersection of uptempo energy and trap tropes. The four-piece is from and remains based in Vallejo, and as Slimmy B told The FADER: “You can’t really call us a group, because it’s more like a family.” Each member has a distinct personality and strength, filling out each track with punchy raps, infectious melodies, gripping aggression, and the ever-important wordplay.

Recommendations: “Anti,” “Different,” “Lane Changing”

Yugen Blakrok (@yugenblakrok)

Appears on: “Opps”

Also based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Yugen Blakrok is a self-described “Dot Connector. Microphone Checker.” From the cover art of her 2013 debut, Return of the Astro-Goth, we find Blakrok to have a penchant for the mystics of science fiction, and listening to the record reveals her to be a student of classic hip-hop, similar to Sa-Roc. Having toured with MC Lyte and received praise from Chuck D and Sage Francis, it’s no surprise that she was nominated for three South Africa Hip-Hop Awards in 2014: Best Lyricist, Best Newcomer, and Best Female.

Recommendations: “House of Ravens,” “DarkStar,” “LeftRightHand”

Zacari (@zacarip)

Appears on: “Redemption”

Chances are, Zacari had a hand in crafting one of your favorite TDE songs. Originally from Bakersfield, California, the singer-songwriter was first tapped by Kendrick Lamar following his work on Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade (“Wats Wrong”). With his wailing falsetto sounding more smitten on DAMN.’s “LOVE.," it’s easy to be impressed with the singer’s range. Prior to linking with TDE, Zacari had been steadily growing on SoundCloud, with his 2015's “Foggy Windows” among his most popular.

Read More: "Meet Zacari, the “Sleeper Feature” on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. You Need to Know"

Recommendations: “Foggy Windows,” “2 O' Clock in the Moanin,” “I Should Be Dreaming”

Correction: In a previous version of this article, we incorrectly identified Reason, mistaking him for the South African MC of the same name.

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