Black Music Month: Spotlight on film soundtracks

From “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - Music From and Inspired By” to “Metro Boomin Presents Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Soundtrack From and Inspired by the Motion Picture),” the past several years have produced some notable soundtracks spearheaded by Black creatives.

Rihanna performs "Lift me up" from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Filled with an influx of prominent releases, the 2020s has seen an uptick in successful film-soundtrack duo releases.

Each June, Black Music Month honors the undeniable and momentous contributions of Black people to music of all genres. Historically, Black creatives have been underrepresented when it comes to award shows and recognition, but their contributions to film music have been nothing short of incredible.

This past June, the sequel release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” caused an excited flurry of fans into the movie theaters, and the film has generated over $316 million in North America and $560 million globally in the box offices, according to Variety. The soundtrack, presented and produced by genius hip-hop producer Metro Boomin, has been well-received for its catchy and creative tunes.

“Across the Spider-Verse” is not the only Black creative driven success we’ve seen of late. Over the past several years, some of the most notable film scores and soundtracks have been released, and many of these projects have been spearheaded by Black music creatives and companies including Kendrick Lamar, Metro Boomin, Rihanna, Dreamville Records and more.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” 2022

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” an emotional and awe-inspiring follow-up and tribute to Black Panther starring the late Chadwick Boseman, features a robust array of songs from and inspired by the movie. Signature tracks like “Lift Me Up” by Rihanna and “No Woman No Cry” by Tems are easily identifiable for their contributions to the trailers and previews of the film. Other songs including “Con La Brisa” and “Inframundo” may be less recognizable, but their contributions to the film are undeniable.

Each track is perfectly placed within the context of the film, and the artists, coming from Roc Nation, Def Jam and Hollywood Records, all offer something unique and indispensable to the soundtrack. With Mesoamerican and African influences, this standout soundtrack features artists from South Africa like Bloody Civilian, Burna Boy from Nigeria, Blue Rojo from Mexico and Foudeqush from Northern Mexico.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” 2023

In 2018, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was released along with a compilation soundtrack released under Republic Records of Universal Music Group Recordings. The soundtrack featured iconic hit songs including “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee. The long-awaited follow-up, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”, sports one of the most beloved soundtracks of the year thus far. The soundtrack is inclusive of songs from the film, and some songs inspired by the film. Metro Boomin produced the soundtrack, offering a unique and cinematic flair to each track.

Two soundtracks, one original and one deluxe, came from this film, both produced predominantly by Metro Boomin. The soundtrack features artists including Swae Lee, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Uzi Vert, Wizkid, Coi Leray, Shenseea and more. Signature tracks include “Givin Up” by Don Toliver, 21 Savage, and 2 Chainz and “Home” by Metro Boomin, Don Toliver and Lil Uzi Vert.

Creed III” 2023

“Creed III,” the follow-up to the previous films, stars Michael B Jordan, Jonathan Majors and Tessa Thompson. The soundtrack comes from Dreamville, a record label under Interscope Records that is home to notable artists including J. Cole, EARTHGANG, Bas, Ari Lennox and J.I.D. J. Cole’s “Adonis Interlude (The Montage)” is one of the highlight tracks of this intense and inspiring playlist, and other noteworthy tracks include “Ma Boy” by Dreamville, J.I.D and Lute, as well as “Anthem” by Dreamville, Big Sean and EST Gee.

The Woman King” 2022

“The Woman King,” one of 2022′s most iconic films, pays homage to the Dahomey Amazons also known as the Agojie, an all-female military regiment in the Kingdom of Dahomey, which is now known as southern Benin, West Africa. The film’s score was composed and led by trumpeter Terence Blanchard, a jazz musician from New Orleans who has composed more than 40 film scores.

Aftershock” 2022

“Aftershock” is a documentary focused on childbirth and how it affects Black women in particular. The film is based around two preventable childbirth-related deaths that happened to two Black women. Their families galvanize activists, birth-workers and medical physicians to face the issue of the significantly high maternal mortality rates that face Black women in comparison to their white counterparts.

The documentary and its associated trailers feature a small but beautiful selection of tracks, including Sometimes by H.E.R, which was written and produced by Black creatives including H.E.R, D’Mile, Brittany “Chi” Coney and Denisia “Blu June” Andrews. Some notable songs include “Sad Day” by FKA Twigs, “Little Girl Blue” by Laura Mvula, “Breathe” by Seinabo Sey and “Gone Too Soon” by Alan “Buz” Kohan and Larry Grossman

The Little Mermaid” 2023

“The Little Mermaid” has been making waves recently, with spectacular reviews of the performances from actresses and actors including Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy and Jonah Hauer-King. Disney and Walt Disney Records produced the soundtrack featuring songs like “Part of Your World” by Halle, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” by Melissa McCarthy and “Kiss The Girl” by Alan Menken.

Judas and the Black Messiah 2021

In 2021, “Judas and The Black Messiah” was released, as was its accompanying soundtrack, Judas and The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album. The 2021 album, released under Six Course Music, Inc. and RCA Records, gave way to highly popular and esteemed tracks such as “What It Feels Like” by Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z and “Fight For You” by H.E.R.

Many of the past three years’ most prominent film scores and soundtracks have been pioneered by Black creatives and record companies, and Black Music Month is the perfect time to celebrate and honor these incredible works of art. From Metro Boomin Presents Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Soundtrack From and Inspired by the Motion Picture), to Dreamville’s Creed III: The Soundtrack, the past several years have been home to some of the most aesthetically and sonically pleasing creative projects of the film and music industries.