The lead single from Black Panther: The Album, this slow burner finds Kendrick Lamar hooking up with SZA. The soundtrack for the Marvel Studio movie was curated, written and produced by Kendrick with his label boss Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith.
The song opens with SZA's hook where she sings about the feeling that comes along with being closer to one's dreams. Kendrick Lamar then puts his own spin on the chorus, dismissing those who take advantage of his fame.
F--- you and all your expectations
I don't need and want all your congratulations
I recognize your false confidence
And calculated promises all in your conversations
Lamar sees through all the false people who just want to roll with him because he's a star.
Top Dawg labelmates Kendrick Lamar and SZA have collaborated several times before, starting with SZA's "Babylon" from 2014's Z. Other hookups between the pair include the songstress trading lines with Jay Rock on Lamar's "untitled 04 | 08.14.2014
" and a verse spat by the Compton MC on the songstress' CTRL
track "Doves in the Wind
Although this isn't the first time that a music artist has curated the soundtrack for a film or series, this does mark the first time that Marvel have integrated multiple original recordings created specifically for a film into one of their superhero movies. Director Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) reached out to Kendrick directly to get him involved in the project.
Directed by frequent Kendrick Lamar collaborator Dave Meyers and the little homies (a.k.a. K. Dot and TDE's Co-President Dave Free), the video opens with the rapper in a boat surfing atop an ocean of raised arms. Other scenes include SZA performing in a circle of African tribesmen wearing bright blue feathery costumes, and Lamar walking through a desolate landscape of barren trees populated by black panthers.
British-Liberian visual artist Lina Iris Viktor alleged that a 19-second segment of the video, which features Kendrick Lamar in a room full of geometric gold artwork and women, contains copyright violations because of similarities to her 24-karat gold-patterned artwork from a series of paintings called Constellations. According to The New York Times, Viktor's lawyer, Christopher Robinson, stated that representatives at Marvel approached Viktor twice to ask if Lamar could use artwork for his "All The Stars" video for the song, but she turned them down both times.
"Why would they do this?" she questioned during an interview with The New York Times. "It's an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it's about black empowerment, African excellence - that's the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they're stealing from African artists."
The case went to court with Viktor suing for damages as well as an injunction to stop her artwork being used to promote the soundtrack.