With Rihanna confirmed to have created a song for Black Panther 2, Ryan Coogler revealed that there was a certain element that swayed the musician to join in.
Marvel’s next film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is poised to take the world by storm. The follow-up to the groundbreaking 2018 original sees the nation of Wakanda both grieving the loss of their king, and fending off an attack from the undersea Mutant, Namor.
As with the first film, Marvel Studios enlisted top musical talent to contribute to Wakanda Forever’s soundtrack. And none involved is more notable than Rihanna, who performs a song called “Lift Me Up,” which plays over the film’s end credits.
It’s been six years since Rihanna last released a single, having been on hiatus for some time. But Ryan Coogler spoke on how Marvel was able to bring her in for the hotly-anticipated sequel.
Rihanna Was Impressed by Wakanda Forever Trailer
During a press conference for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the movie’s director Ryan Coogler had the following exchange with the press moderator Jacqueline Coley, shedding light on the fact that it was the film’s initial trailer that persuaded Rihanna to board the film and create the credits song, “Lift Me Up.”
JACQUELINE: “Definitely. This one is the question that I knew that we would get, so I didn’t need to ask it. Mr. Ryan Coogler, sir, we have to know. How did you convince Rihanna to go back into the studio to make her solo album That is from Kasheera Setti [phonetic] from Pink Villa India.”
Coogler: “Wow.” [laugh]
JACQUELINE: “Yeah, how did you get Rihanna?”
Coogler: [clears throat] “Yeah, that’s a great question.”
Coogler: “I can’t take sole credit for that. I think that we have an incredible composer, Ludwig Goransson, who’s also a music producer, who’s got a great reputation. You know, made This is America with Childish Gambino [indiscernible] so I think Ludwig was a major factor. Big thanks to Jay Brown at Roc Nation and Jay-Z, who’s a friend, who helped make the connection. Look, Rihanna has given us a whole career, a whole catalog of music, and now she’s given us, you know, make-up and clothing, you know, and I think the world would understand if she hung up her mic, you know. And I completely understand, because I love her music so much, I feel like she’s given us all that you could ask for.
But the truth is, we were looking for a great artist who could tell the story of the film, and embrace the themes of the film, and present them to the audience in a different packaging. You know, that’s what Kendrick did for us so beautifully with the first film. And this film is different. You know, it made sense that it would be a woman, it made sense that it could be someone who could speak to, not necessarily the words, but the feeling of motherhood, because that’s a major theme in this film.
And I think it timed up, that she was in that kinda space in her life. [clears throat] And she was open and it was really the trailer I think that, when she saw the performances that everybody was putting down in the trailer, that was what kinda put her over the edge and she said, 'Hey, I wanna see this film, I wanna see if I can figure this out. 'We collaborated with this incredible singer Tems. And she and I wrote the words, Ludwig made the music. The music was recorded on, like, three continents.”
Coogler went on to discuss how the late Chadwick Boseman’s legacy was felt throughout Black Panther 2‘s production and the creation of the soundtrack, mentioning that Rihanna “said straight up, I did this for Chad.”
JACQUELINE: “Yeah, but you had a writing credit on a few of these, huh?”
Coogler: “Just that one. You know --”
JACQUELINE: “I mean --”
RYAN: “-- But truthfully, the music was recorded on, like, three different continents. Some of it was recorded, you know, recorded from the first Black Panther when Ludwig was in Senegal. So like, it came together in a lotta different ways. And I’m super happy with it and feel super thankful. But the truth is, you know, once she played us the record, you know, she said straight up, I did this for Chad. You know, and you know, so it was him, man.
Sitting here thinking about it, it’s hitting me right now. These four actors that are next to me, I watched you guys’ work since way before I knew y’all. I remember seeing y’all work and saying, man, I’d love to work with them someday. Tenoch in Sin Nombre, that’s the first time I saw you, Danai, Mother of George. Lupita, we came up together with 12 Years and Fruitville. At the same time, I saw you in My Brother the Devil, 2012. And Chad brought us all together, brought us together, you know what I mean? He just keeps on giving, you know? So I’m just really thankful that Rihanna was the latest gift to join the family and can’t wait for folks to, you know the song is out, but I can’t wait for folks to see how it’s used in the film.”
Rihanna Was a Major Get for Marvel
It was presumably Wakanda Forever’s San Diego Comic-Con trailer that piqued Rihanna’s interest and pulled her into the film.
That particular trailer is something of a fan-favorite and is chock full of stirring emotion set to a cover of “No Woman No Cry” and a track by Kendrick Lamar. The way the movie was presented in that first look would get just about anyone excited.
Rihanna is, of course, an icon in the recording industry, having won several awards for her music, including nine Grammys and twelve Bilboard Music Awards. So it was indeed quite the score for Marvel to have her on board for “Lift Me Up.”
If the Black Panther sequel is anything like the first one, then music will play an important role in engaging the audience. And it’s not just Rihanna helping that along. Grammy-winning composer Ludwig Göransson will return to assist in bringing the world of Wakanda to life with distinct musical stylings and innovative instrumentation.
Marvel Studios’ 30th feature film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will arrive in theaters on Friday, November 11.