If someone had enough popularity among black Americans to resurrect a discussion about migrating back to Africa, that might just be Kendrick Lamar. The rapper’s new song with SZA for the Black Panther soundtrack, “All the Stars,” came to life in a music video that dropped ahead of the film’s release. In the video, which has more than 43 million views on YouTube, Lamar goes on a visually stunning voyage to Africa that’s loaded with symbolism and references to the continent’s many cultures.
But the short film was not just noteworthy for how it further amplified fan excitement ahead of Black Panther hitting theaters. “All the Stars” also brought Afrofuturism—a philosophy that combines African and African American culture, technology, and science fiction to create provocative portrayals of the future—roaring back to center stage in hip-hop. The music video proved a meaningful departure from the ways in which many black artists had been depicting their connection to the African diaspora before the movie arrived.
In the few years before the release of the Black Panther soundtrack, mainstream black musicians popular in the U.S. were sampling dancehall and afrobeats more regularly, and doing more high-profile collaborations with African artists—with, for example, Drake appearing on the Nigerian rapper Wizkid’s 2017 summer hit “Come Closer.” It had become common to see hyper-specific references like Rihanna ending her 2018 Grammy performance by doing a South African dance called gwara gwara or French Montana and Swae Lee filming their 2017 video for “Unforgettable” in Kampala, Uganda.