- Rihanna delivers two ballads on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”: “Lift Me Up” and “Born Again.”
- During a press conference, director Ryan Coogler said Jay Z helped connect Marvel with the singer.
- Coogler said, ultimately, the “Wakanda Forever” trailer sold Rihanna on a collaboration.
Rihanna released her first single in six years, “Lift Me Up,” as a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman for Marvel’s upcoming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The ballad is one of two original tracks Rihanna made for the sequel.
During the film’s press conference Friday, which Insider attended virtually, director Ryan Coogler was asked how Marvel convinced the Grammy-winning artist to make her first new songs in years.
“It’s a great question,” Coogler said to laughter from the cast, which included Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, and Tenoch Huerta Mejia. “I can’t take the sole credit for that.”
“I think the world would understand if she hung up her mic,” Coogler said of Rihanna’s vast body of work, including her fashion and make-up lines. “I completely understand ’cause I love her music so much. I feel like she’s given all that somebody, all that you could ask for.”
Coogler credited the film’s composer, Oscar winner Ludwig Göransson, Roc Nation, and his friend, Jay Z, as “major factors” for connecting them with Rihanna, telling press that they were searching for an artist who could speak to one of the film’s major themes of motherhood.
“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. That’s what Kendrick did for us so beautifully with the first film,” Coogler said, referencing Kendrick Lamar’s work on the score for 2018’s “Black Panther.”
He continued: “This film is different. 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, cause that’s a major, major theme in this film. And I think it timed up that she was in that kind of space in her life.”
Rihanna gave birth to her first child, a son, in May with partner A$AP Rocky.
In the end, Coogler said the trailer for “Wakanda Forever,” which was publicly released in July, won the singer over and convinced her to collaborate on the film.
“It was really the trailer. I think that when she saw the performances that everybody was putting down in the trailer, that was what kind of put her over the edge and say, ‘Hey, I wanna see this film. I wanna see if I can figure this out,’” Coogler said.
Rihanna’s first single for the movie, “Lift Me Up” was cowritten by the singer, Cooger, Göransson, and Nigerian artist Tems, and serves as a tribute to Boseman.
“Once she played us the record, she said, straight up, ‘I did this for Chad,’” the director recalled Rihanna saying about the track.
Boseman, who played T’Challa and the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died in 2020 after a private battle with cancer. “Wakanda Forever” is dedicated to Boseman and serves as a celebration of the character as his family mourns and grieves him in different ways.
The second track, “Born Again,” produced by The-Dream, plays during the film’s credits.
“Chad brought us all together,” Coogler said of the cast. “He keeps on giving. I’m just really thankful that Rihanna was the latest gift to join the family and I 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.”
“Lift Me Up” is now available to stream online. The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” score will be available on November 11, the same day as the movie’s release.