Fans waited a long time for Rihanna’s return, six years to be exact. We waited through Fenty beauty releases, A$AP Rocky, a new baby, Super Bowl announcements and teases that new music could possibly be coming one day.
Finally, “Lift Me Up” from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack was released on Friday for everyone to consume, and it did not disappoint. Written by Rihanna, Tems, Ludwig Göransson and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, the song was made as a tribute to the late star actor Chadwick Boseman.
While some may have wanted a song in the vein of “Pon de Replay” or “Work,” what we got was a beautiful ballad that gracefully pulls at your emotional connections to the character of King T’Challa and Boseman as an actor.
Throughout the track, Rihanna sings, “Lift me up/Hold me down/Keep me close/Safe and sound. Burning in a hopeless dream/Hold me when you go to sleep/Keep me in the warmth of your love when you depart/Keep me safe, safe and sound.”
She continues, “Drowning in an endless sea/Take some time and stay with me/Keep me in the strength of your arms/Keep me safe/Safe and sound.”
The lyrics are not only reminiscent of how Boseman’s character made people feel within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also how fans of his character were inspired by his presence on screen. In both instances, he made people feel safe.
In an interview with Complex, Tems, a co-writer of the song said, “After speaking with Ryan and hearing his direction for the film and the song, I wanted to write something that portrays a warm embrace from all the people that I’ve lost in my life.”
She continued, “I tried to imagine what it would feel like if I could sing to them now and express how much I miss them. Rihanna has been an inspiration to me so hearing her convey this song is a great honor.”
And Rihanna conveys the lyrics beautifully. Oftentimes in music, lyrics can be phenomenally written, but if they are not performed in a way that brings the emotions out of the song, the track may not have the impact that it was meant to have. In the case of Rihanna, her delivery is elegant and emotional, which makes it work to perfection.
When I heard the song, I thought about the admiration I had for Boseman, and the love and respect I had for those I’ve lost in my life. Because of that, the song did exactly what it was supposed to do and made for an excellent tribute to one of the most beloved actors of the last decade.
I’m sure it will hit even closer to home when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is released in theaters on Nov. 11.