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Baaba Maal talks 'Wakanda Forever' soundtrack

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The top film at the box office this first weekend of December was not, as you might expect, a holiday film, but the second installment of the Black Panther franchise, "Wakanda Forever." It's earned nearly $400 million already and, like its predecessor, is breaking records at the box office.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAABA MAAL, ET AL.'S "NYANA WAM")

MARTIN: The celestial experience of the "Black Panther" films comes from many elements, but a critical piece is surely its soaring soundtrack. Senegalese musician Baaba Maal played an essential part in that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NYANA WAM")

BAABA MAAL: (Vocalizing).

MARTIN: The relationship with the franchise goes back to 2018, when Baaba Maal, who was born and raised in a West African nation and is still based there, was asked to join the production of "Black Panther." After the death of actor Chadwick Boseman, Maal returned for the sequel to help celebrate the actor's legacy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WELCOME HOME")

MAAL: (Singing in non-English language).

When I was asked to participate on the movie "Wakanda Forever," and particularly in this part of the movie, where it's a celebration dedicated to Chadwick, I say yes because he is someone that I really did admire. And to celebrate him, it have to be an African way, just to play drums, to talk about great people. And this is often what we do when a big leader passes away - just to mention his name, just to celebrate him, this is how we do it. And I say in the song that I'm an artist. I'm a singer that never prays and sing and dance for a bad leader. I will always just sing and dance for a good leader, so this is how I can mention his name or talk about him and celebrate him, and it will pass it to the next generation so they will never forget about who he was.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This weekend, Baaba Maal also has a new single out from his forthcoming album, "Being."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YERIMAYO CELEBRATION")

MAAL: (Singing in non-English language).

Yeah. This song is called "Yerimayo, The Fisherman's Celebration," but it means more than that. It means these people, who are connected to the spirits of the river, and they are the guardians of the river. And every time they do the celebration to make people to understand that our culture will never die and that our culture is connected to the river.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YERIMAYO CELEBRATION")

MAAL: (Singing in non-English language).

I wanted to bring this single out right now because it's a good way of people to celebrate because people are together. And this is a celebration song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YERIMAYO CELEBRATION")

MAAL: (Singing in non-English language).

And I love things that just touch people. This is why I say that the album should be called "Being" - just "Being" because when you feel that you are just being, you can talk about everything that matters people at this time. And we are using it to come together and to talk about the things that we want to resolve in our lives. This song is called "Agreement."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AGREEMENT")

MAAL: (Singing in non-English language).

Your ears and they open your heart for me, I want to talk to you a little bit about love and life. This is just what I'm saying into this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AGREEMENT")

MAAL: (Singing in non-English language).

MARTIN: That was Baaba Maal describing his work on the Black Panther franchise and his new single, "Yerimayo Celebration." It's available on Spotify or Apple Music. The song will also appear on the new album "Being," which is set for release in March 2023. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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