How Rihanna Was Convinced to Return to Music for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Rihanna makes her big return to music on the soundtrack for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” — and, according to director Ryan Coogler, late star Chadwick Boseman is one of the reasons she’s now part of the “Black Panther” family.

The film shows how Wakanda deals with the loss of their protector, T’Challa, following the real-life death of Boseman in 2020. Rihanna came out of a six-year hiatus from solo music to record two songs for the soundtrack, including the Boseman tribute song “Lift Me Up,” which dropped today.

During a press conference for the movie on Friday, Coogler was asked how they convinced the singer to join the soundtrack … and his answer had quite a few around him tearing up.

“I can’t take sole credit for that,” Coogler admitted, first praising composer and music producer Ludwig Göransson for his contributions and the team at Roc Nation for connecting them to Rihanna.

“Rihanna has given us a whole career and now she’s given us makeup and clothing and I think the world would understand if she hung up her mic and I’d completely understand,” Coogler said of the multi-hyphenate star. “I feel like she’s given us all we could ask for.”

That being said, he added that they were “looking for a great artist who could tell the story of the film and present it to the audience in a different packaging,” like Kendrick Lamar had done with the soundtrack on the first movie. He added that, this time around and due to the prominence of female characters in the film, “it made sense it would be a woman” and also “made sense it could be someone who could speak to the feeling of motherhood.”

“I think it timed up that she was in that kind of space in her life,” he added of Rihanna, who recently welcomed her first child with A$AP Rocky. “She was open and it was really the trailer, when she saw the performances everybody was putting down in the trailer, that made her say, ‘I want to see that film and see if I can figure it out.'”

The song was written by Tems, Göransson, Rihanna and Coogler himself and recorded across five countries.

“The truth is, once she played us the record, she said, straight up, ‘I did this for Chad’ and so it was him, man,” Coogler continued, starting to get a little emotional alongside the film’s cast.

“Sitting here thinking about it, it’s hitting me right now. These four actors that are next to me [Tenoch Huerta, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright], I watched your guys’ work since way before I knew y’all … and Chad brought us all together” he said. “He just keeps on giving. So, I’m just really thankful that Rihanna was the latest gift to join this family.”

His words clearly hit for some of the film’s stars, as Nyong’o was seen dabbing away tears following his response and the moderator even had to briefly pause to collect her thoughts.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits theaters November 11.

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