Undeniably, the film Black Panther has greatly surpassed the expectations of many, breaking numerous domestic and international box office records. Interestingly enough, the characters of the top grossing film Black Panther are highly devoted hip hop fans, and they stated that while filming the movie, they spent the majority of their downtime battle rapping. Yes, battle rapping. LOL Emcee/Graphic Artist Kalik Scientific was inspired to create a computer animated short entitled, “Ritual Combat”, in which he depicts the main characters of the movie T’Challa and Killmonger as rap opponents in a mock virtual.
The virtual battle is even hosted by a computer generated Smack White, the real life bearded host of the infamous emcee battle league. I spoke with Kalik to gain further insight into what inspired him to create this Black
Panther themed virtual lyrical sparring match.
What inspired you to create this virtual battle?
After seeing the Black Panther film I was inspired by the multiple dichotomies represented by the characters. I felt that it left a few open ended discussions that were necessary to explore. After coming across a few videos of the actors from the film exhibiting their rapping skills i was struck with inspiration. I knew that a rap battle would be a great way to use the characters to continue the dialogue opened up by a film that struck a nerve with so many. I also have Jupiter (very) and Mars (competitive) conjunct in Virgo (lyricism) in my natal chart so I am a fan of healthy verbal competition. Often the best arises from within when we are challenged.
Why did you call the battle “Ritual Combat”?The title Ritual Combat came from an indigenous practice portrayed in the film. Every year a ritual combat ceremony is performed, and any Wakandan who is of royal blood is allowed to fight for the throne. When I created the WKRB (Wakanda Rap Battle League) I showed how these same rules apply on the mic.
In your opinion, what do T’Challah and Killmonger represent overall, both as characters in the movie and as emcees in the battle?T’Challa and Killmonger represent the biblical Cain and Abel as well as the planet mercury (the twins). Like other Marvel titles such as the civil rights movement inspired X-Men the characters mirror a Malcolmesque Magneto and a more peaceful Professor X (MLK). Like the Black Panther party they represent the ideological differences between Huey Newton and a more militant Eldridge Cleaver. Most importantly they represent the split identity of the misnomered “African American” seeking his origin. Killmonger in particular embodies the rage of the falsely labeled “black” in America going across the ocean to claim the throne of an elitist group of Africans who refused to accept him.
What were some of your favorite lines in the battle?Some of my favorite lines are when T’Challa says “looking like a Lego piece covered in 1,000 nipples” referring to the kill marks on Killmongers skin. One of the lines from Killmongers that sticks out is “the ancestral plane I’m about to send you there with your ashy feet up in the sandals that the women wear”.
What are the main points you want the viewer(s) to extract from watching the battle?The main points that I want the viewer to be able to extract is that competitive dialogue can exhibit intelligence and help us to resolve the true issues that plague us collectively. It is also important that the Moors of America mislabed with false brand names recognize that Wakanda is not a fictional place on the other side of the world but a place of their own history beneath their feet and behind the shadows cast by their own ignorance. Aside from being an indigenous American word for the great spirit used by many tribes there are a few current and ancient locations in the Americas named after Wakanda. I also found it imperative to reintroduce fun creativity and innovation back into an art form that has been strangled by the cold hands of corporate monotony. It is not only permissible but necessary to push the boundaries of intelligence and creativity without fear.