Rihanna fans have Ryan Coogler and to thank for her surprise music comeback.
The Wild Thoughts singer has recorded two songs for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack and released the last Friday.
It’s Rihanna’s first solo song since 2017 and precedes her anticipated performance at the Halftime Show next year.
Her involvement with the blockbuster Marvel epic came as a surprise to fans and Ryan, director of both Black Panther instalments, has revealed how it all came together.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk and other press at the global press conference for Wakanda Forever, the filmmaker explained: ‘I can’t take sole credit for that. We got an incredible composer, Ludwig Goransson, who is also a music producer, he’s got a great reputation. He made This Is America with Childish Gambino.
‘The movie was a major factor, big thanks to Jay Brown, Roc Nation and Jay Z who’s a friend and made the connection.’
Ryan continued: ‘Look, Rihanna has given us a whole career, a whole catalogue of music and now she’s given us make-up and clothing and I think the world would understand if she hung up her mic, and I completely understand because I love her music and I feel that she’s given all that [we] could ask for.
‘But the truth is we were looking for a great artist who could tell the story of the film, embrace the themes of the film and present them to the audience in a different packaging.’
Ryan praised Kendrick Lamar for his ‘beautiful’ execution of the first Black Panther soundtrack in 2018 but acknowledges that this sequel has taken a new direction, particularly following the death of lead star Chadwick Boseman.
Referring to Rihanna, he said: ‘It made sense that it would be a woman, that it would be someone who could speak – not necessarily the words – but the feeling of motherhood because that’s a major theme in this film and I think it was timed up that she was in that space in her life.’
According to the director, Rihanna, 34, was particularly encouraged to get involved when she saw the cast’s performances in the trailer released earlier this year.
‘That was what made her think “Yeah, I want to see this film”,’ he said.
Together with Nigerian singer Tems, Lift Me Up was recorded in three continents and even features lyrics intended for music for the first Black Panther soundtrack.
Moving the cast to tears at the conference, Ryan added: ‘I’m so happy with it and super thankful. The truth is, once she played us the record she said, “I did this for Chad”.
‘Sitting here thinking about it, it’s hitting me right now and these four actors next to me, I watched you guys work way before I knew y’all.
‘Rihanna is the newest member of the family.’
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits cinemas on November 11.