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Screen shot from "All the Stars"

"All The Stars" Is An Afrofuturistic Voyage Back To Our Roots

Kendrick Lamar and SZA's "All the Stars" video illustrates a journey through blackness, with a heavenly essence.


Blackness is a journey. At first, degraded and discriminated against by society, and sometimes ourselves. Then, monetized and appropriated by whiteness±—the same entity that marginalized it—as if it can be boiled down to a science instead of the supernatural that it is. Finally, embraced, reclaimed and realized, by us, the keepers of its true powers and force.


Reaching this destination is no easy excursion, and was much more challenging for those before us, but as conversations on racism, inclusivity and social justice become more prominent, I dream our future black children will reach their peace easier, and sooner, than we.

Kendrick Lamar and SZA's new music video for "All the Stars," the lead single from the Black Panther soundtrack, illustrates one narrative of voyaging through blackness, but with an empyreal essence. Here, blackness is rectifying the demarcation between African-American and African by crossing a spiritual bridge leading to afrocentric, afrofuturistic dimensions. The chimerical fable breathes life into a communal dream we imagine while awake and with eyes shut: what is home, and what will I find once I'm there?

Each scene in "All the Stars" imagines Lamar in distant yet familiar African landscapes, edging closer to divine truth.

First, by boat: an ocean of arms carry him on his solitary arc, like a lonely Noah determined to salvage what's left of the culture. He communes with small children in red caps like small Igbo chiefs, who surround a towering idol of a black woman's graceful gold head. He sits achingly pretty with Congolese Sapeur fashionistos, then strolls through a ghostly, sublime forest with a pack of black panthers guarding him. This scene in particular embodies so much: Black Panther, the king and hero, and the Black Panther movement, a force of persistent freedom fighting and black elevation.

The ear-grabbing hook further rouses us into contemplation of destiny, discovery and determination. "Maybe the night and my dreams might let me know...all the stars are closer," SZA chants, while twirling gleefully in a sky drowning in stars, a visual manifestation of black girl magic.

She acts as Lamar's spirit guide, dancing, swaying and stunning while traveling parallel to Lamar's pilgrimage. Her landscapes are even more ethereal and untouchable, as she is often the only one moving in her scenes, or staying patiently still as the environment comes to life around her—the way ancestral spirits go unnoticed as they protectively float around you.

Notice the women in this music video are all gigantic goddesses. They pose stoically, like all knowing totems, as Lamar winds in and out of them. Their attire, intricate golden suits, glimmering braids and geometric afros, are direct callbacks to the visions of Lina Iris Viktor. When Lamar finally meets his makers—more gigantic black goddesses, this time reminiscent of Egyptian deities—he stands confidently in their presence, as SZA watches on in approval. He made it.

The idea of returning to one's roots encompasses embarking on a voyage back to a land filled with as much marvel and enchantment as clarity and truth. Africa. The shape and outline of this content alone fills us with hope and endearment, even if we're unsure of where we land. It's our infinite destination, despite whether or not we arrive.

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Listen to 10 Great Songs From Johnny Clegg

Here are some of the best songs to remember South Africa's son of the soil.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that South African musician, Johnny Clegg, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Understandably, heartfelt tributes have been pouring in ever since. Long before it was cool (or even legal) to be in close proximity to blackness and anything attached to it in South Africa, Clegg, a white man, was doing just that. That is exactly why he was given the endearing title of South Africa's "son of the soil."

Growing up during Apartheid, Clegg was taught how to speak the Zulu language by a domestic worker named Charlie Mzila. In his teenage years, his appreciation for the Zulu culture continued and he soon learnt the traditional dance styles known as isishameni and also learnt how to play the Maskandi guitar. Clegg's music was a beacon of light during a very dark time in South Africa's history and his songs about Nelson Mandela (at a time where songs were banned for merely mentioning the name of the late statesman and other key struggle activists) brought the country together.

It is irrefutable that a music giant has fallen. However, Clegg leaves behind a wealth of music featuring other great South African artists and groups such as Zakwe, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Juluka/Suvuka, among several others. His music undeniably brought South Africans and people all around the world together.

We've picked ten of our favorite songs from the late musician's discography in honor of a life that was lived to the fullest.

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Stonebwoy in "Tuff Seed"

The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Stonebwoy, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tiwa Savage x Zlatan, Africa Express, Juls x Mr Eazi and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Beyoncé Wore These 2 African Designers in Her Music Video for 'Spirit'

Queen Bey continues to include and give a nod to African talent in her visuals.

As we draw even closer to Disney's The Lion King opening in theaters this week, Beyoncé continues to lead the way with her new music video for "Spirit"—the first single off of the film's album she produced and curated, The Lion King: The Gift.

Shot in the Havasu Falls in Arizona's Grand Canyon, Beyoncé and her legion of beautiful dancers are one with nature and its various elements as she beckons us to be brave and hear the calling of spirit. As we noted when she announced the album, the track opens with a call and response in Swahili that translates to "Long live the king": Uishi kwa mda mrefu mfalme—uishi kwa.

Keeping our eyes peeled for African influences in the music video, it's evident that is seen in the choreography. We even spotted our extended fam with the afrobeats moves—the AVO Boys: Stephen Ojo and Caleb Bonney—as two of her dancers in the video.

Beyoncé continues to also give a nod to African talent through the looks she donned in "Spirit" styled by her mainstay, Zerina Akers.

Take a look at the two African designers she wore in the video below.

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