Song of the Week: Rihanna Returns to Music After Six Years with “Lift Me Up”

King Tuff, corook and Katherine Li also dropped essential tracks

rihanna lift me up
Rihanna, photo courtesy of the artist

    Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Rihanna returns with a song written for the new Black Panther movie.

    It’s been over six years since Rihanna released new original solo material, 2016’s ANTI. Contrary to what some might have expected, though, the latest from the artist and business mogul isn’t an explosive comeback to introduce us to 2022 Rihanna — rather, the gentle, tender “Lift Me Up” features her singing over a sparse instrumental.

    Co-written with rising Nigerian artist Tems, Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson, and director Ryan Coogler for Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the song was crafted as a tribute to the late, great Chadwick Boseman. “Keep me in the warmth of your love/ When you depart, keep me safe,” she sings. Boseman, of course, famously portrayed King T’Challa in a performance that re-shaped the conversation around representation in film, particularly the mammoth superhero genre.


    The loss of an actor like Boseman, who was known to be as luminous and generous in everyday life as he was on the big screen, is a devastating one. “Lift Me Up” focuses specifically on the idea of those who are gone continuing to love and protect the living, which is also a prevalent theme in the Black Panther films themselves; the first installment featured Boseman’s T’Challa unpacking the pressures of leading with his own departed father in a sacred ancestral plane.

    While few specific plot details are known at this point about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, trailers have put the women in the story — including those portrayed by Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Guirira — front and center, underscoring Rihanna as a perfect choice for a focus song for the film.

    “Drowning in an endless sea/ Take some time and stay with me/ Keep me in the strength of your arms,” she sings, proving that when it comes to making a comeback, a quiet, stripped-down song can make an impact, too.


    — Mary Siroky
    Contributing Editor

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