By Usma Lateef, Staff Writer

Not only did the Marvel movie Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings display the talent of many Asian actors, the film’s soundtrack also highlights a handful of brilliant Asian musicians. The soundtrack, also an official album, contains eighteen tracks and was executive produced by the music label 88rising. Every single track is extremely well-made and a bop, to say the least, but here are my top five favorite tracks from the Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings soundtrack.

5. “In The Dark” by Swae Lee feat. Jhené Aiko

It’s not hard to immediately get into the pulsing beat and palm tree-esque key hits of this track. Swae Lee’s smoothed-over, computerized voice in addition to his original and unusual rhymes are addictive right from the moment he starts singing. In the second half of the song, Jhené Aiko’s airy vocals cut through the thick synth instrumental to add another contrasting yet perfectly fitting layer and rich sound to this track. The reverb on both of their vocals (especially when they harmonize!) fills up the space nicely in the body of this short and cool summer night vibe-filled song.

4. “Foolish” by Rich Brian, Warren Hue, & Guapdad 4000

Prepare yourself to jump into this intense, bass-heavy, bouncing hip-hop track sprinkled with cash register and Dragon Ball Z punch sound effects. This track spotlights three different rappers with three distinct voices and rapping styles all weaved into a single dynamic head-bopping track. But Guapdad 4000’s verse has to be my favorite on this song. He starts off the track with his kid-ish voice and almost-tripping-over-his-own-words flow. The perfectly placed pauses in the instrumental during his verse leave everything suspended in the air for a split second, before hitting the next beat again, giving the track an extra clean feel to it. Guapdad 4000 was not lying when he said he was a “groovy Asian” in his verse, and this song is clear proof of it.

3. “Diamonds + and Pearls” by DPR LIVE, DPR IAN, & peace.

Right off the bat, the left and right panning on the layers upon layers of edging-on-shrill harmonizing vocals is something worth noticing. This track has such a (fittingly) cinematic feel due to the vintage feeling piano riff and dramatic use of the string instruments with a grand opening to the song, building up to a full-on rock’n’roll beat drop. The production quality of this song is no joke, but nothing less is expected from DPR— both DPR LIVE’s and DPR IAN’s music label which stands for Dream Perfect Regime— since they always execute flawlessly. (Check them out; I promise you won’t regret it, especially if you liked this track.) The more times you listen to this song, the better it gets since it’s impossible to catch from just the first listen the nuances and little soundbites here and there which all come together sonically to create this track. Who knew a song about diamonds, tea, and pearls could go so hard?

2. “Lose Control” by JJ Lin

To me, this track fits the film Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings the best. In the movie, this song plays in Shang’s earbuds as he walks down the sidewalk to his apartment on what seems like an average day. This song is exactly that: a cool song to play when walking around town that makes you feel like a main character in a Marvel film. There is a comforting quality in JJ Lin’s voice and lyrics, something we can all find familiarity in, which come in after the introduction of the track; the introduction, being the strikingly catchy melody with a super cool and unique timbre, slides under JJ Lin’s vocals once they make an entrance. Though I find the middle of this song weak and uninteresting (the beat drop was, sadly, disappointing), the track ties off movingly and sonorously. Once again, classical string instruments find their way into this song to build up tension and drama, but the star of the show is in the second half of the song, where the traditional Asian stringed instrument solos at the very end and brings in this sense of balance and peace. (Coincidentally, the part at 3:34 minutes does sound reminiscent of the track “Peace” from the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender). This soul-stirring solo closing off the piece allows the track to fade away softly into silence in order to allow the listener to just sit there and reflect.

1. “Fire in the Sky” by Anderson .Paak

When I heard this song starting to play at the credits of the movie, I smiled. This is the perfect credits song, I thought to myself. The swirling blue graphics of water playing on the screen paired with this smooth R&B track starring Anderson .Paak’s smooth voice blended together to create an audiovisual experience right then and there that felt like an entire movie in itself. The song moves at a leisurely pace, flowing like water, (with a classic drum kit drumbeat keeping the song moving) as Anderson .Paak sings of blissful love with an underlying calm and content tone. The gentle guitar strumming and waltzing piano keys play into the chill vibe of this track as well. “Fire in the Sky” is just such a relaxing and enlightening track, like a breath of fresh, first-day-of-summer air.

While all the tracks are contemporary and of highest quality in construction, a variety of genres of songs is evidently present in this soundtrack as well. It was difficult to choose only five of the best tracks from the Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings soundtrack because there are so many differently styled songs which all are spectacular standalone tracks too. So after you finish reading this, go and listen to the Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings soundtrack, and be the judge of it yourself! Do you agree that these are the top five best songs from the soundtrack, or do you think other tracks should have been up on the list instead?

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