Rihanna announced the release of "Lift Me Up," her first new song as a lead artist in six years, as part of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack on Friday, marking the end of her long-awaited musical comeback. The song was co-written by Nigerian singer, Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems. Other co-writers are Ludwig Göransson, Robyn Fenty and Ryan Coogler. It was produced by Göransson.
The raw, poignant ballad co-written by Rihanna, Tems, Ludwig Göransson, and the film's director, Ryan Coogler is a tribute to the life and legacy of late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020.
"Lift me up / Hold me down / Keep me close / Safe and sound," she sings in the track, a stripped-down affair anchored by piano, strings, and harp. A choir surfaces to back her delicate vocals at the song's halfway mark. Its simplicity is striking for Rihanna, who's become famous mostly for her sexy, defiant dance-pop bangers, EW reports.
Grammy-nominated Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems explained in a press release that the inspiration for "Lift Me Up" came from a heartfelt conversation she had with Coogler. She shared that "After speaking with Ryan and hearing his direction for the film and the song, I wanted to write something that portrays a warm embrace from all the people that I've lost in my life," she said. "I tried to imagine what it would feel like if I could sing to them now and express how much I miss them. Rihanna has been an inspiration to me, so hearing her convey this song is a great honor."
While at the premiere for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Wednesday, Coogler revealed what inspired the creative team to reach out to Rihanna about appearing on the film's soundtrack. The singer is releasing two songs for the album: lead single "Lift Me Up" and the upcoming "Born Again."