We didn’t need another proof of Beyoncé’s enormous talent but the fact is that every time she releases something, she raises the bar much higher and we are forced to review the size of her talent.
It happened last time with Homecoming, the Netflix docu-film on the Beycella experience through which Queen Bey taught us the cultural importance of the African American community, conveying a strong message in an exquisitely pop show.
She did the last giant step with The Lion King: The Gift album entirely produced and edited by herself to accompany the release of the Disney’s live-action remake of Lion King in which she gave the voice to Nala, alongside Childish Gambino in the role of Simba.
The 27-track album features short dialogues taken from the film and a number of stars like Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, Tierra Whack, Childish Gambino, Major Lazer, Pharrell, 070 Shake as well as some of Africa’s most significant musicians.
On The Lion King: The Gift Beyoncé continues the undertakings of Homecoming, embodying and evoking what being black truly is: pride, strength and natural beauty.
Beyoncé describes The Lion King: The Gift as “a love letter to Africa”, a new tribute to the blackness in which, thanks to the collaboration of African musicians such as Wiz Kid, Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage, we are able to breathe deeply the “spirit” of the African land.
As is clear from its title, this album is a gift, indeed it contains a series of gifts (to Africa, to Blue Ivy, and to future generations). So here are the best gifts from The Lion King: The Gift album.
“MOOD 4 EVA”
The track that features her husband JAY-Z as well as her Lion King co-star Childish Gambino opens with a sample from the Malian songstress Oumou Sangaré from the song called “Diaraby Nene“. “MOOD 4 EVA” is produced by Just Blaze and Dj Khaled, and despite the features, Beyoncé sets the rules and the mood of the song.
She raps around a tropical beat instrumental with incendiary bars like “I am Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, I am the Nala, sister of Naruba, Osun, Queen Sheba, I am the mother” reminding us who she is.
“Spirit”, the Oscar-winning song
“Spirit”, the first single off of her album, is an Oscar-winning song.
It’s absolutely epic, exciting and full of tension and could definitely consecrate Beyoncé as a pop Queen, giving her the victory at the next Academy Awards.
This is the only piece in the film’s soundtrack that was not produced by Elton John but by Beyoncé herself (along with Timothy McKenzie and IIya Salmanzadeh) who seems to have written it for the Oscar prize.
Hearing her powerful and heavenly vocal on this song lets us come nearer to the Paradise.
The fashion-filled visual for“Spirit”
“Spirit” is accompanied by an evocative visual that through a series of images, situations and looks enhances the natural beauty of the African territory and its people.
Beyoncé looks so beautiful in each of the 12 outfits styled by Zerina Akers, and blends perfectly with the colors of the background. The soft lines are a triumph of sensuality because the style mixes the tribal with the luxurious, the eccentric with the essential.
Africa conquers U.S.
It’s incredible that one of the most influential female singers in the world is engaging with the African sounds to “open a big crack” in the American streaming industry.
The meeting between U.S. and Africa reminds us the hit movie’s soundtrack Black Panther: The Album, produced by Kendrick Lamar. Similar to Black Panther-inspired album, The Lion King connects regional genres with the American rap, featuring globally recognised talents alongside underestimated African musicians in order to make the Spirit of Africa even more authentic.
“It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me.”
So the rap and the tribal rhythms, the American music stars and the African artists, as well as the American designers and the Senegalese brands mix to talk about a spectacular and culturally alive Africa.
The Blue Ivy’s debut on “Brown Skin Girl”
Beyonce’s little lion Blue Ivy made a cameo in the video for “Spirit”, wearing the same outfit of her mother and that had already made us crazy. But hearing her voice on the album gave us the death blow.
“Brown Skin Girl” is such an emotional song because it’s an ode to the black females: “Brown skin girl/ your skin just like pearls/ the best thing in the world / I’d never trade you for anybody else”. That’s why this song has an important message to the young girls of today and tomorrow.