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WPGM Recommends: Beyoncé – The Lion King: The Gift (Album Review)

After gracing us with her presence at Coachella last year, Beyoncé aka Queen B has come back again to gift us with a new record titled The Lion King: The Gift, to accompany this year’s Lion King live action remake.

Everyone has seen the original Lion King animation. If not, then it is a fundamental right that you do. In my opinion, it was a very important part of my pre-teens! The 1994 original filled us with life lessons as kids, which we only grew up to understand as adults, but the new remake brought a deep sense of nostalgia from all those years ago.

For the live action remake, who better to bless us with the soundtrack and gift us with much more, than Beyoncé herself, who also plays Nala in the Disney film. With 27 songs, this album is truly breathtaking, inspiring and a proud moment for all of us Africans and ethnic minorities of a darker hue.

Not only did she pay tribute and connect us to the movie, but she also incorporated different sounds and genres that wouldn’t restrict the creativity and imagery of it, bringing in together some well known African artists in the afrobeats scene such as Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Nija and Shatta Wale, along the way.

This fantastic music collaboration gathered us all even closer to the movie, and the album made it even greater and I’m sure we are all thankful to her for it. Included between some interludes from the movie, Beyoncé gives us “Find Your Way Back“, “Bigger“, “Mood 4 Eva“, “Already“, “Don’t Jealous Me“, “Nile“, “Water“, “Keys To The Kingdom“, “My Power“, “Ja Ara E“, “Spirit” (the official movie soundtrack) and “Brown Skin Girl“.

With sweet vocals from her 6-year old daughter Blue Ivy on this song, “Brown Skin Girl” has been played and replayed many times by young black girls and women from all over the world. This particular song puts black girls and women on a long overdue pedal stool and is encouraging to us, to appreciate our melanin despite of the world’s criticisms and scrutiny.

In a recent press statement, Beyoncé goes further to explain her thought process behind making the album. She says: “This is sonic cinema. This is a new experience of storytelling. I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film. It is a mixture of genres and collaboration that isn’t one sound. It is influenced by everything from R&B, pop, hip-hop, and Afro Beat.

I wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline. Each song was written to reflect the film’s storytelling that gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery, while listening to a new contemporary interpretation. 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“.

This was the best thing she could do. The album put many of the African artists featured on a bigger map than they’re already on. It has given them more exposure and I’m sure many Americans were equally intrigued with the beat and rhythm that is afrobeats, as the genre is not so prominent in the US like it is here in the UK.

All of the songs collectively pieced together demonstrate Beyoncé’s ability to make us stop what we are doing and listen. The work is indeed a magnificent one that she has cleverly created to bridge across artists, which will give the opportunity for many to experience African sounds. It is indeed the gift that keeps on giving.

Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift album is out now via Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, purchase it on iTunes here, and stream it on Spotify below.

Words by Felician Lumona

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