Release Date: Jul 19, 2019
Record label: Parkwood
When Beyoncé occupies a space -- any space -- it’s safe to say that she doesn’t just occupy it. Rather, she takes over it, switches the style up and makes it her own. So when it was announced the modern legend was going to contribute her talents to the 2019 CGI-live action reboot of The Lion King, it was almost a guarantee she would lend both her voice and vocal talents to the film (which is a delightful, albeit superfluous, remake).
For the 2019 CGI retelling of Disney's classic animated film The Lion King, Beyoncé wore multiple crowns for the project, not only voicing the adult Nala but also curating the companion compilation/soundtrack, The Lion King: The Gift. Not to be confused with the reimagined score/soundtrack featuring Hans Zimmer, Tim Rice, Lebo M. , Elton John, and Beyoncé herself, The Gift recruits a roster of African talent and American hip-hop/R&B acts to create a buoyant hybrid of futuristic, cross-Atlantic Afro-pop.
As Beyoncé's art has grown outwardly political and pro-black throughout the decade, she has increasingly called upon African-born artists to participate in and inform her work. She did this with Tofo Tofo, the Mozambican pantsula dancers who appeared in her 2011 "Run the World (Girls)" video. In her self-titled era, she sampled Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on 2013's "***Flawless," and Griot vocalist Ismael Kouyaté on the Afro-inspired "Grown Woman." The Lemonade film, which was threaded by excerpts of Somali-British poet Warsan Shire's work, featured ritual Yoruba body makeup work by Nigerian-American artist Laolu Senbanjo.
Bringing together musicians from Cameroon to America to Nigeria to South Africa to the UK, this Beyoncé-curated soundtrack is an eclectic and dizzying collection The latest album by global superstar Beyoncé isn't the much-sought after solo work her hive craves. Rather, much like the Kendrick Lamar-curated 'Black Panther' soundtrack, it's a demonstration of her taste and star-studded power. In giving the spotlight to lesser-known artists, ceding space, she's introduced a slew of emerging talent to her global audience while making an album worthy of repeated listens.
Beyoncé is ever-growing and ever-maturing in her musical stylings. Not one to shy away from a challenge, she has provided the voice of lion queen, Nala, as well as curating an entire companion album for Disney's CGI remake of The Lion King. Bey importantly introduces African-influenced music - not to mention African artists - to an audience which some may not have previously been exposed to.