The live-animation remake of “The Lion King” debuted Friday (July 19), and so did music from Beyoncé, who stars in the film. “The Lion King: The Gift” takes fans through various plains of Afrobeat rhythms and has created a quake across the social media landscape.
“This is sonic cinema,” said Beyoncé in an announement on July 9. “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 Afrobeat.”
Paying tribute to Africa and to the Diaspora was important to her. “I wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline,” Beyoncé continued. “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.”
The album is heavy with Black talent, including Afrobeat artists Mr Eazi, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage and Tekno, who perform in multiple languages about embracing blessings (“Ja Ara E”), focusing on your path (“Don’t Jealous Me”) and claiming your own majesty (“Keys to the Kingdom”). Stateside, Jay-Z, Blue Ivy Carter, Kendrick Lamar, “The Lion King” co-star Childish Gambino and Tierra Whack add their respective flavors.
Twitter users joyfully sang praises for the album:
Dear Wizkid, You made Us proud by nailing that #brownskingirl track with Beyonce. Thank you for always coming through for the Continent. You’re a true king ? We respect you forever ? Signed Africans.#TheGiftAlbum pic.twitter.com/HNechCAtps— OWOSENI SAMUEL SEYI (@Sakpo007) July 19, 2019
I love a shit talking Beyoncé! Mood 4 Eva gave me that. And the busta sample! Listen!!!! #TheGift— Where Is Yo Scoota? Where Is It?! (@AshleyShyMiller) July 19, 2019
Pose like a trophy when Naomis walk in She need an Oscar for that pretty dark skin Pretty like Lupita when the cameras close in Drip broke the levee when my Kellys roll in BROWN SKIN GIRL#TheGiftAlbum pic.twitter.com/U1qMbch20P— BEYHIVE.com.br | SPIRIT (@beyhivecombr) July 19, 2019
Watch the video for the first single from the album, “Spirit,” which features a Blue Ivy cameo: