The Lion King album by Beyoncé was released on Friday, 19th July 2019. Barely 24-hours after the release, it has got the internet buzzing. However, the huge number of African artists on the album is drawing the most attention. Rather than just producing a remake of familiar tracks, The Lion King album is simply inspired. In an interview with Good Morning America, Beyoncé said,
“This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa. I wanted to make sure we found some of the best talent in Africa, and not just use some of the sounds and did my interpretation of it. I wanted it to be authentic to what is beautiful about the music in Africa.”
Twenty-five years after the release of the animated classic, the 3D version is set to recreate the same effect as the first. Besides the album, Beyoncé was also the voice of Nala, the adult lioness in The Lion King remake. Prior to the release of The Lion King album, Beyoncé released the lead single, ‘Spirit’. The track currently has over 14 million views on YouTube. The 27-track album called ‘The Gift’ is punctuated by excerpts from the movie.
Meet the African acts on The Lion King album
There are four non-Beyoncé tracks on The Lion King album. One of these is ‘Keys To The Kingdom’ by Mr. Eazi and Tiwa Savage. This laid-back rendition is on ode to Simba’s potential. The album also features Swahili chant and renditions in Yoruba, Afrikaans and Nigerian Pidgin. From Nigeria to Ghana to Cameroon, and South Africa, here are all the Africans on The Lion King: The Gift.
Undoubtedly one of the most successful Afrobeat stars in this decade, 29-year-old Wizkid is a singer and songwriter. His 2016 collaboration with Drake, ‘One Dance’ shot him into the global spotlight. Consequently, he became the first Nigerian artist to make it to the US Hot 100 chart. Wizkid features on the track ‘Black Skin Girl’ in The Lion King Album alongside Beyoncé and Blue Ivy.
Leaving Marvin Records a few months ago, Tiwas Savage signed to Universal Music. However, before hitting stardom as a solo artist, she has been a backup singer for artists like Kelly Clarkson and George Michael. Tiwa Savage features in ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ alongside Mr. Eazi.
Definitely not a stranger to international collaborations, Mr. Eazi is the pioneer of Banku music. His music is a fusion of Nigerian chord and Ghanaian highlife. Expressing his joy on his Instagram page, the rising talent wrote, “Growing up I watched the @lionking but never imagined that someday I would be part of the project! Sending big Love to @beyonce for putting this project together! It bringing The World To Africa.” Mr. Eazi features on “Keys to the Kingdom” and “Don’t Jealous Me”.
After winning Peak Talent Show in 2009, Yemi Alade does not look like slowing down on her career. Famous for her hit single, “Johnny”, she also recently featured Rick Ross in ‘Oh My Gosh”. Yemi Alade also makes two appearances in The Lion King album. They are “My Power” and “Don’t Jealous Me”.
The 26-year-old singer is endearing for his dance moves. He received a BET nomination for the best African artist in 2017. His 2016 hit track, ‘Pana’ was signed for re-release by US-based Columbia Records. Tekno featured in the track “Don’t Jealous Me” on The Lion King album.
The rave of the moment and a 2019 BET award winner, Burner Boy is one of the best Afrobeat talents at the moment. Burna Boy has also worked with a number of international acts including Lily Allen. The superstar is stunned by the love of his music by westerners. He said, “It’s funny, most Americans don’t even understand what I’m saying in my records, but they pick up on the vibe, the vibration”. Burna Boy featured on the track ‘Ja Ara E’.
The sensational Ghanaian dancehall musician and producer is most famous for his track ‘Dancehall King’. Consequently, the track earned him the 2014 Artist of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards. He could not hide his joy and wrote on his Instagram page, “#Already is a banger. Thanks to the management of @beyonce and al the #Lionking team… And to all my African artists on the album, I love you all.” Shatta Wale appeared on the track ‘Already’ alongside Major Lazer and Beyoncé.
South African musician and dancer, Moonchild Sanelly is famous for her self-created genre, ‘Future ghetto punk’ and signature blue hair. Consequently, Sanelly took to Instagram to express her joy, “So honored to be a part of this magic.” She featured on the track ‘My Power’ on The Lion King album alongside Beyoncé, and Tierra Whack.
The Cameroonian singer, producer, writer, and performer is also the founder and CEO of Alpha Better Records. The musician shared the news on his Instagram page, “I can’t be grateful enough for all the support and trust y’all put in me. It was a pleasure working on this historic project on the song #Water alongside @beyonce & @pharrell.” He featured on the track ‘Water’ with Beyoncé and Pharrell.
The South African singer and poet came to prominence after her appearance on DJ Zinhle’s song, ‘My Name Is’. She also featured on The Lion King album on the track ‘My Power’.
Reactions to The Lion King Album
Many believe the album is Beyoncé’s attempt to get the world to listen to Africa. However, others believe she is just trying to recreate what Kendrick Lamar did with Black Panther. In Africa, the reactions have been all positive. Segun Akande, a music analyst says it shows the growing reputation of African music. Speaking to CNN, Mr. Akande said,
“Building a major release around Afrobeats as a movement and Afropop as a sound is a major cosign for what they’ve achieved. When you consider how big the Lion King franchise is, the album has the potential to put Afropop in the global conversation and introduce a younger generation across the world to our music.”