Why Beyoncé loaded ‘Lion King’ soundtrack with Nigerian stars

Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Burna Boy, others featured on Disney movie-inspired album



Over two decades after the original movie’s release, Disney in continuance of their trend of making live-action versions of animated classics, have released ‘The Lion King’. To accompany the release, Grammy award-winning artist Beyoncé produced a 14-track album titled ‘The Lion King: The Gift.’ The star, also in the movie’s cast, has four solo songs on the album alongside collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and even her daughter, Blu Ivy.

Beyoncé also revealed why she handpicked Nigerian singers, including some other African ones, to feature on her album inspired by the live action version of Disney’s ‘The Lion King’, currently showing in cinemas. Produced by the global superstar herself, the collection is chock-full of Afrobeats artists including Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Wizkid, and Mr. Eazi. Music enthusiasts are gushing about it, saying it just might be the necessary ingredient to push the Nigerian variety of music onto the mainstream US music scene.

Titled ‘Lion King: The Gift’, the album will also feature Ghanaian and South African stars, as well as US big-name artistes Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, and Kendrick Lamar.

Beyoncé, who voices the beloved character Nala in the movie, described the soundtrack as “a love letter to Africa”. She added that she wanted to make sure they found the best talent from Africa, and not just use some of the sounds. “I wanted it to be authentic to what is beautiful about the music in Africa,” she said in an interview with ABC TV.

Wizkid, one of the featured artistes, has had success in the US mainstream scene since 2016, appearing on Drake’s Afrobeats-tinged hit ‘One Dance’, topping Billboard’s U.S Hot 100 chart.

The controversially-named Afrobeats has a sound that is club-friendly, featuring a mix of West African rhythms and hip hop, which began to grow in Lagos. It has since evolved into a major force, making its way into mainstream pop culture around the world.

The album ‘Lion King: The Gift’ was released on Thursday, 18 July, and is available across a number of major digital platforms, as well as on CD.


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