Let’s talk about a woman who needs no introduction. A woman who started her career as a teen in one of the best-selling girl groups in history. A women who went on to have a solo career which has garnered more than 100 million album sales worldwide. A woman who through her music has told us to be independent, get in formation, and keep hot sauce in our bag. A woman who has done the damn thing time and time again and keeps us wanting more. Yes, I’m talking about Beyoncé.
In my humble opinion, literally any given time is a good time to talk about Beyoncé, but she has been popping off more than usual lately, so let’s get into it. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you may not be aware that Disney has been going on a rampage of turning their animated classics into blockbuster live-action films. They’ve redone everything from Beauty and the Beast to Aladdin (to arguably mixed reviews), and most recently have tackled The Lion King. In addition to having an all-star cast which includes everyone from Billy Eichner to Donald Glover, the newly revamped Lion King gifted us with an entire soundtrack heralded by none other than Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, who also plays Nala in the film.
Beyoncé has a pretty stellar track record as of the past decade when it comes to championing and uplifting voices of POC artists and creators, like Tofo Tofo, the Mozambican pantsula dancers who appeared in her 2011 “Run the World (Girls)” video or her 2018 Global Citizens Fest South Africa performance of “Halo” backed by Zulu vocals. This album is no different. In The Lion King: The Gift, which boasts nearly 100 million streams on Spotify alone, she sought out a plethora of African artists and producers to contribute. Artists from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Africa all contributed their unique, regional sounds to the record, which were merged with American styles to create something that both felt true to the spirit of the movie, and resonated with who Beyonce is as an artist.
Beyonce herself has referred to the album as “sonic cinema,” and I certainly don’t disagree. With interludes voiced by the likes of James Earl Jones and Beyonce herself, you’re transported directly to Pride Rock at the center of the cinematic Lion King universe. I admittedly have not seen the actual film yet (don’t yell at me! I’m holding out to see it with my brother, who was arguably the biggest Lion King stan circa the 1990s), but in listening to the album, I feel like I’ve seen (and heard) all I need to. It’s sonically expansive and ambitious in its production and is everything I could’ve hoped for in a Beyonce record, let alone a movie soundtrack. And I mean how cute is “Brown Skin Girl,” the most popular song on the record, which features vocals from Blue Ivy!
If it’s not enough to star in and soundtrack a movie which has grossed more than $1.3 billion at the box office, let’s throw in 6 Emmy nominations for a documentary film centered around a single, iconic performance at Coachella’s 2018 festival. And did I mention that a photo from her Vogue September 2018 cover shoot (shot by Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot a cover for Vogue) is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery?
Is there anything this woman can’t do?
WANT TO WRITE FOR US?