Like a pride of lions waiting for the return of the queen of the jungle, fans have been waiting for Queen Bey’s return to music and she delivered. Inspired by the new Disney film The Lion King, Beyoncé not only stars in the film and appears on the official movie soundtrack, she also executive produced and performed on a second album comprised of songs inspired by The Lion King and Africa. Like we said, Queen. Titled The Lion King: The Gift, the complimentary album dropped Thursday at midnight, arriving the same day The Lion King roars into theatres 25 years after the original animated film opened.
The Lion King: The Gift features new music from Beyoncé, as well as familiar names like Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Kid, Major Lazer, Jessie Reyez and Bey’s hubby Jay-Z. The couple’s eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, also makes an appearance on the soundtrack, performing alongside her mom in the stunning track “Brown Skinned Girls.” The 7-year-old also has a writing credit on the track and appears in Bey’s video for “Spirit,” the first single from the album, which dropped earlier this week. Mini mogul in the making, in case you had any doubt.
Beyoncé celebrates black women and namedrops famous faces in “Brown Skinned Girls,” including her Destiny’s Child bandmate Kelly Rowland, singing, “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.”
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Beyoncé’s co-star Donald Glover, who plays Simba to her Nala, has multiple numbers on the soundtrack and makes an appearance as his musical alter ego Childish Gambino with the actor, writer, and rapper performing on the song “Mood 4 Eva” with Bey and Jay.
Brampton native Jessie Reyez is the only Canadian to make the cut for the new album, with the singer celebrating her duet “Scar” with 070 Shake, in an excited, and highly relatable, Instagram post.
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The accompanying album includes many artists of African descent, with Beyoncé previously telling ABC’s Robin Roberts, “This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa, and I wanted to make sure we found the best talent from Africa, and not just use some of the sounds, and did my interpretation of it.”
The Lion King: The Gift also includes Tierra Whack, Shatta Wale, SAINt JHN, Salatiel, and English singer Raye, who was on the red carpet of The Lion King premiere in London when Beyoncé announced that her song “Bigger” would be the album opener. The Lion King soundtrack was released earlier this month and features re-recorded versions of the original film’s songs, including Elton John’s Oscar-winning “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”