Beyoncé’s best qualities are perhaps her ability to capitalise off every opportunity she is presented with as well as benefitting the black community in any way she can. This was brought to life in her homage to HBCUs and is seen again in her new album The Lion King: The Gift. A childhood favourite is being re-made by Disney, and Beyoncé took this opportunity to be more than just the voice of Nala. As executive producer of this album she gathered several black artists, many of them African, to participate in this piece of art. Although this project is separate from the official soundtrack, interludes of scenes from the movie serve as a reminder that this project was inspired by the Pride Lands.Beyoncé described this project as ‘a love letter to Africa’ which is evident in not only the artists selected but also the sounds presented. Choosing some of the biggest names in Afrobeats was definitely a wise choice and so was giving them the creative freedom to present their authentic sounds, with Beyoncé adopting several aspects of this sound herself, as in the track Already. Also authentic to the Afrobeat sound are native languages which appear on many tracks such as Ja Ara E, Keys to the Kingdom and My Power. This project has managed to preserve the authenticity of Afrobeats as well as merge it with other sounds.
Family is also a big theme in this project, with Beyoncé singing directly to her children on Bigger and about her father on Find Your Way Back. This theme is one that is of great importance to the film as the relationship between Mufasa, Simba and Scar is central to the storyline. Hope as well as pride is presented in connection with family. Beyoncé also directly involves her family in this project with features of Jay Z and Blue Ivy (or was it Blue Ivy ft Beyoncé?).The Pride Lands also represent an extension of the idea of family through the concept of community. This was well explored in the visuals. The video for Spirit and Bigger displayed the dancers in graceful unity which presents the idea that a community can be just like, and perhaps even better than, a family. In addition, the natural imagery was an ode to the scenes in the film and to the continent of Africa.
Ultimately this project is a journey, as in the film itself, of personal growth. The discovery of self and ascension to the throne are clearly presented through both the music and the interludes chosen. What I also love is that Beyoncé was willing to take a step back and not be featured on every track. You can really feel the joy and pride through the music.