On Friday 19 July 2019 Beyoncé’s Lion King inspired album, “The Lion King: The Gift” was released. According to Billboard’s Chart Beat it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 Chart and looks set to skyrocket the way Lemonade did.
On this album Queen Bey searched for African collaborators and hooked up to make music with these amazing female artists: Yemi Alade , Busiswa and Moonchild Sanelly. These women have shattered any notion of a glass ceiling for African female performers. During Women’s month in August we salute them and all the other warrior women lifting each other up and changing the world.
Nigerian born Yemi Alade comes from humble beginnings but has risen to be an “African giant” in her own right. In her groundbreaking album “Mama Africa” she created a unique mash up dance music style described as, “Coupé-décalé.. American hip-hop and pop, in a sharpening of sounds.. Afropolitan.”
But being sought out as a collaborator by Beyoncé (who she reveres) was a game-changer. Alade features in two tracks on The Gift, “Don’t Jealous Me” and “My Power”. Asked about the how the music business in Africa was evolving she says: “In Nigeria, most people have realised that you must be more than just an artist. We have to fund our projects, fund our personal lives, so we are already entrepreneurs.” Just another reason why we love her.
Our very own talented South African Busiswa says of her Queen Bey collab, “It’s not something I saw coming, especially this year. I am just honoured and grateful, because I understand the impact that this album has globally.” She’s also part of the “My Power,” track – which is described as a “female anthem – along with Beyoncé, Tierra Whack, Alade, Moonchild Sanelly and Nija.
Giving the song some seriously strong local flavour Busiswa sings her verse in Zulu, which adds to the power of the rap beat. “I am glad they chose the verse they did,” she says, “All I wanted to do was create a verse that South Africa could be proud of. That everyone could hear and know this is us, this is who we are. That it is original. That it is South African… I feel like a proud daughter of Mzansi right now.”
“I have no words to explain and express my gratitude for being one of the chosen ones for the Lion King soundtrack, by my ultimate favourite artist in the world,” says Moonchild Sanelly about being part of Beyoncés African co-lab.
Moonchild is greatly loved here in her home country of South Africa and her infectious sound is now officially global for everyone to adore. “I was just like I have to give it my everything,” Moonchild told Essence Magazine, “I added the final parts to [My Power] and have been over the moon since knowing who I was doing this with and for.”
Mzansi Youth Choir
The last (unexpected) collaboration which we really love on The Gift album is with the Mzansi Youth Choir. The choir also performed with Beyoncé at the Global Citizen concert in Sowetho, Johannesburg last year but they had no idea they were going to be included on the soundtrack.
“We received the news on the day of the release and it was such an honour for us,” says the choir’s Musical Director, James Bassingthwaighte. “We knew we were working on a big project and with an international artist, but we had no idea it was Beyoncé. The choir is so excited.”
A Love Letter to Africa
Beyoncé said of The Gift that, “This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa, and I wanted to make sure that we found the best talent from Africa… It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me.”
It’s a thrilling time to be part of the further rise of the warrior women of Africa. Watch this space for Matoyana’s unique collaboration (and celebration) of women over the coming months.