The Lion King: The Gift

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The Lion King: The Gift
The Lion King The Gift.png
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 19, 2019
Recorded2019
StudioNRG, Africa
Genre
Length54:00
Label
Producer
Beyoncé chronology
Homecoming: The Live Album
(2019)
The Lion King: The Gift
(2019)
Singles from The Lion King: The Gift
  1. "Spirit"
    Released: July 10, 2019
  2. "Brown Skin Girl"
    Released: July 23, 2019[2]
  3. "Mood 4 Eva"
    Released: September 11th, 2019

The Lion King: The Gift is a soundtrack album by American singer Beyoncé for the 2019 photorealistic animated remake of The Lion King.[3][4][5] It was released on July 19 by Parkwood under exclusive license to Columbia.[1] The album was produced and curated by Beyoncé and includes appearances from Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Pharrell Williams, Kendrick Lamar, Tierra Whack, 070 Shake, Blue Ivy Carter and Jessie Reyez, as well as African artists such as Shatta Wale, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, Yemi Alade and Busiswa, among others.[6][7]

Background[edit]

On July 9, 2019, it was revealed that Beyoncé produced and curated an album titled The Lion King: The Gift, which features new songs inspired by the film, as well as "Spirit" from the soundtrack.[8]

Beyoncé called the album "sonic cinema" and said that the film "is a new experience of storytelling", and that the album "is influenced by everything from R&B, pop, hip hop and Afrobeat".[8] Beyoncé also said that "[she] wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline" and that the songs were inspired by the remake's storyline, which "gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery, while listening to a new contemporary interpretation".[8] The songs were also produced by African producers, which Beyoncé said was because "authenticity and heart were important to [her]", since the film is set in Africa.[8]

The tracklist was revealed through Beyoncé's official website on July 16, 2019.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic77/100[10]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[11]
Consequence of SoundB-[12]
Entertainment WeeklyB-[13]
The Guardian3/5 stars [14]
HipHopDX4.3/5 [15]
NME3/5 stars[16]
New York Times(positive) [17]
Pitchfork7.3/10[18]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[19]
The Telegraph4/5 stars[20]

Describing it as an album "that ably displays [Beyoncé’s] excellent taste, rather than a great Beyoncé album per se," Alexis Petridis of The Guardian writes that The Lion King: The Gift "feels like an alternative soundtrack" to the original score, and that opening tracks "Bigger" and "Find Your Way Back" "seem like riffs on Circle of Life" from the 1994 film.[21]

"Beyoncé's Lion King album is the event the movie wishes it could be," writes Carl Wilson of Slate Magazine, arguing that The Gift "works best if you forget the remake even exists" and encouraging listeners to "take it more as a (mildly) new perspective on Beyoncé" since thematically the album "transliterates the leonine royal-family drama and 'circle of life' worldview of [the movie] into the recent main leitmotif of Beyoncé's own work."[22]

"An ambitious companion album that says more than the movie does about family and tradition and responsibility and Africa", writes Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times. "No one takes possession of a cultural space like Beyoncé. We saw it happen in 2016 when she easily outshone Coldplay during its own Super Bowl halftime performance. We saw it happen last year when she remade the world’s most prestigious music festival as Beychella. Now we’re seeing it again with Disney’s new version of “The Lion King".[23]

Writing for Variety, A. D. Amorosi says the album’s "warm production washes and anthemic musicality may not have the same avant-garde sway or weird rhythmic kink of its immediate aforementioned predecessors [Beyoncé's Lemonade and Homecoming: The Live Album and The Carters' Everything Is Love] but what The Lion King: The Gift misses in messiness, it makes up for in flavor, heart and grandeur without treacle."[24]

Writing for The Telegraph, Neil McCormick says, "The Gift is a quixotic compilation of tracks".[25]

Bernadette Giacomazzo of HipHopDX also praised the album, saying that the album "trips the black fantastic" and that many songs were capable of standing independent of the film. Drawing comparisons to the Black Panther soundtrack "down to the Kendrick Lamar appearance," Giacomazzo says that the album is "one of the first Beyoncé albums — such as it were — in which Mrs. Carter’s creativity serves as a vector to another creative vision, rather than as the creative vision itself. Overall, it works and is another jewel in her crown — one that she, overall, can be proud to call hers. Long live the Queen."[26]

Commercial performance[edit]

The Lion King: The Gift debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 54,000 album-equivalent units, of which 11,000 were pure album sales.[27]

It became Beyoncé's second top 10 debut of 2019 (following Homecoming: The Live Album) and third top 10 album of 2019 (after Lemonade re-entered the Billboard 200 chart following its wide streaming release). It is also the ninth top 10 album of Beyoncé's solo career.[28]

On the Billboard genre charts, The Lion King: The Gift debuted at number one on several charts including Top R&B Albums, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Top Soundtrack Albums and Top World Albums. It became Beyoncé's seventh number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart as a solo artist.[29][30]

Impact[edit]

African musicians and producers who worked on The Lion King: The Gift, amongst others, have spoken about the impact that the album will have on African music in the United States. Ghanian producer Guilty Beatz said "Now that Beyoncé released a whole album [of African music], this will open the gateway" for those sounds to enter the American market; Nigerian singer Yemi Alade added that the album will be "another awakening".[31] Nigerian producer P2J described how the album is "going to change the face of music", adding that "Brown Skin Girl" is "one of the first songs in my career that I thought was going to be very special... It's a big moment for Africa."[32] South African artist DJ Lag said that the album has "opened doors" for him and that the sound of The Lion King: The Gift is "going to be the next big thing."[33] Bloomberg's Anthony Osae-Brown stated that with The Lion King: The Gift, Beyoncé is taking the "Nigeria music scene global".[34] Director of Urban Music at YouTube Tuma Basa called the release of The Lion King: The Gift "a tipping-point moment", while Nigerian producer E-Kelly said that it "is gonna create a new awareness" and "open a big crack" for Afrobeat to enter American mainstream music.[35]

The track "Brown Skin Girl" inspired a viral trend called "#brownskingirlchallenge", where black women and girls post pictures and videos of themselves in celebration of their skin,[36][37] as well as people encouraging their young family members to be proud of their skin.[38][39] Celebrities including Ava DuVernay, Rep. Barbara Lee, Gabrielle Union and Lupita Nyong'o participated in the trend.[40] Several thinkpieces and articles were also produced in response to "Brown Skin Girl".[41][42][43]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[44]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Balance (Mufasa Interlude)" (performed by James Earl Jones)Jeff Nathanson
0:43
2."Bigger" (performed by Beyoncé)
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
3:46
3."The Stars (Mufasa Interlude)" (performed by James Earl Jones)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:46
4."Find Your Way Back (Circle of Life)" (performed by Beyoncé)
  • Beyoncé
  • Bubele Boii
  • Magwenzi
  • Dixie[b]
  • Guilty Beatz[b]
2:42
5."Uncle Scar (Scar Interlude)" (performed by Chiwetel Ejiofor)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:13
6."Don't Jealous Me" (performed by Tekno, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi)
  • Beyoncé
  • P2J
  • Dixie[b]
2:35
7."Danger (Young Simba & Young Nala Interlude)" (performed by JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:16
8."Ja Ara E" (performed by Burna Boy)
  • Beyoncé
  • P2J
  • Dixie[b]
3:10
9."Run Away (Scar & Young Simba Interlude)" (performed by JD McCrary and Chiwetel Ejiofor)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:29
10."Nile" (performed by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar)
  • Beyoncé
  • Sounwave
  • Johnny Kosich
  • Carter
  • Keanu Beats
1:47
11."New Lesson (Timon, Pumbaa & Young Simba Interlude)" (performed by Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen and JD McCrary)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:53
12."Mood 4 Eva" (performed by Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Childish Gambino featuring Oumou Sangaré)4:32
13."Reunited (Nala & Simba Interlude)" (performed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Donald Glover)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:09
14."Water" (performed by Salatiel, Pharrell and Beyoncé)
  • Beyoncé
  • P2J
2:32
15."Brown Skin Girl" (performed by Beyoncé, Saint Jhn and Wizkid featuring Blue Ivy Carter)
  • Beyoncé
  • P2J
  • Dixie[b]
4:08
16."Come Home (Nala Interlude)" (performed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:14
17."Keys to the Kingdom" (performed by Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi)
  • Beyoncé
  • Kim Krysiuk
  • Rickie Tice
  • A. King
  • Tiwatope Savage
  • Dixie
  • Gerald White
  • Irosogie
  • Rich King
  • Ajibade
  • Ronald Banful
  • Isong
  • Beyoncé
  • Northboi Oracle
  • Guilty Beatz[a]
  • P2J[a]
  • Dixie[a]
3:18
18."Follow Me (Rafiki Interlude)" (performed by Donald Glover and John Kani)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:31
19."Already" (performed by Beyoncé, Shatta Wale and Major Lazer)
  • Beyoncé
  • Diplo
  • Picard Brothers
  • Guilty Beatz[a]
3:42
20."Remember (Mufasa Interlude)" (performed by James Earl Jones)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:45
21."Otherside" (performed by Beyoncé)
  • Beyoncé
  • Nicky Davey
  • Syd
  • Dixie[b]
3:39
22."War (Nala Interlude)" (performed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:18
23."My Power" (performed by Tierra Whack, Beyoncé, Moonchild Sanelly and Nija)
  • Beyoncé
  • Busiswa Gqulu
  • Alade
  • Sanelisiwe Twisha
  • Charles
  • Andrews
  • Coney
  • Lwazi Gwala
  • Beyoncé
  • DJ Lag
  • Moses Boyd
4:19
24."Surrender (Simba & Scar Interlude)" (performed by Donald Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:14
25."Scar" (performed by 070 Shake and Jessie Reyez)
3:06
26."I'm Home (Mufasa, Sarabi & Simba Interlude)" (performed by James Earl Jones, Alfre Woodard and Donald Glover)Nathanson
  • Beyoncé
  • Dixie
0:43
27."Spirit" (performed by Beyoncé)
4:33
Total length:54:00

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies a miscellaneous producer
  • ^[c] signifies an uncredited additional producer
  • ^[*] credited on the extended version of the song
  • All song titles are stylized in all caps
  • All interlude titles are stylized in all lowercase
  • "Bigger" features vocals by Raye
  • "Spirit" features background vocals by Labrinth, Ilya, Jamal Moore, Maurice Smith, J Rome, Derrick Charles, DeP, George Young, Vernon Burris, TJ Wilkins, Andre Washington, Mabvuto Carpenter, Jason Morales, Johnny Gilmore, Stevie Notes, Marcus Eldridge, Edward Lawson, and Steve Epting
  • "My Power" features uncredited vocals by Busiswa

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[45]

Musicians[edit]

  • String section (tracks 1, 2)
    • Adrienne Woods, Bianca McClure, Chelsea Stevens, Crystal Alforque, Jonathan Richards, Marta Honer, Rhea Hosanny, Stephanie Matthews, Stephanie Yu, Tahirah Whittington
  • Pino Palladino - bass (track 15)
  • Courtney Leonard - bass (track 17)
  • Rod Castro - guitar (track 17)
  • Ari PenSmith - keyboards (track 25)
  • Derek Dixie - drums (track 27)
  • Ilya - drums, keyboards, percussion (track 27)
  • Labrinth - drums, keyboards, percussion (track 27)
  • Jeremy Lertola - percurssion (track 27)
  • Jeff Lorber - piano (track 27)
  • David Fleming - strings (track 27)

Charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Peak
US Billboard World Albums[46] 1
US Billboard Top R&B Albums[47] 1
Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[48] 12
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[49] 37
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[50] 12
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[51] 36
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[52] 4
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[53] 9
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[54] 3
French Albums (SNEP)[55] 28
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[56] 48
Italian Albums (FIMI)[57] 39
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[58] 16
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[59] 11
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[60] 88
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[61] 22
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[62] 20
US Billboard 200[27] 2
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[63] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[64] 1

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