Beyoncé's The Gift made me proud to be unapologetically black
Although I was only one when Disney’s The Lion King premiered, it honestly turned out to be one of the greatest films to bless my younger years.
When I heard about the 2019 remake and the star-studded cast that would bring my childhood friends to life, I was overjoyed.
I was most excited to hear that Beyoncé was playing Nala and equally thrilled to learn she’d be producing a soundtrack featuring some of Africa’s most significant musicians, conquering the world with their sounds.
The Lion King: The Gift – it truly is – is a collection of music inspired by the classic Disney film, which Beyoncé has called ‘a love letter to Africa.’ Truly, the album did not fall short of this.
The Gift has 27 songs, which feature globally recognised talents such as Wiz Kid, Burna Boy, Tekno, Tiwa Savage and more.
As a woman from Africa – Nigeria to be precise – the album made me feel proud to be unapologetically black. I felt overwhelmed to see artists who put my heritage on the map on an album with one of the most influential female singers in the world.
The entire album embodies and evokes what being black truly is about: power, strength, beauty and perseverance.
Songs such as Ja ara e, Don’t Jealous Me and Keys To The Kingdom display how triumphant it is to break free from societal barriers and own the skin we are in.
Tiwa sang in Yoruba, one of many popular languages in Nigeria, saying ‘Omo oba ma gba gbe, run ti oruko Baba re’ meaning: Son of the king, don’t you forget, remember your father’s name.’
These lyrics alone empower me and inspire me to remember my heritage and embrace the story that makes me who I am today.
What struck me most was the song Brown Skin Girl sung youthfully by Blue Ivy. The catchy chorus describes how beautiful our melanated skin truly is.
Growing up in white spaces, many black girls find that they have to prove their worthiness to fit into places that we are equipped for. We have to work harder than the average person to prove we are at least half as good as a white female.
I remember being a little girl asking my mother why I couldn’t be white, but I couldn’t quite figure out the reasons as to why I thought like this. I remembered feeling dissatisfied about how I was treated.
‘Your skin just like pearls,’ sings Queen Bey. It is a powerful reminder that black skin is truly beautiful.
It’s precious that Beyoncé is educating seven-year-old Blue Ivy that her brown skin ‘is the best thing in the world’. Even as the daughter of one of the biggest stars in the world, she also needs reminding to that black is beautiful. No amount of fame or money can escape prejudice black women face.
For decades black people have been subtly and explicitly punished for the colour of their skin. That’s why ‘Brown Skin Girl’ is tremendously important to young girls of today. Not only does the song put black women on the forefront, it also dives into the much neglected topic of colourism.
‘There’s complexities like complexion, but your skin glows like diamonds,’ she sings. With shout outs to Naomi Campbell, Lupita, Kelly Rowland, my heart burst with enormous level of happiness.
It’s no secret that mainstream media continues to ignore women who have dark complexions so Beyoncé putting them on a pedestal, especially on an album that will be listened to by small black girls from around the world, is something I will forever appreciate her for.
I can only imagine how I would have felt hearing this song as a young girl. In a weird way, I feel like this was a gift from Africans to the Western world, seeing as our music isn’t mainstream.
I truly appreciate Beyoncé for highlighting the important role African musicians have played in society. She has pushed the exposure and the sultry sounds of Africa to a wider audience, which I am proud of.
The compilation of this album is the perfect blend Afrobeats and the Afro-diasporic through Queen Bey.
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