The Best Nigerian Moments On Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift”

July 19, 2019

The first few lines of Beyoncé’s hook on “Bigger“, the opener for her just-released “The Lion King: The Gift” tells you all you need to know about the album. “If you feel insignificant, you better think again,” she sings, “better wake up because you’re part of something way bigger, You’re part of something way bigger.” 

The album, which she says is a love letter to Africa was inspired by the Lion King franchise.

And as promised, the album is a celebration of African music. Beyoncé tapped the who’s who of Africa’s biggest musical movement, Afrobeats.

The list of collaborators — Shatta Wale, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Tekno, Tiwa Savage, Busiswa, Moonchild Sanelly, Bankulli, P2J, NorthBoi, GuiltyBeatz and many more — would make any African proud. From the tidal wave of pride sweeping through social media, the album’s Nigerian pop and Ghanaian Highlife influences have struck a chord, especially among West Africans.

It’s only fitting that we celebrate the Nigerian essence on Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift”. These are the 5 best Nigerian moments on a body of work that may be Afrobeats’ first true global moment.

  • WIZKID ON “BROWN SKIN GIRL” with Beyoncé, Saint Jhn & Blue Ivy Carter.

When fans first saw Wizkid on the tracklist for this album, familiar fears were raised. Wizkid has always been known for his melodies than any form of poignant songwriting, especially on an album packaged as a slice of African Pride. However, our fears were allayed on listening to the track. The ease with which Wizkid slotted his vocals into the beat is the level of comfort Nigerians should aspire to in these Buhari times.

The song is a celebration of Melanin and darker skin tones. Wizkid is not credited as one of the songwriters, unsurprisingly. But this matters only a little; Starboy focuses on his strengths and ends up nearly bodying everyone on the song, before rounding it off by harmonising with Queen B. Did you read that right? Wizkid, Baba Bolu, the patron saint of Nigerian gbedu flexed voices with Beyoncé on the best song off her new album. Wake me up. This has to be a dream. Hate him or love him, but Wizkid may have just crafted, with help, of course, an evergreen anthem for African women. What a time to be alive.

  • BANKULLI’s VOCALS

You may remember Bankulli as the chubby man screaming “Burna Boy, Call Me” in that viral video of Kanye West convulsing to “Ye”. Older fans may remember him as one of the first members of the Mo’ Hits team and the man who introduced D’banj to Kanye West thus kicking off the G.O.O.D Music/Mo’ Hits relationship. Long story short: Bankulli is an OG’s OG. On “The Lion King: The Gift“, Bankulli contributed writing and vocals to three songs. He’s the man responsible for the subtle ode to fuji music on “Find Your Way Back“. His best contribution to the album is arguably the spiritual outro on “OTHERSIDE“.

Sung in Yoruba, “Sokale o Oluwa, wa wonu okan mi lo” (“Descend from the heavens, Lord and take over my soul”) is a staple of Nigerian pentecostal church music that elevates just another Lion King song to a call to God. It’s safe to say that while the lineup is heavily Nigerian, Bankulli represented the culture in ways that no-one else did.

  • A NIGERIAN BEYONCÉ

It takes a lot to curate a culture you’re not actively invested in. Sure, Beyoncé’s romance with Nigerian culture, especially the goddesses Osun and Yemoja is well documented. But what she achieves on “The Lion King: The Gift” is immense. She fits seamlessly into traditional Afropop & Ghana Highlife production on most songs and morphs into a soulful westernized Tope Alabi on “OTHERSIDE”, so well that when Bankulli’s vocals come in, she’s family.

Beyoncé’s romance with Nigerian culture, especially the goddesses Osun and Yemoja is well documented.

The most Nigerian version of Beyoncé comes on “ALREADY” featuring Shatta Wale. From her enunciation to how she interpolates melodies, you can almost swear she’s been listening to Yemi Alade. Queen B has delivered her love letter to Nigeria, maybe it’s time to come show that love in person.

  • EVERY TIME WE HEARD AFROPOP BEATS AND MELODIES

For decades now, producers have been the unsung heroes of Afropop’s evolution and subsequent journey to global recognition. In the last few years, producers like Sarz and DJ Maphorisa have gotten global recognition, but these were more of sporadic cosigns than full recognition of their abilities. Beyoncé’s “The Gift” may as well be that moment. It may have taken longer than expected for Nigerian/UK producer, P2J to get his coins and roses, but with credits on multiple songs off the album, it’s fair to say the man has etched his name in history.

NorthBoi Oracle, who produced Starboy’s “Soco” is also credited as a producer on the album and that’s not counting the back-end creatives — Michael Uzowuru, Bankulli, and more — who built what is a cinematic African experience. Much has been said of Afrobeats’ journey to global acceptance. This album, which may become its biggest moment yet, is evidence of how much collaboration and years of work behind the scenes we’ll need to make it happen.

Who’s the only artist with his own full song on an album made, curated and executive produced by the biggest musician in the world? That’s right, our very own Damini Ogulu aka Burna Boy. Rankin’s ascent to the upper echelons of afrobeats and world music since the release of 2018’s “Outside” is one for the storybooks.

Many have guessed that Burna refused to have anybody else on his song, others claim no-one was a good fit; whatever the case is, you can see why Burna Boy is in a class of his own, literally. “JA ARA E” is another tribute to Fela’s Afrobeat, a very apt allusion in an album about African pride. The title, which means “Enlighten Yourself” is also consistent with Burna Boy’s Pan-African ideals. This song sounds like the soundtrack to the radicalisation of Simba and is already a fan favourite. With what we’ve heard so far, we simply can’t wait for Burna Boy’s “African Giant“. 

Speaking of evolution, one artiste who is an unsung hero on this album is Zlatan. Artists enjoying a breakout year have the capacity to do anything from changing the popular sound to creating sub genres of their own. In the year since he released “My Body” w/ Olamide and caught the attention of Nigerian singer Davido, Zlatan has done both.

Zlatan’s friendship with Burna gave him his biggest hit yet, “Killin Dem” and stamped him in the eyes of a mainstream audience. In turn, Zlatan’s edge and energy have found a willing vessel in Burna, who dances the Zanku like he came up with it.

Fans have hailed Burna’s loyalty to his personal sound on the Beyonce album. And the best evidence of Zlatan’s influence yet is how his ad-libs spice up Burna Boy’s “JA ARA E”. Those shouts of Kuronbe and Eh Eh are dominating Nigerian airwaves for months now. They’ve made their way to a Beyonce album. Agege must be proud.

It’s a great time to be African.


Did you enjoy this? You should sign up for our weekly pop culture newsletter, Poppin’. You’ll get to know what we’re up to before anyone else + insider gist, reviews, freebies and more. If it sounds like your deal, sign up here.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

April 20, 2020

Sarkodie — “Overload 2” ft. Oxlade Even if he wasn’t one of the most talented artists out of Africa, Sarkodie would still have a special place in the hearts of Nigerians, thanks to just how frequently he collaborates with our biggest and best stars. For his latest in a long line of memorable team-ups, the […]

February 5, 2021

Last year, Netflix finally and officially came to Nigeria. This means they opened a social media account dedicated to Nigerian content on their streaming service and increased their Nigerian content on the service as well as commissioned more Netflix Originals to be made. However, the sheer number of movies and shows on Netflix are overwhelming […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

November 30, 2019

With No Nut November FINALLY coming to an end, we’ve decided to mark the torturous month with some more horny content. After quizzes that guessed how many people you’ve slept with, how good you are in bed and who you’ll sleep with next, this one will guess when next you’ll get lucky. Take it to […]

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

More from Pop

February 2, 2023

From Lagos to Atlanta, fans never stop comparing and pitting their faves against each other. Just like Rihanna can’t beat the Beyoncé comparisons 17 years into her awe-inspiring career, Davido still gets Wizkid comparisons daily despite just a year between their debut. Similarly, Seyi Shay was compared to Tiwa Savage when she came out with […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X