According to Beyonce, the album focused on Africa because: “I wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline. Each song was written to reflect the film’s storytelling that gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery while listening to a new contemporary interpretation.
“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”.
While some claim it’s a 'quantum leap' and a push for afrobeats (the most popular African music genre), others suggest African representation on the project was inequitable.
Victoria Kimani, a popular Kenyan singer who has worked with Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie, was the first top celebrity to question African representation on “The Lion King” inspired album which was released Friday, July 19, 2019. The album features Shatta Wale and six Nigerian stars; Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Tekno, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage.
In a Twitter rant, the “Wash It” singer bemoaned the zero appearance of East African artistes on the project. For her, the absence of the musicians in her region was in a bad taste because the concept behind “The Lion King” emerges from Kenya.
“Ya’lll coulda atleast [sic] had Lupita or Barack on the outro 🇰🇪 since we don’t have artists in East Africa”, she tweeted.
“As much as we celebrate with our fellow Africans .... The obvious exclusion of Kenyans / East Africans on this Soundtrack is Depressing...The movie was based on KENYA.”
BuzzFeed reporter Ade Anibada stepped in to school her about the project: “Just to clarify, this project is incorrectly being referred to as the soundtrack for the film but it isn't that. The Lion King soundtrack exists and this project has been curated by Beyoncé separately.”
But she insisted: “That’s fine... Our Queen forgot about the US. WE were not represented in her love letter to us. It hurts. That’s all.”
She later 'accused' a Twitter user of misinforming Beyonce’ about African artistes. “Stop slandering my Queen! She loves us ....im sure she was misinformed by one of you but...carry on wit ya shade and keep that same energy”.
Then lost her cool, clearly frustrated. “I wonder what makes people so mean spirited and angry hearted ....what happened to us loving one another equally and have compassion.”
Ghanaian rapper M.anifest waded in on the heated argument with an indirect response which seems to be the solution. The “god MC” rapper is of the view that ‘crabs in a barrel shouldn't quarrel’.
He averred that he has so many questions but what matters is the current African representation on Beyonce’s project.
“Saw a tweet with a sistren from the east saying she's tired of Africa's representation being two countries in the west and one in the south. There are so many questions I have. But 1st.. how long have we had representation to even be tired. Crabs in a barrel shouldn't quarrel...” he tweeted.
“Sometimes you have to figure out how not to be in the barrel. And if you can don't be a crab”, he added.
The hubbub regarding the whole album cannot be despised outrightly however, what matters is the fact that Beyoncé wrote a “love letter” to her root: Africa. The focus going forward should be on creating more connections with Africans in the diaspora making it huge on the international market. The internal wranglings, petty rifts and the back-and-forth among Africans will in no way project our artistes – instead, we expose ourselves to the western world. In short, we will be Aunt Sally.