Beyoncé – The Lion King: The Gift Review…

My review on Beyonce’s latest project.

Beyoncé recently blessed us with an album inspired by the newest remake of Lion King. It’s so good to hear new music from Beyoncé but even more exciting to hear she took a different approach to the music this time.

The album is mixed with interlude’s with clips from the film as well as new original songs with Beyoncé and some of the best African singers. I’m gonna talk about some of the songs that gripped me the most.

Beyoncé – BIGGER

This is a great intro track as it really does soothe us in. To me, this song feels personal to Beyoncé herself as well as relating to the Lion King and it’s surrounding themes. She mentions “Trying to be a good wife, still really hard, I can’t lie” matches some of the content in some of her other songs. The idea that not everything is as easy and nice as it looks, in life there are challenges and we have to go through them. I feel that for this song Beyoncé encourages us all to see we are “part of something way bigger” in the sense that there is so much more to life. This relates to a scene in the film where Mufasa tells Simba something similar. Have a listen to the song below:

Beyoncé – DON’T JEALOUS ME Ft. Tekno, Yemi Alade & Mr Eazi

This is the first feature of Africa on the album and the song features 3 Nigerian artists. As a Nigerian myself, this of course is one of my favourite songs. From the first second I feel the African drums and you know this is going to be a good song. Throughout the song Tekno says “Sheep don’t run with lion…Snake don’t swing with monkey” which makes me laugh as it is such a typical Nigerian/African saying to have. The song also features a bit of Igbo (A Nigerian language) and Pidgin language. Yemi Alade starts her verse saying “Oh Oh Odogwu (Odogwu), abeg make them talk” which is a reference to a man in a high position, she is asking him. The song does not actually feature Beyoncé vocals which is even more refreshing. I say refreshing because it is nice for Beyoncé on her own album to give the stage to others to showcase their talents too. I like how respectful and inviting she has been in regards to Africa for this album.

Burna Boy – JA ARA E

Yet again, Beyoncé passes on the stage to someone else and in this case it is Nigerian superstar Burna Boy. For anyone that is not familiar with him, please search him up and look into his own music, for me he is one of the best current Nigerian artists. In this song Burna Boy does his thing while referencing “watch out them for them hyenas” which could be very ambiguous. It could be literally in reference to the film as they are the ones that caused the most trouble. In addition to that it could be a reference to life, where people who are like the hyenas are those that look forward to your weakness in order to pounce and take advantage. Stay away from people like that. The title of the song is a Yoruba term meaning “wise up” which could mean stay alert at all times and be prepared.

Beyoncé Ft. Jay Z & Childish Gambino– MOOD 4 EVA

This is a celebratory anthem that I love! Personally I don’t think Jay Z was really needed on the project however it would be strange to have a Beyoncé project without her featuring her husband. The song features an intro from another African star, this time coming from Mali, singer Oumou Sangare. In the song Beyoncé sings “‘Cause every day above ground is a blessing” and Amen to that! In Hov’s verse, he name drops some of the legends; Nelson Mandela, Nigerian artist Fela Kuti as well as Biggie and Prince. The song is just a feel good anthem, perfect for the summer!

Beyoncé Ft Wizkid, SAINt JHN & Blue Ivy Carter- BROWN SKIN GIRL

Where do I even start with this song?! Before I even get into the lyrics, I just want to point out that for me, this song has one of my favourite productions. The beat is so simple but so effective. I’ve seen so many challenges where young girls have been dancing to this song and I can see exactly why they love it. It is such a feel good song to heat. I know this is one of the most popular songs from the project and with good reason. This album as a whole I feel, was a way for Beyoncé to pay homage to the African culture which inspired Lion King. This song pays homage to black women and brown skin, dark skin women in particular. Beyoncé wants these women to embrace and be proud of their skin and celebrate it. I love how she puts her daughter Blue Ivy in the song as she sings; “Brown skin girl, your skin just like pearls” to give it a more personal touch. Beyoncé also name drops some dark skin celebrities; “Pose like a trophy when Naomi‘s walk in, she need an Oscar for that pretty dark skin. Pretty like Lupita when the cameras close in…Drip broke the levee when my Kellys’ roll in”. Those that are young listening to this song can know there are so many role models that look exactly like them which could comfort them.  

There are so many beautiful words Beyoncé sings in this song. One of my favourite lines is when she says “Melanin too dark to throw her shade” and “Same skin that was broken be the same skin takin’ over“. That last quote is so powerful, it shows the contrast between the way black skin was discriminated against leading all the way back to slavery and now when you look at countries such as America (even with those she name dropped as examples) we are now “taking over”.

Personally when I first heard the song I felt very emotional because I know the criticism and isolation many brown/dark skin women have faced growing up. This song is a perfect love song to them with the lesson to be proud of who they are. This is such a powerful and uplifting song that I hope is played for many generations to give hope and confidence to future ‘Brown Skin Girls’. Have a listen below:

Tiwa Savage Ft. Mr Eazi – KEYS TO THE KINGDOM

Nigerian matriarch Tiwa Savage takes control of this song. It took me a few listens to get into it but now I feel it’s a song that you can have playing in the background and just vibe along to it. I like Mr Eazi’s addition to the song too.

Beyoncé Ft. Shatta Wale & Major Lazer – ALREADY

YES!!!!! This song is such an anthem!!!! I LOVE how dedicated Beyoncé was to incorporating an African sound in her own voice with this song. It just shows her versatility just in case people ever doubted her. The way she pronounces and emphasises the word “Already” is such an African way. African’s will hear it but it may go over the head of others. The song features Ghanaian star Shatta Wale and American dance trio Major Lazer. Since listening to the album, this song has been on rotation! The song has references to Lion King where Beyonceé sings “Long live the king” which is what Rafiki says to Simba. Shatta Wale had a blast on this song and his addition really added an authentic vibe to the song. I will definitely be playing this song for a long while to come. Have a listen below:

Beyoncé – SPIRIT

I really REALLY like this song. I feel this is one of my favourite ballads from Beyoncé in general. The song exudes so much raw emotion from me and gives me a sense of spiritual energy. Listening to this song for the first time literally made me weepy and I have no idea why. Beyonce’s voice in this song is just out of this world, I can’t even express the power. The video is just as beautiful and having watched the video before I saw the film, when I saw the exact scene in the film, it had a different meaning for me. The song is extremely uplifting too; “Your destiny is comin’ close, stand up and fi-i-i-ight” meaning never give up! If there was ever a doubt that Beyoncé has one of the most incredible voices in our lifetime, this song will put that debate to bed. Beautiful, beautiful song.

I also recently read a beautiful review on this album via the newspaper ‘The Metro’. Have a read below:

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New Music: What I’ve been listening to this week:

New Music: Songs I’ve had on repeat this week…

Russ Ft. Davido

US singer/rapper Russ is back with another song I love! This time he links up with Nigerian singer Davido, Mr ‘Thirty Billion’ himself! There are so many reasons why this song works. Firstly I love how Russ attempts to try Pidgin English (a common dialect spoken in Nigeria), even Yoruba! I also like how he incorporates Nigerian references in the song. His references seem to be like paying homage rather than a forced idea. Although, He does say “Abuja” in a funny way! I had to rewind it to make sure thats what he wanted to say! He tried though! Secondly! The video is filled with Black women of all shades! I love that! Of course Davido does no wrong with his feature as expected! I have been singing “All I want is you” since I heard the song as well as “Don’t divide us girl abeg ooohhh”. The video had over a million views in less than 48 hours!! Have a listen and watch the video below:

Stormzy – Vossi Bop

THE WICKED SKENGMAN IS BACKKKKK!!! LIVE IN THE FLESH!!!! After what has felt like a very long time…UK rapper Stormzy has come back and hit us with a hit. The song was actually started off over 3 years ago via a guy on Twitter called Vossi who was doing a dance to Young Thug’s song “Check” which he called the “Vossi Bop”. Stormzy loved the video at the time and it has been in the works since then. I’m glad he’s used this song to come back as it is quite lighthearted and is here just in time for summer. I’m beginning to realise a secret to a successful song nowadays is to have some kind of viral dance that can go with it. With summer coming up, this song will definitely be played at events. While this song may seem lighthearted and “fun”, Stormzy still uses it to spread his views as well as witty metaphors. The “facial” metaphor is an interesting one. I won’t say too much as it is quite ambiguous but I did hear the little laugh he has after that line!! Naughty!! ha! Most importantly, I know Stormzy has a lot more greatness in his locker and I cannot wait for some new music from him! He has been missed!! Oh and the video is incredible!!! Honestly I really look forward to Stormzy’s videos! When he started out his videos were always creative so imagine now he has the budget for so much more, Amazing!!

Beyoncé- Before I Let Go

Speaking of viral videos, this song has one too! Beyoncé released this bonus song as part of her Homecoming: The Live Album tracks. The song actually reminds me of one of her songs “Ring Off” in terms of the production and hopefulness that comes with the track. In this song she is singing about the fact she will not give up on love with her man. This resonates with the theme on her ‘Lemonade‘ album. My favourite part of the song is actually when her voice tone changes “Pull up to Coachella”, her voice goes deep! She also goes into dance instructions reminiscent of her “Move Your body” song. The challenges that I have seen and she has posted have been great to! Have a listen below and see if you can recreate it for yourself.

Mist Ft Lotto Ash – Different Strokes

M I S to the T is back with another song recruiting Lotto Boys member Ash. Ash has one of the most beautiful voices in the UK at the moment and this mix really goes well. For me though, I feel Ash stole the show on this song. I found myself listening to him more than Mist. Regardless, it’s a good song for the summer and hopefully this is a sign we are going to hear more music from both of them.

Darkoo Ft Br3nya – Juice

I am here for this female power! Br3nya for me is 100% a talent and I have been enjoying watching her rise into the music scene. The song is a good vibe with a hint of an afrobeat fusion. Have a listen below:

Don’t forget I have a summer playlist. Have a listen below!!

Revisiting Time: Beyoncé – Lemonade

In honor of not only Throwback Thursday but also the joy that Lemonade is FINALLY on Spotify, I wanted to revisit my views on Beyoncé’s most recent solo album. When I first heard this album my compliments were reserved as I was expecting a more upbeat album. However, having had time to digest I feel this album is possibly one of her most powerful, honest and mature albums. I love when songs on an album tell a story via the track listing. Most of the songs on this album follow on and finish off from each other. The album for me screams pain, struggle, loneliness and hopelessness. I’ve named some songs below that I feel are really poignant;

Pray you Catch Me:

The first track from the album as with most intro tracks paints a picture of what the future songs may be about. The title of the song implies vulnerability and is obvious at this point the album will mostly be about her relationship with her husband. The idea she repeatedly sings “Pray to catch you whispering, I pray you catch me listening” implies that she wants her lover to know she is seeing what is happening and is hurting. The song is quite mellow, but you can’t miss the pain that is evident in it. The last lines “What are you doing my love?” show the hopelessness and confusion she has been made to feel from this pain the man who she considers her love.

Hold Up:

This is personally my favourite song from the album. Many people loved the song due to the dramatic video but for me this song shows the depths of Beyoncé vocal ability. Aside from her vocals, we see another side to Beyoncé. Following on from her pleading in the first song she sings “Can’t you see there’s no other man above you? What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you” letting him understand how crazy it is that he would risk ruining the support she gives him. In this song she also ignores her usual politeness and reminds us she’s got a sassy side to her! “I don’t wanna lose my pride, but I’ma fuck me up a bitch”. As of recent Beyoncé has been more free with her language in her songs and this is a prime example. She questions herself as many women would in this situation; “Know that I kept it sexy, you know I kept it fun” meaning that she did everything she thought would be enough and yet he still strayed. Another point to add from this song is that not only is she expressing her love for him, she is also reminding him who was there from the beginning (her). The repeated lines “They don’t love you like I love you” and when she sings “Let’s imagine for a moment that you never made a name for yourself or mastered wealth….Never made it out the cage, never had the baddest woman in the game up in your sheets”. With those lyrics she reminds him that she is a ride or die and has been there despite his wealth unlike the women he has been cheating with. I love the instruments used in this song and the way they compliment the mood of the lyrics.

Don’t Hurt Yourself:

Following on from “Hold Up”, this song is a pure anger that it feels like a venting session. It feels like at this moment of the album, Beyoncé is at breaking point and is just filled with rage. Again, this shows a more explicit version of Beyoncé with the frequent use of swear words. The song reminds me of the tone of her older song “Ring the Alarm”. In the song she sings about the frustration she feels from his lack of trying; “You ain’t trying hard enough, you ain’t loving hard enough” again reiterating the point that the man in question seems to be giving up. The most important words for me in the song come right at the end as she calmly says “If you try this shit again, you gon’ lose your wife”. In all the songs leading up onto these words, she never dropped an ultimatum like that, she usually expressed her anger or hurt or frustration, so those words are quite final and chilling.

Sorry:

This unapologetic anthem is possibly my second favourite song on the album and is another female anthem. This song reminds me of the impact of her song “Irreplaceable” and even many of her Destiny Child’s songs. The song focuses on the aftermaths of a breakup as Beyoncé famously sings “I ain’t sorry”. In the song she encourages women to sing “boy bye” as an act of strength. Towards the end she sings “Me & my baby, we gon’ be alright” implying that she will survive despite the heartbreak she has endured. The song is accompanied by a strong video featuring Serena Williams. For me, the cameo from Serena is quite poignant as during this time and throughout her successful career, Serena has endured so much criticism. The idea of her in this video feels like she is showing how unapologetic she is being who she is.

6 Inch Ft. The Weeknd

While this isn’t one of my favourites, I like the message that is embedded in it. The song is a great motivational song that empowers women. The song uses the setting of a strip club where the woman in question is one of the dancers. In the song she sings “She works for the money, she work for the money” showing that she is there to earn money for the work she is doing. A professional approach to a job, just as everyone else would be in their job. 

Freedom Ft. Kendrick Lamar & Formation 

Similarly to 6 Inch, both songs are another examples of empowering anthems however with also the added focusses on race and black women. For me the visuals that come with Freedom song are powerful as the video features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. The feature from Kendrick is perfect as I couldn’t think of any other rapper that would have done it justice like he did. Formation, another black power anthem references police brutality, race in America while also encouraging women to be strong and “slay”. 

All Night 

This powerful ballad is such a beautiful love song. Another one of my favourites from the album, Beyoncé vocals really shine. With this being the last song on the album alluding to love or even relationships, it can be argued to be a climax. I feel like Beyoncé is comforting her husband in this song and reassuring him “Our love was stronger than your pride. Beyond your darkness, I’m your light”. She expresses how she knows that together they are the best they can be and they are a pair. She further sings “But every diamond has imperfections” which could be a reference to her relationship and how every relationship has flaws. The last line of the song is Beyoncé saying “How I missed you, my love” which is in parallel to her closing line of her first song on the album when she said “What are you doing my love?”. The song can be argued to be the climax to the anguish, pain and suffering she had endured throughout the album.

The album as a whole contains so much emotion and rawness that it’s easy to see how and why it took so long to be released. Hopefully Beyoncé releases a new piece of work soon that can start where this ended, with her in a happier place. 

Happy International Women’s Day 2019!! #BalanceForBetter

Celebrating women through music.

Hello everyone! So today, March 8th 2019 happens to be ‘International Women’s Day’. This is a day where we celebrate all the achievements of women. Every year there is a different theme and this year it is #BalanceforBetter which calls for better representation in the workplace indicating that balance provides a better working environment. Below is a list of a few female anthems that I love for their ability to express womanhood unapologetically! “Here’s to strong Women! May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them”!!!

Maya Angelou – Phenomenal Woman

When I think of strong women in history, Maya Angelou
(April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014 ) is at the top of my list. I loved how confident she was and how she openly spoke out in public over the fact women deserved the same amount of respect and ownership as men. Many of her poems expressed her beliefs and in her poem “Phenomenal Woman” she expresses how much of a powerful woman she is and all the things that make her feel great. I feel the poem is an ode to women in general and a lesson for women to understand and accept the power and grace we have. The first stanza of the poem is based on her interaction with other women; “Pretty women wonder where my secret lies , where she addresses what makes her special due to the fact she may not be stereotypically “attractive”. In the second and third stanza Maya describes her effect on men; ” I walk into a room, just as cool as you please & to a man, the fellows stand or fall down on their knees”, again showing how a woman’s physical attributes are seen but with the other sex. In the fourth and final stanza, Maya summarises her qualities and lets the reader understand the reasons for why she doesn’t “bow her head” or quiet down, it is because she is proud of who she is and is not willing to hide that. Her final words summarise the whole poem;
“It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me”.

R.I.P Maya Angelou!

A powerful poem with a powerful message by a powerful woman. Check out Maya’s powerful voice reciting this poem below:

Destiny’s Child – Independent Women – (2001)

When you think of female anthems, this song definitely fits! The song is released from their album ‘Survivor’, released in 2001 and was also the theme song for the film ‘Charlie’s Angels’. The ladies start the song off by stating “Try to control me boy, you get dismissed, pay my own car note and I pay my own bills, always 50/50 in relationships”. The girls sing about how independent they are and the fact they do not need to rely on anyone else especially men. The hook is a chant for fellow independent women “All the women, who are independent throw your hands up at me”, encouraging fellow women to celebrate their independence. The line “I depend on me” is repeated throughout the song and I believe that is a statement revealing how women can be self sufficient. Have a listen below!

Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman – (1978)

“I’m every woman, it’s all in meeeeeeee”, you gotta sing this out loud and feel the joy from this song! This is the debut single from her debut album “Chaka”. This song feels like a celebration of womanhood . Whitney Houston also has a version of this song which is equally good as Whitney puts her own spin on the song while still paying homage to Chaka.


Alicia Keys – Superwoman – (2008)

In 2016, Alicia Keys decided to stop wearing makeup (or very rarely) and stated “I love my lip gloss, I love my blush, I love my eyeliner. It’s not about that. At the same time, I don’t want to feel beholden — to have to do it”. Since then, Alicia has stuck by her word which, in this day and age, with all the pressure to look a certain way is a wonderful demonstration of her power and strength. This song plays on the idea of how strong women are with all the tasks they have to do on a daily basis. Alicia sings “Still when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest with an ‘S’ on my chest”, meaning despite all the drama and hard work women do on a daily basis, she still gets up and gets on with it, alluring to the notion of being Superwoman My favourite part of the song is when Alicia sings “For all the mothers fighting for better days to come and all my woman, all my woman sitting here trying to come home before the sun & all my sisters coming together say “yes, I will,” and “yes, I can”. Overall, I love how Alicia dwells on the powers she has being a woman and I believe as women, we should do well to remember just how super we are.

Beyoncé – Run the World (Girls) – (2011)

This song was released from Beyoncé’s fourth studio album “4” as the lead single. Beyoncé actually has a history of releasing songs based on female empowerment and this song is no different. One of my favourite lines in this song is “My persuasion can build a nation” which reminds me of a bit of Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” poem. (mentioned above). The song contains a lot of African influence which is evident with the dance moves used in the video. Beyoncé’ regularly sings about female issues and inequality and is infamous for her “all female band”. Some other female-empowered songs she has released are: ‘If I were a Boy’ (2008), “Irreplaceable” (2006), “Ring Off” (2013),”Pretty Hurts” (2013), “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008), “Sorry” (2016)

I could write all day about female empowerment songs. Empowerment songs don’t always have to be so modest or clean cut too. Part of equality is the idea men and women can be treated equally and women will be not be discriminated against due to the things they may say or do that do not fit with the “stereotype”. I will write a post soon about female rappers and their importance and influence in society and I will go more in depth. However, I just wanted to emphasise that feminism comes in all forms. I pray for a day women can state what they want or who they are, without the judgement of society and men. On that note, listen to City Girls – “Act Up” were women take the control back, do whatever the hell they want and “live their best lives” haha!



Pic Think: Thinking Through Media

As mentioned earlier, a friend of mine has created a great podcast containing philosophical conversations, reviews and commentary on contemporary film, TV Shows, music and literature. I recently took part in a review and discussion on Beyoncé & Jay Z’s joint album “Everything is Love“. Please have a listen to the second part of the podcast to hear our views and commentary.

Feel free to listen to the other episodes. The link for the Podcast Soundcloud is https://m.soundcloud.com/picthink

Here is the episode in question;