That’s it. That’s the column.
While I am kidding, we do need to pay her some serious respect this week. The woman not only contributed to the efforts that brought us a live-action “Lion King” (I still have yet to see it, please don’t spoil anything) but she just dropped a full album inspired by the Disney reboot. A “love letter to Africa” as the Grammy-winning artist describes it, each track on “The Lion King: The Gift” is purely authentic.
Bey brought in artists from a variety of African regions, included interludes from scenes in the film, and brought on some of today’s biggest artists, like her husband and rap legend JAY-Z, Childish Gambino (Donald Glover, who voices Simba in the reboot), hitmaker Pharrell Williams, EDM trio Major Lazer and lyrical icon Kendrick Lamar.
It’s an album only Beyoncé could produce.
While the incredible album, which takes me back to my childhood in a musical way that’s never been done before, is on the forefront of my mind, there were other soundly releases on Friday.
Four of today’s biggest country female stars came together and released a statement song, I found a new music group to obsess over, my favorite female artist blessed me with another flawless track, and Akon took me back to the summer of 2006.
Here we go.
“The Lion King: The Gift,” an album from Beyoncé
- She starts off the album with the track “BIGGER,” an R&B vibe that holds a universal meaning. With lyrics like “Forgiveness is key because we’re fighting something way bigger,” the song is not only relevant to the movie but to life in the real world. Each track flawlessly slides into an interlude from the film. “FIND YOUR WAY BACK” is a track that starts the fun, with its irresistible beat and unique vocal flow, and “DON’T JEALOUS ME” exudes an Afro/Latin fusion vibe that should be played in every dance club across the world. Bey gave my favorite Nigerian singer songwriter his own, well-deserved track with “JA ARA E.” Kendrick Lamar joins Beyoncé on “NILE” for a spoken word vibe that reminds us Bey’s vocals are nothing short of breathtaking. “MOOD 4 EVA,” with Bey, JAY-Z and Childish Gambino, is my guess for the album’s biggest chart topper, with its hip-hop feel. My favorite song, which debuts the vocals of Blue Ivy Carter (Bey and JAY’s oldest daughter), is “BROWN SKIN GIRL.” It’s the future theme song for beautiful brown skin girls all over the world who look up to the female icon. Beyoncé did not disappoint with this album and it only adds to my excitement of wanting to see the movie.
“At Least I Look Cool” by Sasha Sloan
- The best word to describe this song? Cool. I love Sloan’s chill and effortless vocals and the simple backbeat. The song is mocking the stupid things people do every day to “look cool” on social media, but in a very smooth and sultry way. Google tells me Sloan is a singer/songwriter based out of Los Angeles, which makes even more sense. If I were to describe what living in L.A. would be like with one song, it would be this one.
“Low Key” by Akon
- Akon jumped into a time machine and reappeared out of 2006 to give us this song, which unfortunately was a disappointment. He hopped on the bandwagon and released a song inspired by the fast-paced Latin culture. The lyrics are “meh” and the beat sounds basic. A feature with an actual Latin artist might have given this track a chance.
“How Do You Sleep?” by Sam Smith
- The first 20 seconds of the London singer/songwriter’s newest release was intriguing. Then it hit 35 seconds and I felt unenthused. The song’s meaning is very relatable, asking your ex how they can sleep knowing all the pain they caused you, but its execution missed the mark.
“Prophet” by King Princess
- Everyone needs to stop what they’re doing and look into King Princess (Mikaela Straus). The 20-year-old musical prodigy doesn’t know how to produce a bad song. It’s clear as day that the music flows right out of her. She is skilled in taking parts of different genres and meshing them together in a perfectly sound way. “Prophet” is the newest release off her highly anticipated debut album “Cheap Queen.” It is groovy, seductive, enchanting and shows off her flawless vocal range.
“Details” by Billy Currington
- While the country singer’s vocals are great, the real credit needs to go to the writers because that doesn’t happen as much as it should. So, Mark Trussell, Nicole Galyon and Stephen Olsen, bravo. I adore these lyrics, their sincerity and the way Currington’s raspy range does them justice. The lyrics “Baby I memorized every brown sugar freckle that the lord put on ya, how you lean to the left, 45 degrees, right before you’re gonna kiss me,’ are adorably specific and illustrate a genuine love.
“Have It All” by Cosmo’s Midnight featuring Age.Sex.Location
- This is by far my favorite song of the week (sorry Beyoncé). Five seconds in and the only word I could muster up was an exaggerated “Whaaaaaaaat.” The Australian electronic duo gave us a dope beat, unique vocals and a damn good time. This song is just a lot of fun. It’s groovy, electric, has a touch of indie, and I can’t stop listening to it. Excuse me while I stalk this band and download every song they’ve ever released.
“I.F.L.Y.” by Bazzi
- Sultry cute is the best way to describe (Andrew) Bazzi’s newest track. The American singer is very skilled in switching from his low vocals to his high vocals in the same verse, then switching to a rap flow almost immediately after. “I.F.L.Y” is a warm love song about someone who changed his life, with lyrics like “Love you through the better days, love you through the rainy ones,” and “Next to me, when I’m with you, you bring out the best in me. God made you a twin, but you the one I see.”
“Wam” by A$AP Ferg featuring MadeinTYO
- This song is giving me total ’90s hip-hop vibes with A$AP’s hard flow. His producers made the right choice when they selected a modern beat to go along with it, giving listeners the best of both decades. The Harlem-based rapper let’s all the artists out there know that he is coming for them. And he’s starving.
“Redesigning Women” by The Highwomen
- Remember in 1980 when Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson collaborated and recorded an album as The Highwaymen? Well, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires felt it was time to unite and release the same kind of powerful sound. “Redesigning Women” is the first release from their recently announced album, which will be released on Sept. 6. The four women, who are among today’s biggest country stars, rewind back in time to when women were expected to bend their backs for the likes of men and plants a bomb to that mindset. The lyrics “Redesigning women, runnin’ the world while we’re cleanin’ up the kitchen. Makin’ bank, shakin’ hands, drivin’ 80 tryna get home just to feed the baby,” let listeners know that women will not conform to stereotypes. Women can do it all.