Beyoncé assembled an international roster for The Lion King: The Gift, an album featuring music inspired by the remake of The Lion King, in which Bey plays Nala. The album is not to be confused with the movie’s soundtrack, which includes remakes of all the classics from the 1994 original. The Gift is more of a promotional vehicle that allows Disney to maximize its use of Beyoncé’s clout, especially since her role in the movie is relatively small. It is a shrewd move on Disney’s part.

The Gift begins with James Earl Jones’ booming voice, which has aptly been described as what the world’s richest coffee would sound like if it could speak. The prelude, titled “Balance,” features Jones as Mufasa and transitions into “Bigger” by  Beyoncé, a surprisingly contemporary song that will remind anyone with a keen ear of Lemonade’s “Love Drought.” The song’s bridge even mentions the word “drought,” and I find it hard to believe that that was a coincidence.

“Bigger” is a solid track and a good indicator of what’s to come: an assortment of jams. If you’re looking for “Circle of Life”-esque songs, go listen to the soundtrack.

We get another James Earl Jones interlude, which is followed by “Find Your Way Back” by Bey. Though contemporary, this track sounds a lot closer to the old-school African sound that I would have expected from the entire project. The drums and the cadence of the verses will remind you of Drake’s “Too Good” (featuring Rihanna). “Find Your Way Back” is a strong contender for best track.

Tekno, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi joined forces for the album’s first club banger, “Don’t Jealous Me.” The song, which many would describe as “Afrobeats” (a questionable term in my book), is your standard contemporary African (read: Nigerian) jam.

We get another interlude featuring JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph as young Simba and young Nala, respectively.

“Ja Ara E” by Burna Boy is another contemporary Naija jam, but this one’s a little mellower. I’m thinking more swanky bar and less club. The Yoruba title roughly translates to “stay woke,” which would be unbearably trite if it was in English.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and JD McCrary as Scar and young Simba, respectively, are featured in the next interlude, “Run Away,” which is followed by “Nile” by Bey and Kendrick Lamar. At just 1 minute 47 seconds, “Nile” could be classified as another interlude. We don’t get any real music till its last 30 seconds, with a beat that bears some similarities to B’Day‘s “Kitty Kat.” You will be left feeling furious that this track — or at least its last 30 songs — isn’t longer.

Timon (Billy Eichner), Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and young Simba are featured on “New Lesson,” an interlude that closes with a mention of “Hakuna Matata.” What a wonderful phrase.

Bey, Jay-Z and Childish Gambino got together for “Mood 4 Eva” and I wasn’t quite ready. Beyoncé and her husband shit all over this track. The braggadocio is on a hunnid thousand trillion and the beat KNOCKS. “Mood 4 Eva” is a real club banger and an otherwise perfect track if not for Donald Glover’s weak vocals.

Beyoncé and Donald Glover — who is credited as his stage and government names on this singular project — are featured as grownup Nala and Simba, respectively, on “Reunited.”

“Water” is a collaboration between Salatiel, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé, and the whole time, you’re just kind of wishing they left Bey to handle this one on her own. Her vocals are amazing and the other two don’t quite have the range. Also, Bey’s use of West African exclamation is simply beautiful.

Bey, SAINt JHN and WizKid — with an assist from Blue Ivy Carter — got together for “Brown Skin Girl,” an ode to black girls. The track, which name-checks Lupita Nyong’o and Kelly Rowland, is a fan favorite and trended on social media hours after The Gift dropped. Blue Ivy’s vocals, which open and close the song, are the best thing about “Brown Skin Girl.”

On the next interlude, we cringe through Nala telling Simba to come home. Beyoncé is one of the best to ever do this music shit, but acting is not her forte. Lordt.

“Keys to the Kingdom” is a groovy mid-tempo that may remind you of “Ja Ara E.” Though billed as a duet between Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi, the former gets the lion share of track time. “Keys” is followed by “Follow Me,” an interlude featuring John Kani as Rafiki.

Beyoncé sings in a West African accent on “Already,” a collaboration with Shatta Wale and Major Lazer, and another one for the clubs. What can I say that I haven’t already? Beyoncé is a master at her craft.

We get another dose of the world’s richest coffee on “Remember,” which is followed by “Otherside,” a ballad performed by Bey. Producer Bankulli sings the outro — which is in Yoruba and Kiswahili — with Beyoncé.

“War” is another interlude featuring Nala, but this time, Bey doesn’t sound so bad. It features a clip from the lead-up to the big fight with Scar, which features Nala in the remake, thanks to an expansion of the role.

Tierra Whack, Beyoncé and Moonchild Sanelly got together for “My Power,” which features Nija. The track is one of those that might take a few listens to appreciate. It’s a very South African track, so if that’s your bag, you might like it.

Simba and Scar face off on the “Surrender” interlude, and then it hits me: Donald Glover isn’t that great of an actor either. At least not as a voice actor.

“Scar,” performed by 070 Shake and Jessie Reyez, starts as a piano-driven ballad and then the beat drops. It sounds like an amalgamation of two songs that would probably be better off separated. Also, 070 Shake sounds like Sade in some instances and the Weeknd in others.

The album ends with “Spirit,” and now that I’ve heard this entire project, I can say that Beyoncé played us by not releasing something else as the lead single.

The Lion King: The Gift is yet another manifestation of Afropop as a force to be reckoned with. Popular American artists have dabbled in the sound for a few years now, but no one has ever done it quite at this scale. More importantly, Beyoncé has shown just how seamlessly you can blend American and African contemporary musical styles without diminishing either. She has also given the biggest of co-signs to a rack of African artists. A paradigm shift is imminent.

Album rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars.

This past Friday marked the 40th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night, the most hating-ass shit the music industry has ever seen. On the day of that embarrassing event, Donna Summer was sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Bad Girls,” the third of her four No. 1 hits, and the second single and title track from her seventh studio album. Her second No. 1, “Hot Stuff,” was No. 3 that week. In short, Donna Summer was shittin’ on the game and they literally hated to see it. “They” being the disco-haters, who were generally racists and homophobes, but I digress.

“Bad Girls” was written by Donna Summer, Bruce Sudano, Edward “Eddie” Hokenson and Joe “Bean” Esposito, and if the horns on the track remind you of KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up,” you’re not alone. The two songs have no common writers or producers, but writers of “Bad Girls” would have a solid case if they ever decided to sue.

The song, an ode to working girls, was inspired by an incident where one of Donna Summer’s assistants was mistaken for a prostitute — by a police officer, no less. Upon hearing the song, Donna Summer’s record label tried to have her give it to Cher, but she ended up keeping it for herself and releasing it years late. A shrewd queen.

I always celebrate disco because I have taste, but this week, I am celebrating it more loudly than usual because fuck them haters.

We now have a video for “Spirit,” and while the song is still meh, the video kinda makes up for it. Filmed in the Grand Canyon, the “Spirit” video features all of the standard interpretive choreography you would expect from an American going for African vibes. Some of it might actually remind you a bit of the choreography from the Lemonade era, which was full of African influences.

While the choreography isn’t spectacular, the costuming and cinematography certainly are. We get lots of bright colors and all sorts of aerial views, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself getting more excited about the new Lion King, which I wasn’t always sold on.

The best thing about the video is a cameo from Blue Ivy, who is clearly being groomed for world domination. Click play.

Today is Lil’ Kim’s 45th birthday, and while she is by far the most prominent person born today, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to post about another “Lil.”

Zane Copeland Jr., better known as Lil’ Zane, turns 37 today. If you don’t know who this is, I won’t hold it against you. If you do, congratulations on being a real one (and possibly being old as hell).

Lil’ Zane is your classic one-hit wonder — the likes of which we no longer see because streaming and social media have made it harder for anyone to have just one hit. In 2000, he released “Callin’ Me” (featuring 112), a song that is so 2000 in every way. The production, the lyrics, even the video. I wouldn’t call it a classic because classics are timeless and this song certainly isn’t. However, it is a heck of a tune.

“Callin’ Me” peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at No. 1 on the Hot Rap Songs chart. Lil’ Zane has not been able to chart any song ever since, but he still books shows on a fairly regular basis, which goes to show that one hit song can be parlayed into decades of opportunity.

Disney has just announced The Lion King: The Gift, an album produced and curated Beyoncé, which will accompany the theatrical release of The Lion King (July 19). The album, which appears to be separate from the movie’s soundtrack, will include an international roster of artists performing songs “steeped in the sounds of Africa.”

“Spirit,” the first single from The Gift, is by none other than Beyoncé. It is no “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” but it gets the job done. Click play.

The year was 2001 and Pharrell had a pornstache that still makes zero sense. Superproducers N.E.R.D. released their own music for the first time, and 18 years later, “Lapdance” remains ever green.

The song was was a crucial part of the wave of rock/rap blends that were popular at the time, and it serves as another example of Vita’s unappreciated contributions to popular music.

Earlier this week, Rich the Kid dropped the video for “Woah,” the fifth single from his sophomore album, The World Is Yours 2. The song features Miguel and Ty Dolla $ign, and the video features an assortment of women that got that woah.

If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought this was a Miguel song featuring Rich the Kid and Ty. The production sounds like something from War & Leisure and Miguel def gets more track time than anyone else.

All in all, dope track. Click play.

Saweetie just dropped a video for “My Type,” which samples Petey Pablo’s “Freek-A-Leek” and is actually quite catchy. So far, I haven’t been sold on Saweetie’s bona fides as a rapper. She has always struck me as an IG model who just happened to rap because the opportunity presented itself. And then there’s the disastrous freestyle on Hot 97.

You don’t have to be an amazing freestyler to be a serious rapper, but from the perspective of someone who was already suspicious, that freestyle didn’t help. In any case, “My Type” is definitely worth a listen. Check it out below.

The mark of a talented ensemble is when each member goes solo and is able to produce quality material. The Fugees is one of such ensembles.

Two years after the group’s second and final album, The Score, Pras tried his hand at a solo career, and while he wasn’t as successful as his other band mates, he will always be able to lay claim to putting out a classic.

Written by Pras, former bandmate Wyclef, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “Ghetto Superstar” samples “Islands in the Stream,” which was written by The Bee Gees and performed by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

I can’t help but wonder Marvin would’ve done to this song, but I know it would’ve amazing.

“Ghetto Superstar” was the second single from Pras’ self-titled solo debut album. The song was also a single from the #Bullworth soundtrack and peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has, however, enjoyed the longevity of a No. 1 hit. Click play.

When it comes to music videos, no one is fucking with Cardi B right now. In a recent livestream on Instagram, the Bronx native said she was in her creative bag during the production of the “Press” video, and my goodness, she wasn’t lying.

The video starts off with a threesome situation that ends with Cardi pulling out a gun. We hear a gun shot and a scream, but it isn’t clear who got popped. Art begins to imitate life as we see Cardi going to court in the latest fashions, which is her present reality — she’s still dealing with an assault case for throwing bottles at two sisters she suspected of sleeping with Offset.

There’s a scene where Cardi and a squad of dancers — all naked, nipple-less and stained with blood — get in formation. It’s not part of the plot, but it will def get your attention. At some point, all the dancers appear to have been killed. Murder scene, Cardi made a mess.

The video ends with Cardi in jail with a cellmate who makes the mistake of trying Cardi. Watch all the way to the end.