With the heavy influence of Afrobeat music present in Disney’s The Lion King soundtrack, the west African music style has taken the world by storm. Similarly, afrobeat fusion styles have found their way into much of today’s hip-hop music through artists such as Drake, Future, and many others. Disney’s 2019 film features vocal appearances from some of today’s biggest celebrities such as Beyonce, Seth Rogen and Donald Glover. Beyonce took her participation in the film one step further; not only does the singer lend her vocals to the character of Nala, but she also released an album to coincide with the film score. The album, titled The Lion King: The Gift, provides an authentic and refreshing view into African Music and features collaborations with a plethora of Afro Beat stars. In no particular order, check out the artists and give their music a spin below!
Mr. Eazi, or Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade, is a Nigerian artist who studied mechanical engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology prior to the release of his first single “Pipi Dance” in 2012. The performer also collaborated with other artists such as Lil Kesh and Burna Boy before going on to release his own mixtape Life Is Eazi, Vol. 1: Accra to Lagos in 2017. Mr. Eazi is one of the featured artists on Beyonce’s album and can be heard in the tracks “DON’T JEALOUS ME”, and “KEYS TO THE KINGDOM”.
Appearing alongside Mr. Eazi in “KEYS TO THE KINGDOM”, Tiwa Savage started her career at sixteen when she performed backup vocals for George Michael. The Nigerian singer received a degree in Business administration from the University of Kent before going on to study professional music at the Berklee College of Music. Tiwa also competed on the UK X Factor in 2006, where she was eliminated just after advancing to the final 24.
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known to the public as WizKid found his love for music at age eleven by singing at his church. The star started his music career when he released an album with his church choir and later started a group known as Glorious Five. Eventually, the singer produced a solo album under the name Lil Prinz. The singer began to gain popularity after the success of his collaboration track “Fast Money” with M.I. WizKid was also the first Nigerian artist to appear on Billboard’s Twitter Last 24 Hours chart in 2016 for his work on Drake’s “One Dance.” WizKid’s success continues into 2019 as his track “BROWN SKIN GIRL” on The Lion King: The Giftis a fan favorite that has become an anthem for young girls.
Damini Ogulu, or Burna Boy, is a Nigerian singer/songwriter who began his music career in 2011 with the release of his track “Shobeedo (Freestyle).” In 2012, Ogulu was immediately thrust into after the immense success of his track “Like to Party,” which features the combination of beats that later became Burna Boy’s trademark sound. The artist has a track called “JA ARA E” on Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album and also received glowing reviews for his recent fourth studio album, African Giant.
Tekno Miles is a Nigerian musician who was inspired by his family’s love of music as a young child and began to take lessons in piano and guitar. Tekno gained popularity after performing a remix of Ice Prince’s song “Oleku” at an event in Abuja. His performance at the event caught the attention of several big names, including the managers of Made Men Music who were quick to sign him into their company. Although Tekno has yet to release his own album, he has a wide variety of successful tracks such as “Holiday,” “Duro,” and “Dance.” Tekno is featured alongside Mr. Eazi and others on “DON’T JEALOUS ME” in Beyonce’s album.
Yemi Alade is a Nigerian singer/songwriter who received a degree from the University of Lagos while simultaneously pursuing her music career. The singer gained a following in 2009 after winning the Peak Talent Show and releasing her debut single “Fimisile.”Alade then signed to Effyzzie Music Group and released her second single “Johnny” in 2013. The performer can be heard on the tracks “DON’T JEALOUS ME” and “MY POWER” in Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift.
Shatta Wale is a Ghanian musician who dove into his music career immediately after finishing high school. Wale was greatly influenced by reggae musician, Yoggy-Doggy, to the extent that he began his career under the name Doggy. Wale eventually landed a recording deal and released his track “Bandana from Ghana,” under the new name Bandana. After leaving the music industry for an extended period of time, the singer re-emerged in 2013 as Shatta Wale. The performer also holds the world record for most songs performed during a single concert following a 2016 performance where he played 118 songs through the pouring rain. Shatta Wale can be heard in Beyonce’s album on the track “ALREADY.”
Maleek Berry is Nigerian artist who was raised in London and began his career at age fourteen through church performances and producing songs with his friends. Berry made his debut into the music industry in 2011 when a trip to Nigeria allowed him to join forces with other Afro Beat big names such as WizKid, Wande Coal, and Runtown. The artist also worked as a producer for Wizkid’s Starboy Entertainment in 2013. Today, Berry is best known for his solo tracks such as “Flashy” and “Kontrol.”
Olamide is a Nigerian music artist also known as Baddo, YNBL, Young Erikina, and the Baddest Boy Ever Liveth. In 2011 the artist signed to Coded Tunes Label and released his first album Rapsodi, but laterformed his own label under which he released his second album YBNL. Olamide’s music largely consists of hip hop tracks with strong references to Nigerian culture. Olamide’s most recent album Lagos Nawa! received praise for its Afro-jazz fusion tracks such as “Saysaymaley” and “Lagos Nawa.”
Wande Ojosipe, otherwise known as Wande Coal, is a Nigerian performer who rose to fame as a dancer. Wande later crossed over into the music industry and signed to Don Jazzy’s Mo’ Hits Records in 2006. Coal is known for his remarkable stage presence that undoubtedly stems from his experience as a dancer. The artist gained popularity following his collaboration with D’banji on the album Rundown/Funk you up. Wande Coal recently released a track titled “Kilofeshe” with artist JP and will perform at London Indigo at the O2 at the end of the month.
Santi is a Nigerian performer who was formally known as Ozzy B. The singer/rapper began his interest in music after listening to his father’s CDs as a child. Santi rose to fame when his 2011 mixtape received an abundance of positive feedback, with some listeners even dubbing it one of the best tapes of Nigeria. While under the name Ozzy B, the rapper released several tracks and even received attention from WizKid for his talents. However, the performer later left behind rapper Ozzy B in order to take on a more mixed genre style under the name Santi. The artist is currently on tour and will perform in Las Vegas this November.
Skales is a rapper who rose to fame after his performance in the Zain Tru Search Competition where he earned the first position in the region. Following his success in the competition, Skales released his first single called “Must Shine.” The track received immense radio success and allowed for Skales to sign with Empire Mates Entertainment in 2009. The rapper also won the award for best upcoming artist at the Nigerian Teen Choice Awards in 2013. In 2015, Skales formed his record label, OHK music, and released his first album Man of the Year.
Best known for hits “Blow My Mind” and “Fall,” David Adedeji Adeleke is a Nigerian performer/producer who was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Adeleke, better known by his stage name DaVido, has a degree in music from Babock University. His debut album Omo Baba Olowo was releases in 2012, but the artist didn’t receive much attention from the public until the release of his single “Dami Duro.” Although DaVido is the co-owner of the record label HKN Music, a successful collaboration with Meek Mill in 2016 led him to sign with Sony BMG. This year, the rapper has released songs with many big names such as Chris Brown, Sean Kingston, and B-Red.