By Alicia Adejobi
Beyonce has been criticised for appearing to snub Kenyan artists on her new The Lion King soundtrack album, despite the Disney movie taking inspiration from the country’s culture. The 37-year-old, who voices Nala in Disney’s epic reboot, released The Lion King: The Gift to coincide with the animation’s theatrical release.
Beyonce took charge of the album as executive producer, curating the tracklist and also singing on several songs herself. Described as a ‘love letter to Africa’, the album features a host of Afrobeat artists from Nigeria and Ghana, such as Burna Boy, WizKid, Shatta Wale, Tekno, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi, as well as South African artists Busiswa and Moonchild Sanelly. But it appears to lack any local Kenyan artists and one man is particularly upset about the snub.
John Katana, frontman of the Chakacha Kenyan band, Them Mushrooms, helped create the iconic Hakuna Matata song that featured in both the original 1994 Lion King movie and the latest remake.
Explaining his disappointment, John told TMZ: ‘No one called us, we just read about it in the media, just like everyone else. There’s been a big debate on social media about that, Kenya missing out on The Lion King.
Both Lion King movies are widely said to take inspiration from Kenya, which is why John was even more surprised that Kenya was noticeably omitted from the record. The Gift features a host of Nigerian and Ghanaian artists (Picture: Disney)
The musician explained: ‘When the creatives in the country are complaining that Kenyan acts, even The Mushrooms, should have been on Beyonce’s recording because the phrase was made popular by Kenya, from our band. ‘So everyone feels as though we should have had a piece of the pie. But that’s not the case. So I think, yes, we should have been on the recording.’
John and his band famously used the phrase Hakuna Matata on his band’s 1980s hit single Jambo Bwana.
Explaining the inspiration behind the surprise album, Beyonce told Good Morning America earlier this month: ‘This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa, and I wanted to make sure we found the best talent from Africa, and not just use some of the sounds and did my interpretation of it. ‘We’ve kind of created our own genre and I feel like the soundtrack is the first soundtrack where it becomes visual in your mind.