WHO IS SHE? The queen of all she surveys. And — more pointedly — the voice of leonine love interest Nala in this critically panned but commercially successful computer-animated remake of Disney’s 1994 cartoon staple.
WHAT IS THIS? Beyonce’s self-described “love letter to Africa” is a typically ambitious and inspired offering that handily overshadows the film’s tamely predictable official score and soundtrack, which came out last week.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Equal parts exotic and familiar. Alternating between musical tracks and dialogue from the film, the 30-track playlist also spans multiple genres and styles — many cuts balance earthy grooves with contemporary production and sonics while spotlighting deserving but lesser-known African artists alongside friendly faces like Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Pharell, Tierra Whack, Major Lazer, hubby Jay-Z and even daughter Blue Ivy, among others.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? I’m not crazy enough to second-guess Beyonce.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? With your finger poised to skip over most of the inessential dialogue tracks.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Diverse, respectful, collaborative, rhythmic, percussive, multicultural, inspired, star-studded, hypnotic, stylish.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Pretty much anything Bey treats to her Midas touch — including the hip-hoppy Mood 4 Eva (co-starring Jay-Z and Childish Gambino), the low-slung Diplo co-production Already, the cascading ballad Otherside, the darkly throbbing My Power and the ethereal Kendrick collaboration Nile.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘Why isn’t this the soundtrack to the movie?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Way more often than you’ll listen to John Oliver, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner singing songs from the film.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A COLLEGE COURSE, WHAT COURSE WOULD IT BE? Introduction to Contemporary African Studies.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? Buy it — but delete the dialogue. And don’t blame me if you already bought the soundtrack; I told you last week to hold your horses.