We have recently seen an increase in the number of productions dedicated to the uplifting of Black individuals, specifically Africans, in American media. This is seen in features such as “Black Panther”, the new “Lion King”, and the new Beyonce Lion King album entitled, “The Gift”. All of this is positive and empowering, especially in this current political and social climate, however, I cannot help but think about the term, “authenticity”.
The African artists on “The Gift” album are some of the best artists from Africa. Many of these artists, such as Wizkid and Mr. Eazi have even become so accomplished that they are now considered prevalent global artists. With this new album, it seems as though the media may be attributing the anticipated global success of these African artists to Beyonce and her platform. Though I understand and somewhat support this narrative, I think this topic can be further explored. Album contributors such as Burna Boy and Tekno have gained success in both Nigeria and other countries so I am sure that African people understand that we do not need approval from westernized nations or media in order to feel validated. Does the US have to be the gold standard of success?
Additionally, we have even seen the Afrobeats tempo and style attempted to be replicated in many US artists ranging from artists like Chris Brown, to Ne-yo, and Drake who are capitalizing on the rising genre. Well, I can’t blame them. Artists have to continue to keep up with new trends and they all want a piece of the pie. But now with Beyonce’s most recent artwork being added to her pile of accolades, I wonder if she is just taking a piece of the pie as the others have done?
I will add that regardless of trends in US media, it’s really important for African people to understand that they are worthy regardless of whether or not they make musical collaborations with American artists. Even though I do have my concerns, I am excited to continue to see the positive portrayal of African culture through American partnerships. It’s imperative that more positive Black images and sounds are showcased now more than ever.