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beyonce’s ‘brown skin girl’ celebrates black women

July 19, 2019
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If you didn’t realize it yet, Africa is taking over. Or, more specifically, African music is. We already saw Kendrick Lamar and TDE tap into the contemporary sounds of the continent with the Black Panther soundtrack, and now Beyonce has dropped The Lion King: The Gift which takes the same pan-African approach to music inspired by a film. The album contains gems like “MOOD 4 EVA,” which features Childish Gambino and a standout verse from Jay-Z dedicated to the late Nipsey Hussle; and “JA ARA E” which gives us AFROPUNK Paris performer Burna Boy in rare form. But one of our favorite moments on the album is “BROWN SKIN GIRL,” Bey’s heartfelt ode to Black women, featuring Afrobeats megastar WizKid, Brooklyn rapper SAINt JHN, and special guest vocals from the royal child herself, Blue Ivy Carter.

Produced by Beyonce and P2J — you’ll know him from his collabs with Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage as well as contributions to GoldLink’s equally diasporic current album — the song is a seamless blend of American and Afro-pop. In an interview with Good Morning America, Beyonce explained her approach to the album: “This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa, and I wanted to make sure we found the best talent from Africa.” Check the song’s writing credits and you’ll see names from throughout the diaspora: South African singer-songwriter/producer Anatii; Nigerian-American producer and Odd Future affiliate Michael Uzowuru; Bipolar Sunshine, a Mancunian of Jamaican descent; and Brooklyn’s own Stacy Barthe.

Lyrically, the song is a cure for colorism, as Beyonce celebrates “pretty dark skin” and sings of a girl with “melanin too dark to throw her shade/ she minds her business and winds her waist.” The song ends with the sweet sound of Blue’s voice singing its refrain, “Brown skin girl / skin just like pearls / the best thing in the world,” an affirmation that’s as touching as it is cute.