Imagine not only landing the opportunity to work with Beyoncé, but finding out the track you’ve penned for the superstar will lead her new album.
Well, rising British singer-songwriter Raye got to live exactly that experience.
Raye, who’s recently worked with David Guetta and last year released an EP, Side Tape, found out that her song, “Bigger,” would lead Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift while the pair were posing for photos on the red carpet at the film’s London premiere.
The moment was captured on video and Raye later tweeted, “Beyoncé told me I’ve written Track 1 on the new album. It’s called ‘Bigger.’ I can’t I can’t.”
Speaking with ESSENCE, Raye says she was in Ghana working with Afrobeats producer Guilty Beatz, when she found out they’d be working with Beyoncé for a new project.
“Parkwood was talking to Guilty’s manager because [Beyoncé] was researching for the project. They wanted to find producers and writers from the culture, not just the biggest and the best doing it. They wanted to find the people who do the OG, OG Afrobeats sound.”
“They got in touch with Guilty’s team and heard some of the songs that we did together and invited us both down, which was so exciting, and they sat us down and explained the project and then we just dug in from there.”
“Bigger” has been one of the buzziest tracks from The Lion King-inspired album, which took over the Internet as soon as it dropped.
The album sees Beyoncé working with artists like Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, and more.
Raye says it’s been incredible watching as more and more artists like Beyoncé go beyond their backyard and tap into all that Afrobeats has to offer.
“Music is about the soul and purity and something that was really drilled into us from Parkwood was maintaining authenticity. You can’t have authentic Afrobeat without OG Afrobeat producers. People who are born, grow up, listen to, sing it, and create it. Africa’s on this wave where the tempo and cadence is just next level. The grooves are actually incomparable. I think it was really important for them to hone that. It’s just so important that that’s what people hear. You can kind of tell, I think, when it’s not at its true form.”
While Raye, who is currently on tour with Khalid, has shared her own projects, she has yet to drop a debut album. The singer says she’s in no rush and want to “earn” an album before releasing anything.
“I’m so in love with music and I have thousands of songs; I’m writing every day. But an album? I don’t know, I feel like the industry is so fast-paced now. Everything’s so quick, attention spans are shorter. Remember the days you used to buy an album and listen? There’s very few artists now who everybody is listening to every single song on their album and I want to make sure that I’m in a position where everybody is going to dig in. Like how everybody’s digging into this Lion King album.
Until then, she’s soaking up everything she can while working with other artists, specifically women in the industry, and hopes to pay it forward to other women looking to break in.
“I think being a woman in this industry is a serious, serious thing. It’s not easy, and environments are very, very male-dominated, and occasionally men are very predatory in their powerful position. Navigating it is very tough and I hold my hat off to every single female doing it right now because it is not easy. I think women are incredible. I’m doing my best to surround myself with female producers, engineers, and writers.”