Chance the Rapper had a small hand in the making of Disney’s The Lion King, the new CGI reboot of the animated 1994 classic. Speaking to Varietyat the film’s Hollywood premiere, the rapper revealed that he was brought in both as a small voice part and for “nostalgia consulting”, as he put it.
The film’s director Jon Favreau apparently enlisted Chance on the recommendation of Donald Glover, who plays Simba in the film. “He told Jon early on that I was like The Lion King aficionado, which I am,” Chance laughs. That role involved watching the film while it was still a work-in-progress and offering comparisons to the original, “telling him if the movie was too off, which it never was”, he adds.
Early reviews of the film highlight the similarities between Favreau’s film and the original, sharing the same songs and even one of the same voice actors in James Earl Jones, who returns to play Mufasa.
Chance also says that Glover asked him to voice a new character. On Instagram, Chance shared a photo from the film’s credit sequence with his character name: Bush Baby. The post’s caption also talks about how the original film was “immensely impactful on my music and overall life”, and goes into more detail about the “early animations, scenes, music direction or assemblies” that Chance saw.
As sweet as Chance’s enthusiasm is, it’s hard to get too excited about the idea of Hollywood enlisting ‘nostalgia consultants’ on blockbuster films. The retromaniac tendency that’s infected popular culture over the past decade has made it harder than ever to break any new ground creatively, and having people whose job is to ensure that something doesn’t stray too far from an audience’s pre-existing expectations doesn’t seem like it’s going to do much to change that.
Watch the Variety interview above, and check out the Instagram post below. The Lion King is out on July 19.