Queen Sono (Pearl Thusi) is leading a double life, as most international spies are wont to do. One moment, she finds herself in life-threatening situations stealing valuable information for the government. Next, she is dodging questions from her lifelong friends about how she makes a living. For some reason, they don’t seem to fully believe that she is an art dealer like she says. Sono has her hands full.
While trying to investigate a burgeoning terrorist conspiracy, she is surprised with suspicious information about the assassination of her mother, who was a political activist during apartheid. There is a lot going on for such a short and binge-able series — which makes a dynamic soundtrack all the more important.
Taking place in a number of countries across Africa, Queen Sono’s soundtrack features a similar smattering of artists from all over the continent mixed into a well-blended medley with classic hitmakers such as James Brown and contemporary chart-toppers like Lizzo that hits all the right notes. The soundtrack focuses less on sticking to a specific genre or era and instead chooses to focus on achieving the right mood, whether that be with an R&B track or a synth-pop song.
Perhaps one of the biggest selling points of the series’ soundtrack is that it features many African artists, such as Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol, Nigerian pop star Simisola “Simi” Ogunleye, and classic Nigerian drummer and music artist Babatunde Olatunji.
The track that sets the tone for Sono as a character is South African rapper Nadia Nakai’s heavy-hitting “Big Pun.” It is very fitting that the song introducing us to South African-raised Queen Sono is by an artist from the same country. As Netflix’s first African original series, Queen Sono holds a lot of weight in terms of representation and recognition. Using that to give a platform to artists from the same countries in which the show takes place is the representation that South African artists deserve.
Queen Sono is now streaming on Netflix.