04 Aug Black is King: A Review of Beyoncé’s Visual Album
Black is King has finally dropped on Disney+. This visual album by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is inspired by the album The Lion King: The Gift, which in turn was inspired by last year’s remake of The Lion King. Overall, if you’re a fan of Queen Bey, you will want to see this film. There is no easy way to describe the piece that could really compare to watching it on your own.
As the title suggests, Black is King is a celebration of Black culture and Black people. It celebrates where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. Black is King is a tribute to our ancestors, ourselves, and our contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, several songs showcase a slew of African musical collaborators like Tekno, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi. There are also American collaborators like Pharrell, Childish Gambino, and Jay-Z. The music ranges from rap to gospel to a lullaby.
Black is King Overview
Each scene feels connected but brings us to different locations. The cinematographers did an amazing job. We are in the desert, by a winding river, cruising in a car through the neighborhood, in outer space. Also, in a series of interiors, each more awesome than the last. There are a familiar faces that show up: fellow Destiny’s Child Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé’s mother, Tina, Naomi Campbell. In the film’s catchiest number, “Brown Skin Girl,” Lupita Nyong’o and Blue Ivy Carter appear. Everyone looks fantastic, their skin radiant and their attire flowing in a tactile grace. If nothing else, “Black Is King” is a jaw-dropping visual achievement.
There is poetry by Warsan Shire and dialogue from the Lion King remake fill the empty spaces between songs. The story, as little as there is, loosely follows the story of Simba taking his place in the Circle of Life. There is scene after scene of representation. People appear as kings, warriors, and other figures that control their own destinies. Every outfit and hairstyle has its own fashion magazine-style layout or shout-out, to the point where you want to pause the movie to stare and marvel with envy.
As the film closes out, a dedication screen comes up that says: “Dedicated to my son, Sir Carter. And to all our sons and daughters, the sun and the moon bow for you. You are the keys to the kingdom.” All while Black Parade plays underneath.
To be completely transparent, I do not listen to Beyoncé on my own time. So, watching this was more to see if the hype was true. I wanted to see if this album was more Beyoncé excelling and less Disney wanting to be like “We’re so pro-Black.” But, Black is King is visually stunning and the music is great.
I could see the similarities between the story of The Lion King and this masterpiece. But, it was not like the latest version of the Disney film and just a replication of what inspired it. Black is King had its own spirit and story to the point that I often forgot that it was inspired by The Lion King.
If you have the time and Disney+, you should give the film a watch.