photo via forbes.com
Black Is King is a triumph bursting with energy, color, and life from start to finish. A masterpiece filled with black excellence, astonishing music videos, and messages that last forever. Directed, written, and executive produced by Beyonce, Black Is King is a visual companion to the 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift. Beyoncé’s creativity, talent, and humility are absolutely incomparable, she is so far in the distance, so completely out of reach of her contemporaries. Her legacy is cemented and reinforced again and again with Black Is King complementing her repertoire gloriously.
All inspired by the 2019 live action remake of The Lion King, Beyonce took on the speaking role of Nala, the eventual queen. Black Is King is a visually stunning re-imagining of the Lion King through visuals, fashion, poetry, dance, and the juxtaposition of African and Black culture and heritage. The visual not only narrates black culture, but it also teaches us that there is a king or queen hidden inside of us waiting to shine and rise, the true importance of ancestry and of being human.
From the opening minutes of Bigger to the closing minutes of Black Parade, tears were pouring down my face. Every single scene is absolutely gorgeous, rivaling traditional and contemporary cinematography while delivering a beautiful soundtrack. It was a journey through a thousand worlds and so beautifully narrated, from the fashion, dancing, cinematography, and symbolism. It depicts beautiful unique moments of portrayal from black families while still tying the storyline to The Lion King. The Lion King: The Gift visual album showcased over 17 songs that were brought to life on-screen. Don’t Jealous Me, Mood 4 Eva, Brown Skin Girl, and My Power would have to be the best visual videos I have ever seen.
As a brown-skinned girl, I was in tears when Brown-Skin Girl came on because of the creative visuals and seeing all the black beauty. Seeing us celebrated in a positive way that shows the world just how beautiful our skin is without any judgement. To see Blue Ivy in her element laughing, having fun with her mother and embracing her beauty as a young girl warms my heart. We can’t forget some of the amazing cameos in the video from Lupita Nyong’o or Naomi Campbell. I especially love the moment between Beyonce and Kelly Rowland singing together.
Black Is King showcased the beauty of our culture and where it comes from. The true beauty of what we look like, our skin, and our manner. For people who have spent centuries being told they are not beautiful, they are not worthy, they will never stand to reach their dreams, Black is King is really telling us, hey, you are beautiful and you are worth it.
I feel it displays our power and confidence as we persevere through the hatred, pain, and violence inflicted upon us. This film is not just a labor of love, it’s a deliberate and intentional effort to illuminate the glory of African culture and all the children through traditions. The artists featured on both the soundtrack and in the video are representative of the complexity and beauty of black art.
Beyoncé proves time and time again how talented she is, showing love to her culture, her roots, and her music. Beyonce’s ability to completely innovate the meaning of albums and music knows no bounds. Her ability to lift up black voices and creatives is equally as compelling.
The intention of this visual album is clear, “The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant,” stated by Beyonce on her Instagram back in June. “This is a story of how the people left MOST BROKEN have EXTRAORDINARY gifts.” You can tell how much thought went into each detail of this film by how effortlessly her fashion, dance, and music videos flowed through the storyline. Queen B does a great job visually showing the messages young men internalize but does an even better job reminding them that black is king.
Beyoncé merged music, performance, storytelling, art, and fashion in a quintessential way, all while raising the bar from her last visual album, Lemonade. It’s 90 minutes of endless imagery and beauty, with Beyoncé serving as the film’s narrator. But she’s not the only star here. A diverse crop of relatively new Black actors and performers are tasked with passing down the powerful yet painful lessons of Disney’s The Lion King.
Sometimes this is done through interpretive dance, and other times through voice overs, as the camera pans around to vibrant colorful locations in California, Africa, London, and Belgium. Perfect for kids and adults, Beyoncé vividly and intentionally centers Blackness, during a time where most have come to fear the term, or mischaracterize and weaponize it. And it’s done through a medium that Beyoncé has conquered time and time again: music.
All I can say is that as black people, we are talented beyond your imagination. There is so much to love about race. The beauty, the culture, the ability to go above and beyond our dreams. Black Is King acknowledges, appreciates, uplifts, empowers, and celebrates the beauty of our black and brown brothers and sisters. We should look at this film and be reminded of how no one can steal our joy. Keep writing, keep smiling, and keep pushing towards your dreams.