With her new contemporary film, Beyoncé manages to beautifully capture Black love, Black life, Black culture, and Black excellence.
The film/visual album, Beyoncé’s cinematic ode to her son Sir Carter and Black ancestry, features dazzling cultural dance numbers, shocking song visuals, and spotlights many other POC artists.
Black is King has been highly anticipated since Bey dropped the teaser trailer on July 19th, which makes today an exciting and long-awaited day for many. This latest project was just added to Disney+, joining Hamilton in the site’s collection of musically based films.
Bey has shown us time and time again how skillfully she is able to string together her joy, pain, and passion into poem-like words that she included in her visual albums with past works like the self-titled Beyoncé and Lemonade; but with this film, she presented us with another talent.
The masterfully shot visuals and in-film music videos were directed by the Queen herself over a year across various places in the world including New York, Los Angeles, South Africa, West Africa, London, and Belgium. Black is King was inspired by Bey’s 2019 album titled “Lion King: The Gift” which she produced for the 2019 live-action Lion king movie, the same movie in which she voiced the character of Nala.
Black is King explores Blackness all over the globe–from the roots of it in Africa to the cities in London. Expressing her personal experiences as a Black woman was a prominent theme, yet is nothing new to the artist. In fact, it seems to be something she strives for (Remember the yellow dress and bat in Lemonade?) This time around, however, it seems she meant to display an experience that we as a culture can connect and relate to.
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I typically keep comments short and sweet, but I just watched the trailer with my family and I’m excited. 🎶please don’t get me hype🎶🤪 “Black Is King” is a labor of love. It is my passion project that I have been filming, researching and editing day and night for the past year. I’ve given it my all and now it’s yours. It was originally filmed as a companion piece to “The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry. I could never have imagined that a year later, all the hard work that went into this production would serve a greater purpose. The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. We are all in search of safety and light. Many of us want change. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books. With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. I spent a lot of time exploring and absorbing the lessons of past generations and the rich history of different African customs. While working on this film, there were moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed, like many others on my creative team, but it was important to create a film that instills pride and knowledge. I only hope that from watching, you leave feeling inspired to continue building a legacy that impacts the world in an immeasurable way. I pray that everyone sees the beauty and resilience of our people. This is a story of how the people left MOST BROKEN have EXTRAORDINARY gifts.❤️✊🏾 Thank you to Blitz, Emmanuel, Ibra, Jenn, Pierre, Dikayl, Kwasi and all the brilliant creatives. Thank you to all at Disney for giving this Black woman the opportunity to tell this story. This experience has been an affirmation of a grander purpose. My only goal is that you watch it with your family and that it gives you pride. Love y’all, B
On Instagram, in an uncharacteristically long post from Bey, she wrote “with this visual album I wanted to present elements of Black history and African American tradition with a modern twist and universal message of what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy.” Personally, I feel like Beyoncé accomplished her goal. After watching the film, I have never felt more empowered, proud to be Black, and inspired to take back my history and ancestry, and learn it.
The film celebrates Blackness like a holy gift from our ancestors and seems to bring us all together by if nothing more than our skin and culture. With each new song there seems to be a completely different environment that is still all brought together by one, well, maybe two, common denominators.
Black is King is a love letter, appreciation letter, and a PSA that our culture and ancestry are beautiful even when our history is not.
Now, there’s no doubt that there’s an array of hits in this film like “Mood 4 Eva” that features a guest appearance by hubby Jay-Z and “Already” with spectacular vocal appearances from Ghanaian singer Shatta. But my favorite visual and song was definitely “Brown Skin Girl.”
“Brown Skin Girl” was Bye’s love letter to dark-skinned and brown skin women. I felt a deep connection and appreciation while listening to it right after seeing Lion King for the first time. And if I thought it couldn’t get any better, with beautiful lyrics like “There’s complexity in complexions and your skin shone like diamonds,” I was completely wrong. This scene features beautiful Black debutantes and debutants, the ever-elegant Naomi Campbell, Kelly Rowland, and Lupita Nyong’o (who all were name-dropped in the song). None other than Miss Blue Ivy herself offered her vocals on the track as well as her beauty in the visual.
Beyoncé is only one example of Black excellence, but she’s a powerful one nonetheless. Black is King is a love letter, appreciation letter, and a PSA that our culture and ancestry are beautiful even when our history is not. And though I’ve tried my hardest, you can’t understand the full experience until you’ve watched it yourself. Stream it now on Disney+.
By Kendal Amos, Sophomore, Little Black Pearl