‘Black is King’: Beyoncé dedicates celebration of Black beauty, retelling of ‘Lion King’ to son
The trailblazer, 38, continued her push toward equality with the release of her raw and honest visual album “Black is King,” which explores the beauty of blackness that is at best undervalued and at worst discriminated against.
The trailblazer, 38, continued her push toward equality with the release of her raw and honest visual album “Black is King” (out on Disney+ Friday), which explores the beauty of blackness that is at best undervalued and at worst discriminated against.
Production on “Black is King” started one year ago as a companion piece to ”The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack, which Beyoncé produced after starring as Nala in the 2019 Disney remake. But her visual album has taken on new meaning following the reemergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and fight against police brutality and racism, social causes Beyoncé has lent her star power to.
“If you think you are insignificant, you better think again,” Beyoncé sings to a newborn baby cradled in her arm as waves wash against the shore and her flawlessly draped asymmetrical gown.
The all-encompassing experience takes viewers on a worldwide journey of a young king’s quest through self-identity — from Beyoncé’s backyard (literally) to Johannesburg and the Grand Canyon — by way of stunning visuals full of song, dance, fashion and breathtaking scenery.
In the opening scenes to “BIGGER,” Beyoncé marks a young boy’s face with white paint to anoint the future king, a similar act Rafiki performed on newborn Simba in the “Lion King.”
The future king is led astray on his discovery by betrayal on “Don’t Jealous Me” (where Beyoncé is draped in a yellow boa constrictor) and “SCAR” (where Mufasa is hit by a motorcycle, the equivalent to the original film’s wildebeest stampede.)
Like viewers watched Simba grow from a cub to a Lion over the course of “Hakuna Matata,” the young prince ages to a familiar face as the familiar tune plays overhead: Jay-Z (Shawn Carter).
The Carters are a major mood as they live in the lap of Black luxury while performing “MOOD FOR EVA,” complete with a garden tea party featuring Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles-Lawson and Destiny Child bandmate Kelly Rowland and a human chessboard where Beyoncé is rightfully Queen.
The star power didn’t stop there. Pharrell Williams made an appearance on “WATER” and the debutante-themed music video for “BROWN SKIN GIRL” featured Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o, Rowland, Knowles-Lawson and daughters Blue Ivy, 8, and Rumi Carter, 3.
“We have always been wonderful,” Beyoncé says while flawlessly blending spoken word, imagery and song. ”I see us reflected in the world’s most heavenly things. Black is King. We were beauty before they knew what beauty was.”
The real star of the visual film, however, is the raw, untapped talent from creators around the world that showcased their rich tradition and culture, history and lineage.
“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance,” said James Earl Jones, who voices Mufasa in “Lion King.” ”You need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope. We are all connected in the great circle of life.”
Beyoncé closed “Black is King” with a celestial performance of “SPIRIT” alongside a colorful choir and Blue Ivy, who made numerous appearances throughout her mother’s ”passion project.”
The songstress dedicated her ”labor of love” to her 3-year-old twin son, Sir Carter: “To all our sons and daughters, the sun and the moon bow for you. You are the keys to the kingdom.”