Beyoncé’s highly anticipated Black is King visual album is now available to stream on Disney+. The project started out as a companion to her curated The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack, but quickly became its own work. Even though the album shares the same songs as the soundtrack, Beyoncé’s film more than stands on its own.
The artist directed and wrote the project, which was shot in locations around the world. “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,” the artist shared on Instagram.
The almost 90-minute film features countless cultural allusions and moving lyrics. “Let Black be synonymous with joy,” the artist says in Black is King’s opening minutes. The first part of the film follows an abstraction of themes and stories explored in The Lion King, in which Beyoncé voiced Nala last year, and The Gift, but a second part of the album uses audio snippets to examine the Black experience in American today.
Though the film represents well over a year of intense work, the recent action of Black Lives Matter activists and the resulting nation-wide reckoning with systemic racism have in many ways made the film even more poignant.
“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,” Beyoncé wrote. “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.”
Known for her sartorial storytelling, Beyoncé’s wardrobe in the film pays homage to many Black histories and cultures. She worked with her longtime stylist and costume designer Zerina Akers to curate the looks. In one of the film’s opening sequences, Beyoncé wears a classic blue gown by Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, one of too-few Black creative directors in high fashion. For the rest of the album, Akers weaves in pieces from both established brands and up-and-coming independent designers. Erdem’s florals define a pink tea party scene with Kelly Rowland, Tina Knowles, and Blue Ivy Carter (one of many cameos from the artist’s three children). Naomi Campbell and Lupita Nyong’o are among many celebrities who, in an ode to Black beauty and womanhood, wear stunning ball gowns and gems for the song “Brown Skin Girl.”
Beauty and accessories also play key roles in the film’s visual language. The use of styles including Fulani braids and Bantu knots pay homage to both the Fula and Bantu (among other) people. Throughout the film, gold jewelry establishes Beyoncé regal character, and sunglasses and inventive headpieces frequently add just as much to the story as any other elements.
Black is King is one of many projects that demonstrates Beyoncé’s artistry in many mediums. Outside of her work as a recording artist and actress, the star’s legendary Coachella performance, and its accompanying documentary Homecoming, have shown her prowess as a performing artist and filmmaker. Her recent song “Black Parade,” released on Juneteenth this year, made powerful political statements, and she recently won the 2020 BET Humanitarian of the Year award.
“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,” the star said. “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.”
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createdAt:Fri, 31 Jul 2020 20:07:55 +0000