Beyoncé’s love letter to Black people.
“We have always been wonderful. I see us reflected in the most heavenly things. Black is king. We were beauty before they knew what beauty was.”
Black is King is an incredibly uplifting visual album for Black people, bridging the gap between Black Americans and continental Africans. The film, which is the visual companion to her 2019 album, “The Lion King: The Gift,” includes an incredibly healing collection of beautiful visuals, from village huts to people dancing.
Black Is King is a gorgeous, visually inventive piece of storytelling, exploring the themes of Black legacy and generational learning through the thin veil of The Lion King’s story — a young prince is exiled from his home, comes to terms with his past, and takes back his homeland.
The film begins with a floating basket, a biblical reference to Moses. As Beyoncé walks down the beach, a “blue man” walks down the beach with her. This “blue man” is played by Stephen “Papi” Ojo, a Nigerian-born artist who represents a spirit watching over us; he is seen performing beside Beyoncé throughout the film.
In a background transition between songs, a man can be heard stating: “When it’s all said and done, I don’t even know my own native tongue. And if I can’t speak myself, I can’t think myself. And if I can’t think myself, I can’t be myself. And if I can’t be myself, I will never know me. So Uncle Sam, tell me this, if I will never know me, how can you?”
This song’s statement, followed by songs like “Brown Skin Girl”’ and “Black Parade,” really gives a sense of the issues we face as a people. Beyoncé tells us that yes, we have been stripped of our culture and oppressed throughout history, but look at us now. We have kept our sense of culture, we set trends, and we continue to create art that celebrates our lives.
Beyoncé and her team of dancers serve up exceptional choreography throughout the film. In the song “Already,” Beyoncé performs alongside Ghanian singer-songwriter Shatta Walle. “Brown Skinned Girl” is an excellent tribute to Black Girl Magic. Fashion icon Naomi Campbell, Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, Bey’s mother Tina Knowles, and daughter, Blue Ivy, show the world what Black female excellence looks like.
Black is King will immediately put you in a good mood. Beyoncé takes us on a journey through an awe-inspiring, lush landscape that is an absolute pleasure to watch.