Really great stories can be told without details. They survive not because of the specific words they are told with, but because their characters, arcs, and lessons are universal. The Lion King is a story about talking safari animals, but Simba’s journey to be shamedly driven out of his house, losing his identity and returning to take his place in the cycle of life is full of powerful themes that go beyond a lion’s story.
Beyoncé’s visual album Black is kingWith the streaming on Disney +, the metaphor of Simba’s journey to the African diaspora is re-contextualized – removed from home, the memory of our royal family denied and stood up to regain our cultural heritage. Set with music from Beyoncé’s curated album 2019 The Lion King: The Gift, Black is king is an invitation to enjoy the diversity and beauty of the African continent and to celebrate its survival.
Black is king occupies live actors to play their analogs The Lion King’s myth. There is a boy who plays the lost and future king, a dark-glamorous mentor who exiles his young rival, a royal woman whose power to revive the young king’s sleeping family is to recognize her own, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa (No other can be Mufasa). With black actors in these roles, Black is king turns the story of a lion into a treatise on blackness and legacy in which we don’t have to wait to be kings.
Black is king turns the story of a lion into a treatise on blackness and legacy in which we don’t have to wait to be kings.
Come in early Black is kingIn a spoken pause, Beyoncé says that “it will make black synonymous with fame.” Every moment of the visual album drips with exactly this intention. It’s wonderful to see a purely black cast of actors, dancers, guest stars and album collaborators (including Pharrell, Tierra Whack, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell and Kelly Rowland) appear amidst the film’s breathtaking settings and settings. It’s great to see the beats from The Lion King Play in live action, modernized metaphor. It’s wonderful to see that Beyoncé’s trademark appears flawlessly in hair, costume and choreography every moment she appears. Black is king presents Beyoncé’s fame as common glory, the birthright of her people.
Every single element of Black is king is so perfectly focused on the screen that it’s tempting to figure out the hours worked to create every costume, every crisp second of choreography, every elaborate braided hairstyle, and the genius it took to put them all together . The math would require a supercomputer. Beyoncé has proven hundreds of times that she is an artist, but no parallel Black is king is proof that their holistic flawlessness is more than the sum of their individual arts. She sings, dances, stages, produces and acts, yes, but above all the things she does Beyonces.
The verb, to Beyoncéis the act of being the only artist that exists at her level. It is magical, which may explain why it is watching Black is king feels like a summary of the magic of the black girls, the magic of the ancestors and the magic of the kings in our DNA.
Black is King is now streaming on Disney +.
WATCH: What you can expect from the best 30-day trial versions