If you haven’t already heard the news, Beyoncè just released a visual album, titled “Black is King”. The album is streaming on Disney Plus and she said in her announcement that it is ““meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry.”
But what exactly is “Black is King” about?
Beyoncè worked on the album for over a year, alongside many other Black artists. It was produced by her own production company, Parkwood Entertainment. The visual album includes music videos for “The Lion King: The Gift” and highlights themes of identity, strength, and race, in a storyline similar to The Lion King. The story follows a young boy in his search of identity and place in the world, and includes voice-overs from characters in the movie.
The album was shot all over the world, including South Africa, Belgium, West African countries, New York, Los Angeles, and London. Beyoncè wanted to capture a complete look at the many Black cultures and customs across the world and said how she spent a lot of time learning about these cultures.
“Black is the color of my true love’s skin,” Beyoncé says in the beginning of the album. “Coils and hair catching centuries of prayers spread through a smoke. You are welcome to come home to yourself. Let Black be synonymous with glory.”
The album was done in collaboration with many incredible artists, including Emmanuel Adjei, Blitz Bazawule, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch, Jake Nava and Kwasi Fordjour. Other singers and celebrities appear in the actual music videos. Beyoncè’s husband, Jay-Z appears in “MOOD 4 EVA” and her daughter, Blue Ivy, is shown throughout most of the videos. In addition to her own family, Beyoncè also included Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell and Kelly Rowland in the song “BROWN SKIN GIRL.”
There’s no denying this visual album has been long-awaited (as are most things by Beyoncè). The album has so far been faced with some backlash, as some critics said it relies too heavily on the stereotypes of African culture. However, a majority of reviews are positive and praise Beyoncè for her extensive work on the album.
To stream “Black is King” for yourself, it is available now on Disney Plus.