Music Review: Beyonce’s ‘Black Is King’ Talks About History


Beyonce’s new film takes you on a journey of black art, music, history and fashion as the superstar transports you to Africa to tell the story of a young man in search of his crown, matched to epic songs she created while inspired by The Lion King.

The voyage feels even more special during the current state of the world, as the black experience has been looked at closely in the wake of the many deaths of black people. And for those of us who have been stuck in place for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the voyage and escapism are welcomed.

In Black Is King, which debuted Friday on Disney+, Beyonce continues to dig deep into her roots and share her discovery with the world, like she did in Lemonade. Black pride is the center of the film, with African artists strongly represented, as Beyonce shares her stage with Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Mr Eazi, Busiswa, Salatiel, Yemi Alade, Moonchild Sanelly and more.

They add a great deal of energy and beauty to the film through lyrical delivery, eye-popping and sharp choreography, and bright and elegant costumes bringing the songs from The Lion King: The Gift to life. That album was inspired by the time Beyonce spent voicing the character of Nala in the latest version of The Lion King. Audio from the animated film are included, but its the newer passages that truly resonate.

When its all said and done, I dont even know my own native tongue. And if I cant speak myself, I cant think myself. And if I cant think myself, I cant be myself. And if I cant be myself, I will never know me, a man says. So Uncle Sam, tell me this, if I will ever know me, how can you?


Later in the film, Beyonce says: We have always been wonderful. I see us reflected in the worlds most heavenly things. Black is king. We were beauty before they knew what beauty was.

That leads into Brown Skin Girl, as Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyongo and Kelly Rowland queens that Beyonce name-drops on the song make appearances alongside other black and brown women and girls in a deep celebration of melanin, diversity and sisterhood. Beyonce singing because youre beautiful, face-to-face with Rowland, could induce tears.

Black Is King also highlights musics royal family: The Carters. Jay-Z makes a stunning appearance on Mood 4 Eva, while 8t-year-old Blue Ivy steals the spotlight every time she appears on screen. Tina Knowles as well as Sir and Rumi Carter who the film is dedicated to are also present.

It’s a family affair, with musical cousin’s both familiar and on the verge part of the safari ride.

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