Beyoncé’s much-anticipated visual album, Black is King made its way to Disney Plus early this morning. Featuring Blue Ivy, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Tierra Whack, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell, Kelly Rowland, Pharell Williams, Jessie Reyez, several breakout African artists like Mr Eazi and Yemi Alade, and more with scenes from every corner of the world.
“This visual album from Beyoncé reimagines the lessons of The Lion King for today’s young kings and queens in search of their crowns,” the album’s Disney Plus description reads. “Let Black be synonymous with glory,” Beyoncé says in narration before the first song of the visual album, “Bigger,” begins.
Black is King tells the story of “a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity.” In narration, we see the young king guided by his ancestors and his father Mufasa to acknowledge his personal power and “reclaim his home and throne.” Inspired by her work on the live action Lion King film in which she voiced Simba’s childhood best friend and eventual love Nala and based on The Lion King: The Gift, the film’s soundtrack curate by Queen Bey. Despite being inspired by the Shakespearean tale of Simba the lion and the animals in his kingdom, Black is King is undeniably tied to the human world, a celebration of Black experience and cultures around the world.
The eighty-five-minute film includes narration, dance, and music to tell the young king’s story over the course of fifteen songs (seventeen if you include the MeLo-X remix of “Find Your Way Back” and the extended version of “Black Parade”).
As if dropping a stunning visual album wasn’t a major event on its own, Beyoncé also shared the music video for the song “Already” hours before the film debuted on Disney Plus.
“No true king ever dies,” Beyoncé says in the narration of Black is King, yet it’s queen Beyoncé who continues to prove her incredible strength as an artist, storyteller, and cultural influence with this momentous visual album.