Last month, Beyonce announced she would be releasing a visual album called ‘Black is King’ which would be released on Disney Plus on July 31. Today, she took a major step forward in her promotional campaign by releasing a minute long plus trailer for the album.
Image Credit: Billboard
The trailer features Beyonce in the role of the Lion King’s mother and a mix of sci-fi, modern and savage elements as well as dramatic music and dancing. The singer speaks over the video offering the following narrative. “You were formed by the heat of the galaxy. What a thing to be, both unique and familiar. To be one and the same, and still unlike any other.”
The album will be coming out two weeks after the one year anniversary of The Lion King’s theatrical release. Disney says the visual album “reimagines the lessons from the 2019 blockbuster for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.”
Black is King will feature a variety of well known musicians and actors including Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland (former Destiny’s Child), Pharrell Williams, Tina Knowles Lawson, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell, models Ade-Chuol and Adut Akech and many of the artists that are featured on Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album.
Collaborators include Beyonce’s frequent music video collaborator, Jake Nave and Pierre Debusschere, creative director Ibra Ake, filmmakers Blitz Nazawule, Emmnuel Adjei, Dikayl Rimmash, Jenn Nikru and Kwasi Fordjour. Beyonce is credited as the film’s writer, director and executive producer.
Although many are looking forward to the release of the album, it has gotten some backlash by people who claim Beyonce is stereotyping African people. Nigerian college student Grace Bassey took to Twitter when she saw imagery from the album appear on the social media platform.
“There is this constant joke that Africans wake up and see animals running around,” said Bassey, 19, who studies international relations in the southwestern state of Ekiti. “People are so surprised to know that we go to the spa.”
Another user wrote “This narrative is getting boring. We don’t wake up with white chalk on our faces or live in blue huts.”
Others pointed out that while Beyonce has toured all over Europe and America, she has yet to perform in Africa.
Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson responded to comments by saying, ““My point in posting this is simply that those who are criticizing the film (before they even see it) saying it’s unauthentic, upset that B doesn’t actually go to Africa or say that Bey is simply using African cultures for gain are wrong because 1. She makes less with her Afrocentric content,” she wrote. “2. She’s actually taken the time, studied African costumes and such and didn’t just throw this together.”
In addition to the film appearing on Disney Plus, it has also secured a distribution deal that will allow it to be shown on much of the African continent. It is hopeful that it will be well received by viewers everywhere.