Beyoncé's Black is King now available to stream on Disney+!
Posted on 31 July 2020
The day has finally come for both The Lion King fans and Beyoncé fans alike. Queen Bee's highly anticipated concept album slash musical film, Black is King, has now been released on Disney Plus! Subscribers to the streaming service can now gain unlimited access to this tie-in album, which serves as a visual companion to the 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift and The Lion King 2019 live-action remake.
Inspired by the music of The Lion King: The Gift, Black is King follows a young African King, who is disowned by his family and cast away into a treacherous world. He ends up embarking on a journey of self-discovery, betrayal, and love to reclaim his rightful throne, enlisting the help of his ancestors and childhood love to guide him all the way through to the end. The story of Black is King is brilliantly told through the voices of present-day African-Americans and Black people.
Beyoncé's film Black is King will probably not be released on Spotify due to it being a full-length movie. However, the album that the film is based on, The Lion King: The Gift (2019), is available to stream on the platform. The pop diva also released a deluxe edition of the album today, which can be found on Spotify for your auditory pleasure.
Black is King features the new song by Beyoncé entitled "Black Parade", which the singer released as a single for the visual album on Juneteenth (19 June 2020), a holiday for celebrating the emancipation of American slaves that originated in Beyoncé's home state of Texas. The track was also released in the wake of the George Floyd murder that sparked Black Lives Matter protests amidst the coronavirus pandemic. All proceeds from the song will go to help the BeyGOOD's Black Business Impact Fund. The song "Black Parade" has been included in the deluxe edition of The Gift alongside the previously released hit songs "Mood 4 Eva", "Brown Skin Girl", and "My Power".
The runtime for Black is King is approximately 85 minutes long, making this Beyoncé film a feature-length outing.
The cast of Black is King stars Beyoncé alongside other artists featured on The Lion King: The Gift album, including Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Shatta Wale, Wizkid, and Salatiel. Yoncé's husband Jay-Z and daughter Blue Ivy also make an appearance in the film, along with her former Destiny's Child bandmate Kelly Rowland, South African actors Warren Masemola and Nandi Madida, and Nigerian actor Papi Ojo.
The cast is completed by Lupita Nyong'o, Pharell Williams, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Naomi Campbell, Sir Carter, Rumi Carter, Aweng Ade-Chuol, Folajomi "FJ" Akinmurele, Adut Akech, Mary Twala, Jessie Reyez, Connie Chiume, Nyaniso Dzedze, and Moonchild Sanelly.
Archive recordings of JD McCrary as Young Simba and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar also can be seen and heard in the film.
Filming for Black is King took place in late 2019 on location in South Africa, West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana) and in New York, LA, Belgium, and London.
The development of Black is King has a moving backstory. When the 2019 photorealistic computer-animated remake of Disney's 1994 film The Lion King was released in cinemas, it was paired with a tie-in album entitled The Lion King: The Gift. The album was curated and produced by none other than Beyoncé, who dubbed it "a love letter to Africa."
The singer-actress sought out "the best talent from Africa" to complete her vision. She believed The Gift "is the first soundtrack where it becomes visual in your mind," which is why making Black is King was a no-brainer. Each song was carefully crafted to reflect the film's iconic storytelling and allows the listener to imagine their own imagery whilst hearing something completely contemporary and unique.
Critical reception of Black is King has been overwhelmingly positive. Matt Donnelly of Variety wrote that Beyoncé has pushed "the boundaries of what many have come to expect from the Disney machine" and later called the film "the boldest brand statement ever from Disney" and "the most direct confrontation of a timely societal discussion around racism that Disney Plus has seen."
Black is King has also been praised by David Smyth of the Evening Standard for its celebration of African ancestry and by Chanté Joseph of The Guardian for speaking to "the beauty and richness of blackness."
Black is King is now available to watch with a valid subscription to Disney Plus. You definitely don't want to miss this artistic triumph, featuring the spirit of The Lion King in a modern context!
By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels
Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.