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Some people simply know when to take the baton and run with it. At a point in time when racial tensions and social injustice are at an all time high, here comes none other than Beyoncé Knowles-Carter who takes us on a journey of black excellence with her latest visual album, Black Is King. Not as a savior of any sort, more like a pillar of cultural guidance and purposeful future. “I see us reflected in the world’s most heavenly things, be bigger than the picture they framed for us to see,” Beyoncé stated on record in regard to Black Is King.
Intentionally setting a stunning flow of visuals, each track is designed and presented to remind you of an ancestry of African American culture that didn’t start off in chains. Rather, centering on the ripe inheritance of a motherland that has and always will be rich in promise and abundance. Created on the basis of 2019’s The Lion King: The Gift, the 85-minute compilation film was both produced and directed by the Houston native. The original 14-track LP, which received rave reviews upon its release last year, includes features by Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, and hubby Jay-Z. A deluxe set was then rolled out in August of 2020 with three additional new tracks including “Already”, “Black Parade” and “Brown Skin Girl.”
In the opening trailer Beyoncé kneels down to a young boy and starkly states, “You cannot wear a crown with your head down.” This idea comes full circle on the most masterful all-around song on the soundtrack titled “Already” featuring Shatta Wale and Major Lazer. The track features a video complete with colorful hairpieces, tribal dancing, a group of well-dressed black men stepping in unison, and an array of musical symphonies just to name a few. Showcasing grand parts of African culture with unforced elegance and a beat of showmanship that is simply unmatched. She sways from one scene to the next encompassing a different character, embracing them all with just the right amount of essence required. Displaying the love of one’s black lineage. The end result reflecting every facet of self-pride that should be celebrated for what it is and not disparaged for what is depicted to be.
Photo Credit: Travis Matthews
In these most recent songs, the message is clear. Do not bury your head in a time of disparity, keep it high and be proud of who you are. And from where you came. “We got rhythm, we got pride, we birth kings, we birth tribes” and “I can’t forget my history is her story,” she chimes on the strong lead single of “Black Parade” as bongos and piccolos wave in the background sounding more like a personal invite to her exclusive safari. Through every set, she dances with ancestors in her step. Leaving you with fleeting and high inspiring impressions with no room to recall any remnants of a tormented past. “Brown Skin Girl” featuring her oldest daughter Blue Ivy along with SAINt JHN and Wizkid is the ultimate female empowerment anthem, using the official video to showcase the beauty in every shade of a black woman. The likes of mom Tina Knowles, long-time friend Kelly Rowland, Lupita Nyongo’ and Naomi Campbell, all get in on the mix. All of who help solidify a graceful yet powerful message.
In true Yoncé fashion, she does overdramatize at some points (similar to when she over sings at times). For example, she overuses the animal prints, attire and things of that nature repetitively. And some would argue that is a common misconception of the overall African culture. Not everyone from Africa walks around like that all the time. Actually, most African people don’t. However, for all it’s worth, Black Is King is dazzling. But also sensibly calculated. Beyoncé again shows she is not afraid to expand and explore her range of creative competence. And like one of the truly best entertainers of her time, if anyone could’ve brought the level of artistry and fruitfulness it took to bring this project to life, it is her. And like the patriarch that she is, she flat out let’s it soar! But then again, would we really expect anything different from the Queen at this point? Probably not.