The visual album, which follows Beyoncé’s role as the voice of Nala in the remake of The Lion King, centers Black history and African culture, and is meant to speak to a younger audience and Black families. The music feature in the film comes from the album The Lion King: The Gift.
Ahead of the visual album’s release, Beyoncé reflected on her intentions when creating “Black Is King.” In an Instagram post, she revealed, “With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy.”
While Beyoncé’s music and narrations drive the movie’s story forward, she’s not at work alone. Read on for the musical features and special guest appearances you can expect to see in Black Is King. BEWARE OF MILD SPOILERS.
The Cast Includes Beyonce’s Family & A Number of A-List Celebrities
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I typically keep comments short and sweet, but I just watched the trailer with my family and I’m excited. 🎶please don’t get me hype🎶🤪 “Black Is King” is a labor of love. It is my passion project that I have been filming, researching and editing day and night for the past year. I’ve given it my all and now it’s yours. It was originally filmed as a companion piece to “The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry. I could never have imagined that a year later, all the hard work that went into this production would serve a greater purpose. The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. We are all in search of safety and light. Many of us want change. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books. With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. I spent a lot of time exploring and absorbing the lessons of past generations and the rich history of different African customs. While working on this film, there were moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed, like many others on my creative team, but it was important to create a film that instills pride and knowledge. I only hope that from watching, you leave feeling inspired to continue building a legacy that impacts the world in an immeasurable way. I pray that everyone sees the beauty and resilience of our people. This is a story of how the people left MOST BROKEN have EXTRAORDINARY gifts.❤️✊🏾 Thank you to Blitz, Emmanuel, Ibra, Jenn, Pierre, Dikayl, Kwasi and all the brilliant creatives. Thank you to all at Disney for giving this Black woman the opportunity to tell this story. This experience has been an affirmation of a grander purpose. My only goal is that you watch it with your family and that it gives you pride. Love y’all, B
Producing Black Is King was certainly a family affair for Beyoncé – her husband, rapper Jay-Z is credited as making a “special appearance,” as well as her mom Tina Knowles Lawson and children Blue Ivy Carter, Rumi Carter, and Sir Carter.
The album is supported by recording artists including Kelly Rowland (who got her start in Destiny’s Child with Beyoncé), 070 Shake, Childish Gambino, Jessie Reyez, Pharrell Williams, Nija, and Tierra Whack. Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, voiced Simba in the remake of The Lion King.
Kendrick Lamar features on the track “NILE;” “BROWN SKIN GIRL” features Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, and WizKid. “ALREADY” features Shatta Wale and Major Lazer, and “SCAR” is performed by 070 Shake and Jessie Reyez.
Lupita Nyong’o and Naomi Campbell also make appearances in the piece.
JD McCrary, per IMDb, plays Young Simba in the piece, which also features voice-overs and narrations by Lion King characters including Scar and Mufasa.
‘Black Is King’ Features African Artists to Help Honor ‘Diversity & Connectivity’ in the Cast
In addition to top American recording artists, Beyoncé’s music for the album is supported by African artists including Wizkid, Busiswa, Shatta Wale, Salatiel, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Tekno, Moonchild Sanelly, Lord Afrixana.
Tekno, Lord Afrixana, Mr Eazi, and Yemi Alade feature on the song “DON’T JEALOUS ME.” For the song “MOOD 4 EVA,” Beyoncé, JAY-Z, and Childish Gambino are joined by Malian Wassoulou musician Oumou Sangaré.
Models Aweng Choul and Adut Akech make special appearances in the visual album, as well.
In a statement, Disney and Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment told Variety, “The voyages of Black families, throughout time, are honored in a tale about a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity. His ancestors help guide him toward his destiny, and with his father’s teachings and guidance from his childhood love, he earns the virtues needed to reclaim his home and throne.”
Continuing, the companies added, “These timeless lessons are revealed and reflected through Black voices of today, now sitting in their own power. ‘Black Is King’ is an affirmation of a grand purpose, with lush visuals that celebrate Black resilience and culture. The film highlights the beauty of tradition and Black excellence.”
Additional cast, according to IMDb, includes Connie Chiume, Nyaniso Dzedze, Nandi Madida, Warren Masemola, and Mary Twala.