Last week, the dogged detective work of the fandom revealed that the singer will soon release a visual album called Black Is King days before the official announcement. Inspired by the songs from The Lion King: The Gift — a project that was released alongside the live action Lion King reboot last summer — Black Is King will tell the story of a young man who embarks on an epic trek back to his roots, discovering his true power along the way.
It's an obvious callback to Simba's tumultuous journey in The Lion King, but the Disney+ production has a deeper, more timely message for the Black community. As we fight tirelessly for our rights today, Beyoncé stresses the importance of knowing who and what we came from. The project is a modern retelling of Black history, grounding the triumphs and tribulations of Black people in the place where our story first began: Africa.
"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," she captioned a lengthy Instagram post sharing the trailer.
"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," Beyoncé continued. "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."
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The Gift is a 27-song album, and many of the songs will likely make an appearance in Black Is King, but fans can definitely expect to see the original, African-inspired tracks in the project. Beyoncé recruited some of the best musicians on the continent to contribute to the work, calling on acts like Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Salatiel, Shatta Wale, Busiswa, and more to add their styles to the album's sounds.
And the resulting project, born from that careful selection of Afrobeats, South African house, and hip hop, inspired Beyoncé to create an entire fantasy world over the course of a year to share with her fans.
Self-written, directed, and executed by the Queen herself, Black Is King marks Beyoncé's third visual album. Her self-titled album quite literally broke the internet in 2013, and she followed it up with Lemonade just three years later. Looking at her history, we really shouldn't have been surprised that she was working on something massive connected to The Gift; it didn't make sense that tunes like "Brown Skin Girl" and "My Power" would simply fade into the ether without proper visuals. And while we don't know exactly what to expect from the full-length project, we know that it's going to be beautiful and blickity-Black, a love letter to the culture from Beyoncé herself.
The full version of Black Is King will be available for streaming (and stanning) on Disney+ on July 31.