Black is King is art before music

written by: Gus Nations IV
Photo courtesy of
Beyonce’s newest album, Black is King, is a moving and unique release that not only celebrates African culture but also provides a captivating visual story. Her album was released on Disney+ in the middle of the summer.

Beyoncé’s most recent album gained a different look as she took to Disney to provide her fans with new music in the form of a visual album. Little needs to be said about the quality of a Disney production. 

Visually the album was stunning, with rich colors and extravagant outfits; Beyoncé provides a show to accompany the solid music we have  come to expect from her after so many years. 

While some songs seemed slightly underproduced and reliant on visuals to tell the story, the music is the least important aspect of the album (yes, I went there).

 In such a socially polarized era, Beyoncé provided possibly the most important art piece  of the year. 

While the music itself is undoubtedly important, Black is King is a celebration of African culture in the purest sense. The narrative, intertwined and inspired by The Lion King, provides a look into the beauty of African culture and the place it has in virtually every aspect of our media today.

 The story follows a young prince cast aside by the world as a baby and his journey toward the realization that he is capable and beautiful in his own right. This character provides an obvious parallel to the  opinion of African culture. 

Beyoncé seeks to create a work of art that idolizes and puts Black culture on a pedestal,  allowing for people to consume it in a way that ensures awe. 

This album was always intended to be less of a musical vignette and more of a genre- defining epic that knows its role as a socially relevant and important piece of art. By teaming up with Disney, Beyoncé knew that her album would reach more people, including a younger audience. 

The tribal themes of the music added to the majesty of the album as a whole. The portrayal of the characters in traditional African garb juxtaposed with scenes of normal life in the city for Africans was a welcome look at a culture whose beauty is too often overlooked. 

If this album did one thing for me, it made me realize that not only is there a place for African culture in mainstream media, but there is a place for every culture. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed this album; if not for the music, then for its place in the culture. 

While the music itself was a little underwhelming, this visual album was a much needed breath of fresh air in the social climate of the country and even the world. Beyoncé has done it again and will undoubtedly continue to provide us with socially relevant art for years to come.