Beyoncé has released her highly anticipated new visual album, Black Is King. Available to stream as a Disney Plus exclusive, the film serves as a refashioned companion to last year’s soundtrack The Lion King: The Gift. She’s said that it “reimagines the lessons of The Lion King for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns,” in the form of non-CGI, legitimately live-action filmmaking.
The initial trailers looked marvelous, turning to the same sort of vivid visual tapestries and stylistic shifts found in Lemonade. Its scope spans elaborate dance sequences, three continents, and so many wardrobe changes that it’s hard to keep up. Some famous friends and family, like Jay Z, Kelly Rowland, Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o, and her mother Tina Knowles-Lawson, make appearances throughout. Beyoncé’s someone with all the resources in the world at her disposal — in this case, the largest entertainment company in the world and her own astronomical net worth — but still purposes them into work with every bit of artistic intention to match its scale.
As something of a teaser for those still on the fence, she released a video for the film’s “Already,” which features Shatta Wale and Major Lazer. It finds Beyoncé pulling off what might be some of her most challenging choreography yet, while celebrating African culture, dance, and costume design. This offers just a taste of the striking camera-work we've come to expect, alternating between slow, lucid zooms and lo-fi footage.
If you’re without a Disney Plus subscription, there’s unfortunately no free trial option to pull off the Tidal trick so many of us utilized when Lemonade and The Life of Pablo were exclusives back in 2016. So while it’s definitely something of a stopgap before her next proper album, this is unmistakably its own fully realized project.