Last year, it was announced that Beyonce was joining the already phenomenal cast for the remake of the Lion King. With original cast members like James Earl Jones reprising their roles, while new actors like Donald Glover and Seth Rogen breathed new life into beloved characters, Beyonce’s sign on felt like the icing on the cake, the best possible thing her fans could receive from her. They were wrong.
We now know that Beyonce, ever the overachiever, worked not just a voiceover for the film and a companion album of the classic songs from the project, she also released a companion album The Gift that saw her collaborate with contemporary artists from the continent, putting a contemporary spin on the ideas expressed in the film. This was an event in and of itself, garnering global attention and some backlash (from Kenyan artists who felt slighted for not being included). There were some hints in the album that should have clued us in to the fact that the project was a companion to another project, the now announced Black Is King, Beyonce’s immersive film that retells the story of the Lion King by contemporizing it.
When the original trailer was released for the project, it created a wave of backlash, as Black Africans, still reeling from the global phenomenon that Black Panther became and the misrepresentation it has spawned in certain quarters, tried to discredit for perpetuating similar stereotypes. A new trailer from the Queen has arrived to allay fears and provide much needed context.
Here’s what we know for sure. Beyonce came to Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, and collaborated with local artists from each of these locales. Their unique flavours help to give the film its authenticity. Beyonce somehow also convinces African popstars to contribute to the project, their music providing the musical background for the story Beyonce tries to tell with Black Is King. There is still the plot to unravel, but at least we are sure that Beyonce is appreciating, not appropriating.
Did this raise your anticipation for the project or will you be skipping on July 31st?