There’sThere’s a quote only minutes into Beyoncé’s new visual album Black Is King that inadvertently winks at the icon’s 30-plus year evolution: “History is your future. One day you will meet yourself back where you started, but stronger.”
Mounted atop a pinto horse, and with individually beaded braids and tusks crowned on her head, Beyoncé speaks the promise. She once again narrates through the penmanship of Somali-British poet, Warsan Shire, whose verses were prominently featured in Beyoncé’s 2016 HBO film Lemonade. The musician has long surpassed the triumphs of an entertainer, but with this new film, she aims for something bigger: paying reverence to the African diaspora and Black futurism that lies ahead.
Though afrofusion isn’t a common sound across Beyoncé’s entire catalog — save for the partially Fela Kuti-inspired 2011 effort 4 — in recent years, the singer has made a serious investment into amplifying the Black narrative through her art. With Black Is King, she’s not only imagined her new album as a visual journey, but transformed one of Disney’s classic films, The Lion King, as an acknowledgment of the multi-generational sovereignty of Black pride. With varying collaborations, the album and film stands apart from Beyoncé’s previous six solo albums, a testament to weaving other perspectives into her work.