Inside Beyoncé’s queendom: How ‘Black Is King’ is a ‘form of protest’
In her “Homecoming” film — which documented her epic Coachella takeover as the first African-American woman to headline the festival in 2018 — Beyoncé sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is known as the black national anthem.
And no doubt, Bey has used her voice — and vision — to lift up other black culture creators along with her. She’s doing it again with “Black Is King,” her new visual album — a companion to her African-inspired “The Lion King: The Gift” LP from last summer — which premieres Friday on Disney+.
“Black excellence is a form of protest,” Beyoncé said when she dropped her empowering “Black Parade” single on Juneteenth to benefit black-owned small businesses in need.
Here, The Post goes inside 38-year-old Beyoncé’s queendom to look at the black artists she has supported during her reign, from “Lemonade” to “Black Is King.”
Melina Matsoukas, director
When Bey pulls one of her classic surprises just for you, you know you are in the inner-inner circle. That’s exactly what happened when Beyoncé made an appearance at last year’s AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Denzel Washington to present the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal to Matsoukas, who, after directing such Beyoncé videos as “Upgrade U” and “Diva,” was instrumental in the making of the “Lemonade” film by lensing the already-legendary “Formation” clip.
In presenting the award, Beyoncé said, “[Matsoukas] is holding up a mirror for people who look like you and me to see ourselves, saying, ‘You are beautiful, and your stories matter.’ ” And Matsoukas, 39, did exactly that when she made her feature directorial debut with the powerful “Queen & Slim” in November.
Blitz the Ambassador, director-rapper
The 38-year-old Brooklyn-based, Ghanaian-born artist — whose real name is Samuel Bazawule — shot his royal shot as one of the directors in “Black Is King.” But he’s not the only director of African descent whose skills bring an authentic vision to “Black Is King”: Beyoncé also squadded up with Ghanaian-Dutch filmmaker Emmanuel Adjei, Nigerian-British director Jenn Nkiru and Ibra Ake, the Nigerian-American who produced Childish Gambino’s Grammy Award-winning “This Is America” video.
Before he hit the upper regions of the Billboard Hot 100 with a remix of “Roses,” this 33-year-old Brooklyn-born artist of Guyanese descent (born Carlos St. John) was already getting down with Beyoncé, her 8-year-old daughter Blue Ivy — in her singing and songwriting debut — and Nigeria’s Wizkid on “Brown Skin Girl” from “The Lion King: The Gift.” Among the other artists who represented Mother Africa on the LP are Nigeria’s Burna Boy (“Ja Ara E”), Cameroon’s Salatiel (“Water”) and Ghana’s Lord Afrixana (“Don’t Jealous Me”).
Chloe x Halle, singers
After Beyoncé caught wind of their viral YouTube cover of her single “Pretty Hurts,” sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey — 22 and 20, respectively — were signed to Bey’s Parkwood Entertainment in 2015. Mrs. Carter then featured the sister act in her “Lemonade” film and brought them along as the opening act for the European leg of her “Formation World Tour.”
Obviously, she taught them well: They received two Grammy nods for their debut album, 2018’s “The Kids Are Alright,” and recently followed that LP up with “Ungodly Hour.”
“Just like the entire world, we love Beyoncé with our whole hearts,” Chloe recently told The Post. “She’s a fantastic businesswoman, and she’s not afraid to take control and be the boss.” Added Halle: “Just watching her — watching her work, watching her live — I mean, it’s inspirational. And we aspire to one day be like her.”
Big Freedia, rapper
The gender-fluid Queen of Bounce brought some New Orleans realness to Beyoncé’s “Formation” video, uttering the immortal words: “I did not come to play with you hoes, haha/I came to slay, bitch.” And slay Freedia did: B also sampled her voice at the beginning of her “Formation World Tour” concerts.
“It was a blessing to get that phone call. I was very shocked,” Freedia, 42, once told The Post. “I was like, ‘The Queen B knows who I am!’ I kind of lost it in my mind when it came out. That’s when I knew it was real.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, writer
This Nigerian writer, 42, had her “We Should All Be Feminists” speech sampled in Beyoncé’s “Flawless” single, which delivered some powerful words: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.’ … Feminist: The person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
Tyler Mitchell, photographer
When Beyoncé graced the September 2018 cover of Vogue magazine, she had control of choosing the photographer. And the star used the opportunity to make something bigger than a style statement: She picked then 23-year-old Mitchell, making him the first black photographer ever to shoot the cover of the fashion bible.
“When she sat down for me, there was immediately the kind of comfort level you’d have with a friend, which was quite unexpected,” Mitchell, now 25, told Vogue. “You’d imagine someone as famous as Beyoncé to be protective of her image, but she was really an open book.”
Clearly, Mitchell drew some divine inspiration from Bey: Last year, one of his Vogue photos of the singer was acquired by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection.