Beyoncé accused of plagiarizing South African artist for “Spirit + Bigger” video

Queen Bey has yet to respond, but the Beyhive certainly have.

July 22, 2019

Disney’s Lion King remake reigned supreme last week, topping out the box office in addition to your Spotify playlists thanks to the soundtrack album, The Lion King: The Gift, courtesy of Beyoncé (who also lends her voice to Nala in the film). Part of the soundtrack’s buzz is due in no small part to the visually-striking double music video for “Spirit + Bigger” – but it seems that, as distinct as they are, the style in Beyoncé’s video might not entirely be her own.

The aesthetic approach for the double music video seem at first to fall in line with Beyoncé’s conception of the soundtrack as a “love letter to Africa.” Over the weekend, however, the popular diet_prada Instagram account, known for pointing out instances of cheap pop culture plagiarism, drew attention to a handful of similarities between Beyoncé’s video and the South African-based recording artist Petite Noir’s visual album La Maison Noir: The Gift and the Curse, directed by Noir’s own wife Rharha Nembard:

Petite Noir (real name Yannick Ilunga) has been releasing music under the Noir pseudonym since 2012, with La Maison Noir dropping late last year. The description for the visuals on YouTube suggests a similar love letter to Africa, detailing the album as centering around “themes of resistance, migration and women’s rights,” and being “peppered with imagery in reference to the four sections of the Congolese cosmogram (Kala, Tukula, Luvemba and Masoni), each of which serve to illustrate various aspects of life.”

The potential plagiarism wasn’t just noticed by a meme-filled instagram account, however – after being made aware of the “Spirit + Bigger” video, Gabrielle Kannemeyer, who helped develop the specific visual style for La Maison Noir by working as the shoot’s art and fashion director, took to Twitter to point out more parts of Petite Noir’s video that Beyoncé may have lifted – all of which, she clears up, was done without permission from the singer’s team:

Not only does Beyoncé stand tall as one of the most powerful figures in modern music, but also has the support from her unwavering fanbase that comes with such influence. The notorious BeyHive were quick to jump on Kannemeyer’s accusations, throwing everything from claims of lying to conspiracies theories about the art director plagiarizing from Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album Lemonade when it came to the look of Maison Noir:

Thankfully, Kannemeyer showed that she had little patience for the negative buzz coming from the Hive:

Despite the deafening denial displaying by Beyoncé stans, many more were still compelled to stand up and call the video out for its possible creative thievery:

Even with the soaring popularity of the video, Kannemeyer remains the only person involved with either project to have spoken out about the similarities, with Petite Noir, Rharha Gembard, nor Beyonce having cleared the air as to whether we’re dealing with plagiarism or just parallel thinking.

Exclusive videos, interviews, contests & more.

sign up for the a.side newsletter

sign up