I’m known as “the King.” Although it’s disputed by some, concurred by most, there ain’t no disputing that lion—that is what it is. So I went and told them, “Get me as close as you can to a lion.” He had a trainer holding him on a chain. They took the chain out [in post-work]. It really went down. I wanted to pet him. I said, “Let me get hands on.” They were like, “No. We could only let you do but so much.” So I did as much as they would allow me to do.
I figured we had to do some kind of slick and meaningful imagery to say the obvious without doing the obvious. I tried to flip it as much as I could. I wanted it to be a a busy city street. My original idea was to lock down Times Square and let me and the lion do the same thing right there, but we couldn’t quite pull that off; they said it had to be in controlled environment. They tried to a artsy kind of drawing. It looked good, but it didn’t serve my purpose—it was just a painting. I figured, if it got to be a controlled environment, we may as well just keep it all the way simple make it black and white, white background, me, him, cool chair.
It says itself; it’s self-explanatory. I don’t have to write “King;” I don’t have to write “Uncaged.” Everything is right there. It’s said. [My record label, Atlantic] knows by now to rock with me. We done did this enough times before. On the King album when I didn’t really want to show my face, that wasn’t really looked at as the ideal move to make, but I feel like iconic imagery speaks for itself. You ain’t got to beat people in the head with what you’re trying to say. Everything understood don’t need to be explained.