In the wake of George Floyd‘s murder, media discourse has sharpened around America’s history of systematic racism and how that system continues to disadvantage and endanger Black Americans. But Pharrell and Jay-Z’s new “Entrepreneur” video clip doesn’t confine Black identity to the past, nor does it present it through a lens of trauma alone. Instead, musical titans offer a future-focused narrative that centers Black excellence and entrepreneurship.
As part of the “New American Revolution” package he curated for TIME Magazine, Williams argues that economic empowerment is key to uplifting all communities. “When you have successful beehive-type communities where you can circulate money within your community, it makes a huge difference,” he told TIME. “They keep saying the American Dream is about the house and picket fence, the wife and two kids. Come on—let’s be honest. It’s always boiled down to money and an opportunity.”
Like the broader message of Williams’ TIME issue, “Entrepreneur” makes the case that America deserves “a Black future” while foregrounding the accomplishments of Black people, like Tyler, the Creator and “Insecure’s” Issa Rae, as well as LA skate shop owners, and Princeton’s first Black valedictorian.
At a time when Black death and pain has inundated the news cycle and social media, “Entrepreneur” shows that there are many other stories that also need to be told. And though the track and video are celebrations of Black success, Williams acknowledges that that success comes at a far higher price for people of color.
“The intention for a song was all about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur in our country to begin with,” Williams explains. “Especially as someone of color, there’s a lot of systemic disadvantages and purposeful blockages. How can you get a fire started, or even the hope of an ember to start a fire when you’re starting at disadvantages with regards to health care, education, and representation?”
“Entrepreneur” debuted as part of TIME’s New American Revolution project which features conversations with Angela Davis, Tyler the Creator, Naomi Osaka, Geoffrey Canada on how a more equitable future might be achieved across policy, medicine, culture, sports, and education.
Watch the “Entrepreneur” video below.