Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams drop empowering 'Entrepreneur' track tackling issues faced by Black business owners
'The intention for a song was all about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur in our country to begin with,' Williams revealed
Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams have just dropped a new empowering and racially-charged track called 'Entrepreneur', which tackles the social and economic imbalances in modern America today, especially as faced by people of color. The hip-hop stars need no introduction, considering they've won a combined 35 Grammy awards between them and keep churning out chart-toppers with frequent regularity. Besides being bonafide musical legends in the American recording industry, they are also regarded as forward-thinking African-American icons in contemporary popular culture.
Jay-Z is one of New York's finest rappers, the head honcho of Roc-A-Fella Records and also owns the media streaming service Tidal. Meanwhile, Pharrell Williams has been responsible for some of the biggest hip-hop, R&B, and soul hits of the past two decades, both in his solo music career and as a hit producer with The Neptunes, a successful partnership with fellow NERD bandmate Chad Hugo. As powerful self-made entrepreneurs themselves, it makes sense that Jay-Z and Pharell would team up for this collaborative single 'Entrepreneur', which was also produced by The Neptunes. You can check out the music video here.
The new song, which dropped at midnight ET on Friday, August 21, is accompanied by Friday's issue of Time magazine, a special edition that Pharrell helped curate. The cover story is titled “The New American Revolution: Visions of a Black Future that Fulfills a Nation’s Promise,” and Williams has helped assembled interviews with a number of big names, including the activists and educators Angela Davis and Geoffrey Canada, hip-hop star Tyler, the Creator, 'Black-ish' actress Yara Shahidi, and tennis star Naomi Osaka. In this issue, they all talk about their personal experiences with racial inequality in America and look for a positive outcome when it comes to policy, medicine, culture, sports, and education.
Williams revealed, "In assembling this project, I asked some of the most qualified people I know in every field, from Angela Davis to Tyler, the Creator, to Representative Barbara Lee, to talk with us, and with one another, about the way forward. I wanted to convey a vision of a future filled with the artists, creators, and entrepreneurs who can fulfill the promise of this country’s principles.”
As for the track 'Entrepreneur' itself, Williams revealed “The intention for a song was all about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur in our country to begin with.” He continued, “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?” The way forward is economic empowerment, according to Williams, because when local communities thrive together, it has a ripple effect across the nation. “When you have successful beehive-type communities where you can circulate money within your community, it makes a huge difference,” he revealed. “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.”
At one point in the song, Pharrell candidly sings, "In this position with no choice / A system imprison young Black boys / Distract with white noise.” Meanwhile, Jay-Z also points to the merits of starting your own business ventures instead of helping someone else get rich, and emphasized the importance of supporting Black businesses. "Black Twitter, what’s that? When Jack gets paid, do you? For every one Gucci, support two FUBU’s," he raps, referencing Twitter's Jack Dorsey and FUBU, which was founded by Daymond John.
You can check out the full lyrics here and the sheet music for the song on Pharrell's site here. Ultimately, in spite of the song's scathing social commentary, it is ultimately positive and encouraging in nature. “The song is trying to communicate that when we stick together, treat each other better and welcome each other, there’s more money and more opportunity for everyone,” Pharell stated.