Pharrell has teamed up with Spotify for volume two of their Black History Is Happening Now campaign, which was created along with the creative collective Saturday Morning, to amplify the voices of Black musicians, creators and organization. The Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and producer served as the curator of the campaign and talked about the contribution of the African diaspora to American pop culture including slavery, which he says was “far from a choice.”
“The one thing you cannot deny is that this country was built by the hands of many different cultures but mainly the African Americans,” Pharrell states at the opening of the commercial. “They were the ones that were put to task to go out and actually do the work. And all the while having to endure the pillaging of where they were from, identities taken from, and forced to do things that they didn’t want to do, far from a choice.”
The use of the word “choice” can be seen as a response to Kanye West’s controversial comments on TMZ Live in April, in which the Chicagoan said the hundreds of years of slavery in America “sounds like a choice.”
Pharrell explains in A Very Serious Force, “I think that what’s going to save not only this country but save the world are the Gen Z’ers, the Millennials and the women.” He then speaks on the impact Black women have on the existence of the Black community. “All of those slaves the came through the conduit of an African-American or African diaspora, through the conduit of their body. They had to watch those souls that were connected to those bodies had to endure. That’s one of the many notions that make Black women important.”
In the Something Awakening video, Pharrell speaks on whether Black history is being made in the current political climate. He said it’s happening whether “we’re killing it on stage or being killed in the streets.” The N*E*R*D frontman continued, “The easiest way to get something done and get people to pay attention is hate. Love never gets the attention that hate does. You have an administration that has decided that is the easiest way to get things done and to take over.”
In a press release obtained by EBONY, Spotify says they were inspired by Pharrell’s words and other programs to introduce a “new initiative to support up-and-coming black female creators. Together with the women of BLK@Spotify, Spotify will be seeking out three black female creatives across film, literature, and visual arts who are breaking new ground. These three women will receive funding to collaborate in creating original content to uplift the message that “black women are a very serious force.”
The content will be launched early this fall.
Black History Is Now hub can be visited on the hub here via Spotify.com.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.