Pharrell Williams curates Time magazine edition about America’s ‘black future’

Pharrell Williams performs live on day 3 of the Isle of Wight Festival 2015, Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
Pharrell Williams performs live on day 3 of the Isle of Wight Festival 2015, Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight

Pharrell Williams has curated a special edition of Time magazine and announced a new song with Jay-Z.

The producer, 47, has brought together a series of essays and conversations between black figures for the project, titled The New American Revolution.

Rapper 21 Savage, Black Lives Matter activist Janaya Future Khan and journalist Imara Jones have contributed.

Tyler, The Creator and writer and director Kenya Barris also feature with an “in conversation” piece titled Why Can’t We Tell Our Stories?

Writing in Time, Williams said: “So, 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 fulfil the promise of this country’s principles.”

Time’s international art director Victor Williams invited Nneka Jones, a 23-year-old artist who posted a photo-realistic painting of George Floyd on Instagram, to create the cover.

The image, an embroidered red and black US flag, speaks to “the marching, the protests, the push to form a more perfect union,” according to the magazine’s art director.

Jay-Z and wife Beyonce
Jay-Z and wife Beyonce (Ian West/PA)

Williams will also release a song with Jay-Z, titled Entrepreneur, on Friday, celebrating black ambition and touching on themes including systematic inequality.

Speaking about the song, he said: “The intention for a song was all about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur in our country to begin with.

“Especially as someone of colour, 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?”

In his verse, Jay-Z, raps about the importance of supporting black-owned businesses.

He says: “Black Twitter, what’s that? When Jack gets paid, do you?,” referencing Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey.

In an essay titled “America’s Past and Present Are Racist. We Deserve a Black Future” Williams addresses his upbringing in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the area’s association with slavery.

“The rugged spot jutting out from America’s mainland that birthed this nation has since been named Virginia Beach,” he writes.

“It birthed me too. Being raised in the literal womb of America and the origin of this country’s oppression left an indelible impression on me.


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