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Spotify Enlists Pharrell to Remind Users That Slavery Was “Far From a Choice” in Black History Campaign

pharrell calls slavery far from a choice in spotify ad
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 14: Pharrell Williams performs onstage during the 7th Biennial UNICEF Ball on April 14, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for UNICEF USA)

Pharrell Williams has partnered with Spotify for their new “Black History Is Happening Now” campaign, which sees the streaming service promoting playlists highlighting notable music from African-American artists. Pharrell, who has produced music for a variety of artists including Justin Timberlake, Lil Uzi Vert, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé & Jay-Z, is both sponsor and curator for the campaign and appears in a new ad talking about the contributions of black people to American society and culture.

“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 to open 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 last bit could be interpreted as a response to Kanye West’s comments on TMZ Live a few months back, in which Kanye said that 500 years of enslavement “sounds like a choice.” He has since tried to clarify (sort of) this statement in an interview with the New York Times.

Pharrell continues on in the ad, speaking on the contributions of black people to culture at large and music in particular. “There would be no rock n’ roll without us,” Pharrell notes. Watch the full video for the campaign below.