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‘Entrepreneur’-Inspired Music Video Highlights Black Business Owners In St. Louis

David Kirkman's "Entrepreneur - St. Louis Edition" features nine Black-owned businesses in St. Louis.
David Kirkman
David Kirkman's "Entrepreneur - St. Louis Edition" features nine Black-owned businesses in St. Louis.

Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z released their new song “Entrepreneur” in August. The track celebrates the ambition of Black business owners while addressing the systemic inequalities they face on the road to economic success.

The lyrics are frank about some of the challenges. Pharrell says, “The system imprison young black boys/Distract with white noise.” And Jay-Z references the lack of representation in the media: “Lies told to you through YouTubes and Hulus/Shows with no hues that look like you do.”

The song’s music video debuted shortly after, and it features Black entrepreneurs from across the country. The video inspired St. Louis’ Jason Wilson, owner and CEO of Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., who collaborated with local director David Kirkman to create an edition of “Entrepreneur” that highlights Black-owned businesses in St. Louis.

As a Black business owner himself, Wilson is familiar with the themes detailed in the song.

“There’s a gray area, and you have to learn to deal with that gray area as a Black entrepreneur, and get through that gray area because there will be some type of light on the other side that provides some definitive direction and change and success,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot at stake, there’s a lot to risk, and it’s a complicated process. … We’re just trying to make sure that we put people in positions so they won’t have such a hard time as described in this song.”

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Kirkman and Wilson talked about the nine local businesses they feature in “Entrepreneur — St. Louis Edition,” as well as their work creating another local version of the video featuring entrepreneurs in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“The incredible thing that we see, that is very much happening, is that there are connections being made — a lot of networking opportunities between some in Tulsa and St. Louis,” Kirkman said.

He said they are planning to create more of these videos in the future. They are headed to Nashville next.

“I think the same thing is really going to happen in Nashville — connections that we simply didn’t have before,” Kirkman said. “You know, going from city to city and really learning about the culture of the city, learning about the different dynamics and learning about the positivity that the Black entrepreneurs are bringing to their cities — by employing people and by doing great things in their own communities.”

Entrepreneur - St. Louis Edition - By David Kirkman | Inspired By Pharrell Williams (Ft. JAY-Z)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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