The highly-anticipated Netflix documentary The Black Godfather released to the streaming service today, along with a bonus goodie in the form of a new song from Pharrell Williams on the film’s soundtrack, “Letter To My Godfather.” Both the documentary and the song are tributes to Clarence Avant, the music executive whose work had a massive behind-the-scenes impact on the music industry, especially in the area of traditionally Black genres at a time “race records” were considered a financial risk and not the backbone of American pop culture.
The song features production from Pharrell’s partner in The Neptunes, Chad Hugo, and finds the Virginian crooner reflecting on Avant’s legacy and his negotiations on behalf of Black artists during that dark period of American history. “He would say, ‘Protect him, at all cost,'” he sings. “They would hang up the calls.”
That line illustrates Avant’s importance, as the fixer would receive harsh treatment from other music businessmen due to his race and his focus on protecting the rights of Black artists. The Netflix documentary, which is produced by Avant’s daughter Nicole and directed by Reginald Hudlin, features interviews with Clive Davis, Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, and even former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, spotlighting Avant’s legacy.
The Black Godfather is out now on Netflix.