The Song that Changed Life for Alfred Duncan
The chorus came to Alfred Duncan first.
A Grammy-nominated musician-slash-serial entrepreneur, Duncan had long since abandoned the traditional method of songwriting. Pen and paper were no longer necessary for the Black Men Ventures founding member and CEO. All he needed in the creative process was an instrumental track and a long enough car commute to fully embrace the creative process.
“I didn’t write the lyrics,” Duncan said. “I created them in my head. I created the hook first. That’s the part of I was feeling the most. I would just ride around listening to the beat. I would go to different places. I was just come up with words.”
Those words he came up with ended up being the lyrics to a song called BLM Plaza.
Duncan didn’t know it at the time, but the song he created would forever change the trajectory of his own life.
“I thought it would have an impact musically,” Duncan said. “I didn’t imagine it would be a gateway for what I was about to do. I had no idea of that. No idea.”
“I DON’T WANT NO SMOKE!”
With the uplifting, melodic Beatstars track in his ears and the George Floyd situation fresh on his mind, Duncan set out to create.
“I was in anger mode while listening, but the beat put me in more of an uplifting spirit,” Duncan said. “I saw on the news and social media everybody was so upset, and going out and protesting. And for good reason. I think that those things deserved to happen. It was beautiful to watch, but I think of an obstacle we need to overcome as a people is we need to put that same energy into action as it relates to equity, as it relates to building communities, and as it relates to supporting each other.”
As Duncan pondered those thoughts, the chorus began to formulate in his mind.
“We ain’t beefin’. I don’t want no smoke
It ain’t no secret
They know all of us are dope
And our people need us
We can’t let them fight this battle alone
We done lost some folks and can’t lose no more …”
On June 19 th , 2020, BLM Plaza became available on digital platforms everywhere. The song is four minutes and 10 seconds of Duncan using his artistic creativity to encourage his community on a better path forward.
“I just thought it would be really powerful if I could so something to bring them together and let them know, ‘Look, we’re not each other’s enemies!’” Duncan said. “We are supposed to help each other. We are supposed to build each other up. It’s all about community. That in my mind is where it came from. If we realize that, there’s no way they can limit us.”
“BREAKING BREAD, MAKING PLANS, BUILDING WITH MY BROTHERS”
It was while listening to his own song that Duncan made the phone call that would change his life.
That call was to his friend Shelly Bell.
A supremely gifted public speaker, entrepreneur and ecosystem builder, Bell is the CEO and founder of Black Girl Ventures. Under Bell’s leadership, Black Girls Ventures has reached incredible heights, including a partnership with Nike and features in Forbes and Essence.
Through conversations, Bell blessed Duncan’s vision to start Black Men Ventures as a partnership agency. Black Men Ventures exists to help black men founders have equitable access to professional and financial capital to meet business milestones leading to sustainable economic advancement, narrowing the wealth gap through entrepreneurship.
As for the song, BLM Plaza hasn’t reached the same commercial success as some of Duncan’s other songs.
But it’s had quite the impact on himself.
“It inspired me to reach out to Shelly,” Duncan said. “I had no idea it would drive me to Shelly or BMV (Black Men Ventures). I had no idea at all.”
NOTE: The flagship program for Black Men Ventures is the Black Founders Pitch Program. The next one is scheduled for July 30th, and you can register to watch here. If you’d like to support Black Men Ventures financially, click here.