Pharrell and Mimi Valdés will co-produce the musical under I Am Other and Barris will produce via his Khalabo Ink Society operation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While not much is known about its storyline, insiders say that the musical production would be independent from the pair’s Juneteenth-inspired stage musical, which is also imminent. The idea behind stage production derives from the Season 4 opener of Black-ish, “Juneteenth: The Musical,” which aired in 2014. Barris’ latest series #blackAF, also on Netflix, featured a Juneteenth episode as well.
For the stage musical, Barris will write alongside Black-ish writer Peter Saji, while Pharrell and Valdés will write and compose the music.
“The acknowledgment and celebration of Juneteenth as an American and possibly international holiday is something that I would put in the life goals column for me,” Barris said in a statement, per Deadline. “For us, this project isn’t about numbers; it’s about humanity,” Barris continued. “Slavery is America’s recessive gene and it’s time we all dealt with it and what better way to have an audience swallow this dose of medicine than with amazing music and raw, honest, jaw-dropping comedy?”
Barris also discussed how he developed the idea for the stage production during an episode of Complex’s Watch Less podcast in November. After he worked on the Black-ish Juneteenth episode, he believed that “there’s a bigger story to talk about. Actually now [Juneteenth] is really important because there’s a huge thing sort of brewing… [with] the reparations conversation.” He added that he thinks it’s going to be “one of the bigger conversations,” on par with “border control or same-sex marriage.”
During the same episode of Watch Less, Barris also discussed his work as an executive producer for Kid Cudi’s Entergalactic series, which is set to release this year as part of a two-fold, series/album joint release. “It's the craziest thing in terms of TV. It's the most ambitious thing. It also shows who he is as an artist,” Barris said.