Hall of Fame 002: Pharrell Williams
I'm not a person that gets starstruck. I've always recognized celebrities as just people. They're people that you can look up to in terms of the work they've done or their accomplishments but at the end of the day, they're just people with gifts like everyone else. They just found a way to make it their special livelihood. With that being said, Pharrell is an omission to all of that statement for me. There's a list of people that I looked up to as a kid that I know I would be speechless if I met them today. Jay (check Hall of Fame - 001), Cam'Ron, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Lupe Fiasco etc... Pharrell was always at that top of that list and still is for me as an adult.
There are people you watch as a kid because of how cool they look or how good their music sounds but in most cases, we don't realize the magnitude of what they're doing until we get older. That was the case for me and how I looked at Pharrell. Growing up, all I heard was him and Chad dominate the radio whether it was a song from Kelis, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears, Snoop or Clipse. The first legit video crush I had was Lanisha Cole, who was in the Frontin and Maybe video. I shovelled multiple driveways every winter to get my hands on clothes that Pharrell either made or was closely affiliated with. That's music, lifestyle and clothing over 10 to 15 years. Those feel like very minute things when you're exposed to them at first but as an adult, I can look back and realize that Pharrell was creating a whole universe that's peaked my interested for the majority of my life.
At the time that I started obsessing over The Neptunes and Star Trak, I started to recognize a shift. It seemed like in rap or music in general, there were only one or two ways black men could be. You were either going to be like 50 and Cam'Ron or Urkle. It's funny to think about but that's what it felt like. I loved Rocafella & Dipset and G-Unit was a big era but I started to take interest in N.E.R.D... Pharrell was that first-person for me in media that let me know it was cool to be left of center. The older I got, the more I realized I was way more interested in clothes and music than I was with the lifestyle Dipset was portraying, but I loved it all. The balance in things and people I thought were cool started to shift. I watched Rap City and 106 & Park every day after school, but I got on youtube and watched Nigoldeneye clips from MTV Japan too. I was listening to Young Dro and Lupe on the same bus ride to school. I started seeing that the people who were able to embrace both sides of the culture were the ones that won and that helped me find my cool around the same time.
All I've ever wanted to do was take ideas from my head and make them a reality. Seeing what Pharrell's been able to do in his career has been a blueprint for me. I used to think being great at multiple things at once was detrimental. You can only juggle multiple objects at once before you drop one of them, but looking at the trajectory of BBC and his production let me know that's not the case. Caring about the product you present to the world is what matters the most. I can tell Pharrell and his partners cared a lot about what they were presenting to everyone. Producing on important albums like "Hell Hath No Fury" and "Food & Liquor" while connecting with Nigo to create some of the best clothing at the height streetwear is a tough thing to do. Especially consistently at a high level. I knew I wanted to be able to do that. I want to be able to A&R someone's album and draw sketches for clothing/sneakers at the same time. It's tough but it's possible and you'll reap the benefits of seeing who comes after you once you kick that door down. Without Pharrell, there's no Tyler The Creator, A$AP Rocky, Cool Kids, Wale or Kid Cudi. Those are all rappers that have the creative vision to do more things outside of music. Pharrell was one of the first to be elite at both of those creative mediums. You'll never really be able to know if you can work on movie scores and rap on songs with Future until you see someone do it. So if there's anything that I've gained the most from looking at Pharrell's career, it's track 5 on "In My Mind", 'You Can Do It Too'.
"Don't wait for the stars to align, reach up and rearrange them the way you want... create your own constellation" - Pharrell Williams