The Pharrell You Thought You Knew

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When the animated film Despicable Me returned for a sequel, Universal Pictures called on Pharrell to provide the score. This would be the mega producer’s second time composing music for the movie. The feel good single “Happy” has everyone smiling including Steve Carrell and the minions. At 40, the Virginia native certainly has a lot to be happy for. After over two decades in music the businessman has yet to miss a beat.

2013 was indeed all about Pharrell. The attention started after he appeared in the long awaited Daft Punk single “Get Lucky”. Then he made the world dizzy with Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. On albums his multi-faceted production style can be heard behind everyone from Jay-Z to Miley Cyrus.

The world can’t get enough of the beat maker from Neptune. It has been that way since the 90s. In honor of his contribution to music let’s take a look back on a few Pharrell collaborations you may have missed over the years.

Pharrell got his start co-writing music with Teddy Riley before striking it big as part of the production duo The Neptunes with Chad Hugo. Some of his earliest credits were as a co-writer in “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect and as a co-producer in “Right Here” by r&b group SWV.

After achieving pop success with artists like Backstreet Boys, Busta Rhymes, Usher, and No Doubt, The Neptunes remixed “Don’t Be Light” by French electronic act Air.

Pharrell’s blend of R&B, pop, and hip-hop led him to Justin Timberlake in 2002. Previously the dynamic duo hit it big with the Nsync hit, “Girlfriend”. The two collaborated on JT’s first solo project, “Justified” that included the radio friendly hits, “Like I Love You” and “Rock Your Body.” He could have easily signed Justin to his Star Trek label but instead went for Robin Thicke a few years later.

In 2003 Pharrell appeared in “Come Close (Remix) (Closer)” alongside Common, Erykah Badu and Q-Tip. The melodic rap track was produced by the late J. Dilla.

Pharrell hit legendary status after teaming up with royalty acts like Beyonce, Madonna, Bono, Gloria Estefan and The Rolling Stones.

He can even be heard on collaborations with less mainstream acts like Scissor Sisters, MIKA, Solange, and Santigold.

Recently, Pharrell collaborated with singer Mayer Hawthorne for his “Where Does This Door Go” album. The track, “Wine Glass Woman” brings us back to his signature style resembling Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful.”

So what is it about Pharell that we love so much? Beneath the catchy choruses and recognizable tone is a man who understands the art of music and collaborating. Whether he is working with Faith Evans or Kylie Minogue, he always captures the best of the artist he is working with.

I think it is safe to say he reinvented Justin Timberlake and was certainly the better production half of Madonna’s “Hard Candy” album. He got everyone curious about Courvoisier and in 2002 made everyone say hot in hurrr. All emerging producers cite Pharrell as an inspiration. I’m personally drawn to his experimentation with sounds, incredible layering style, and he is a producer not confined by a beat machine. He proves that he is influenced by many genres which is the secret to being a great musician. An instrumental by Pharrell is perfect for a night out or performed skillfully by a live band.

In 2014 we will hear collaborations with Mac Miller and Azealia Banks. Take a look at his latest music video for, “Happy”. You can’t do anything else but smile and dance along. Keep it coming Pharrell!