Producer Deep Focus- Pharrell Williams

posted October 29, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Erell Williams

Pharrell Williams was born in 1973 in Virginia. Williams was always inspired by music and began producing in high school with Chad Hugo in the group, The Neptunes. It was in this group when Williams received his first big break from Teddy Riley with the song “Rump Shaker" by Wreckx-N-Effect.

Eventually, Williams and Chad Hugo began producing for big pop and rap artists such as Jay Z, Nelly and Britney Spears. Williams won his first Grammy award as a Neptune member for Justin Timberlake’s Justified album as Producer of the Year (non-classical).

Since Williams began doing solo work, he has received 38 Grammy nominations and 13 wins, two of which were Producer of the Year awards.

With his already flourishing career and high regard, Williams will certainly go down as one of the greats.

Five Essential Pharrell Williams Songs:

“Alright” - Kendrick Lamar (2015)

In this politically progressive song, Williams was a producer, a songwriter and also provided background vocals. The song was nominated for the Grammy awards from Song of the Year and Best Music Video and won Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song in 2016. The strong, heartfelt feeling of the song and lyrics came from Williams’s decision to use instruments that aren’t associated with trap music and led to a jazzier tune allowing the message of the song to be beautifully received.

"Sing” - Ed Sheeran (2014)

This track successfully pushed Sheeran towards a more R&B/pop sound partly inspired by Justin Timberlake’s music. Williams maintains Sheeran’s signature use of his guitar and puts a rough and soulful spin to it. The song debuted number one on the Billboard 100 and went 4x platinum.

"Blurred Lines” - Robin Thicke (2013)

While this song was controversial, it is still one of Pharrell Williams’s greatest produced hits. The song is presented as a funky pop song and contains upbeat and groovy instrumentals using a cowbell, drums and a piano throughout the song. “Blurred Lines” was nominated for both Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the Grammys in 2014.

"Happy” - Pharrell Williams (2013)

Williams was the songwriter and producer of this international hit song. “Happy” was a part of the Despicable Me 2 Soundtrack, and it won the Grammy award for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video in 2014 and reached the top of the charts in several countries. This infectiously upbeat song could be heard throughout the year 2014 and is more than deserving of its accolades.

“Stir Fry” – The Migos (2017)

Williams takes a fresh approach to trap when working with Migos in the song “Stir Fry.” He uses whistles and “clicking trap hi-hats” to produce an addicting chirpy beat and samples from “The Champ” by the Mohawks. The song went double platinum and peaked at number eight on the Billboard 100.

Essential Pharrell Williams Album:

"Sweetener” - Ariana Grande (2018)

This album contains some of Pharrell’s more eccentric songs. “Sweetener,” like most of Ariana’s releases, is extremely experimental with the beats and provides a unique listening experience.

In the songs that Williams produced, he played with funk, trap, neo-soul, and gospel which contained a range of tempos and unusual beats. It occasionally strays from what listeners are expecting from the music, and can be enjoyable to jam to.

“The light is coming” featuring Nicki Minaj was a debatably fun piece on the album. It plays with a retro-trap mix and uses innovative pauses and high-pitched additions to play on a dreamlike and futuristic sound.

Even with the periodic diss towards the uniqueness of the album, it still debuted at number one on the Billboard 100 and won the Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2019.

Erell Williams is a first-year majoring in broadcasting journalism. To contact her email exw5303@psu.edu.