Pharrell Williams is a full-blown superstar. But before “Happy,” and The Voice and Despicable Me and his work with Daft Punk, Pharrell was (and still is) known as one music’s greatest producers. And although he still doesn’t look like it, he turns 44 today (April 5).
Even at his most hip-hop, Pharrell is still something an oddity. Sometimes funky, sometimes percussive, his production always maintains some idiosyncratic quality that sounds definitively him. Part his magic is how he’s able to make a variety artists bend toward his weirdness. The result: hits on hits as one half the Neptunes.
His slimy riff for “Superthug” still inspires an immediate bodily reaction, and being a middle schooler in the mid-2000s was worth it just to perform the “Grindin‘” beat on school lunch tables. In between producing hits for the likes Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg and plenty others, he also fronts the rock band N*E*R*D, which is noteworthy in how it gave a generation African-American skateboarders and backpackers an act to directly relate to.
Pharrell proved his longevity in recent years, too. After a dry streak, Pharrell rose again in partial thanks to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” in 2012. He also landed production credits on Kendrick Lamar’s good kidd, m.A.A.d city and Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE, two the most acclaimed productions that year. “Happy” came the next year, and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” though they were found guilty copyright infringement Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”
But the highs clearly outrank the lows. Plus–Pharrell is a creative genius, he landed just fine.
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