It seemed like a million years ago when Pharrell worked with N.E.R.D. and Star Trak Entertainment. In 2010, he released an album with the Neptunes sealing his notoriety as a producer. Not that he wasn’t a good entertainer, but some of the hip-hop beats he is responsible for crafting are all-time bangers. He has worked with everyone from Teddy Riley, to Timbaland, Busta Rhymes, Justin Timberlake, Jay Z and Robin Thicke. He's responsible for Nelly's "Hot in Herre" (2002), Jay Z's "Frontin'" (2004) and Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" (2004).
Billboard magazine would agree with the heat assessment. In 2009, the magazine named the Neptunes, comprised of Pharrell and Chad Hugo, the Producers of the Decade.
But Pharrell hasn’t been rocking with his homeboy the past couple years. The Nothing CD released in 2010 on Interscope was their last album together. Since then, Pharrell alone has emerged as not only one of the most highly sought after musical minds in the business today, but one of America’s most celebrated entertainers as well.
The film industry became aware of Pharrell’s genius as he penned two original songs ("Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Despicable Me") for the first Despicable Me (2010) animated film. The soundtrack was nominated for an Annie Award with the International Animated Film Association in 2011. His songs have appeared in movies like Fast & Furious, The Brave One, Knocked Up and Mean Girls. In 2012, he supervised and consulted on music for the 84th Annual Academy Award broadcast. With a 2013 IMDB credit showing that he played the drums in the orchestra for the Man of Steel score, lightning struck with Despicable Me 2 (2013). Pharrell penned three original songs ("Happy", "Just a Cloud Away", and "Scream") for the sequel soundtrack that spawned this year’s Academy Award nomination for best music in a feature production. His hit single "Happy," currently number one on the Billboard charts, is nominated for best song.
But nominations and awards are nothing new for Skateboard P. At 40, he’s won Grammy’s and Billboard awards over the years, ever since the Virginian began producing music back in 1992 as a teenager, when he laid down tracks for Wreckx-N-Effect’s summertime hit “Rump Shaker.”
This year, Pharrell was nominated for seven Grammy Awards and he won four, including producer of the year, album of the year (featured with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories), and best pop duo/group performance with Daft Punk.
Last week, building off the momentum, Pharrell announced he’d be releasing a long awaited solo album called GIRL on March 3. The album will include appearances from such guests as Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake. Recently, Pharrell had to fend off a psuedo-controversy that arose from the cover art to the new album. The ever overreactive and sometimes myopic social media zombies jumped down his throat because they thought none of the three women on the cover were of African descent. Recently, Pharrell took to the radio airwaves on the syndicated “Breakfast Club” morning show and set the record straight. The woman standing nearest to him is African American.
"What really disappointed me is that, man, they jumped the gun," he said in the interview. "She's a black girl from Wisconsin I used to date over 10 years ago, maybe 12 years ago."
That drama was just a minor hiccup down the pipeline and not nearly enough to derail his train of success. Since performing at the Grammys, killing the stage at last month’s NBA All-Star game, and performed at the Oscars, not only are Pharrrell’s frequent flier miles incalculable, but his popularity rate is through the stratosphere. As an urban and pop music composer without peer, the domino effect of accolades and high profile appearances have made him an A-list, world class performer, seemingly out the blue. And whether he won an Oscar to go along with those seven Grammys he has accumulated up to this point or not, Pharrell Williams has succeeded in creating the sound of the future today.