Great Music Producers: Pharrell Williams

In 2013, artist Pharrell Williams flooded the planet with happiness with his song Happy. But his career had started twenty years earlier thanks to another production giant: Teddy Riley. Back on an extraordinary journey.

Teddy Riley’s foal

Teddy Riley had revolutionized urban black music in 1987 with the singer Keith Sweatshirt. His style will be called “New-Jack Swing” and it will lead to modern R&B. Riley dominates the period 1987-1996. After a few years spent in New York, his hometown, he set up his studios in Virginia. During a show of which he is the initiator and the godfather, he is very impressed by the Neptunes. He offers the duo composed of Chad Hugo and Pharrell an artist development contract. He is in full design of the album of the group Wrecks N Effect in which is his brother Markell. He offers Pharrell to write songs. The latter co-wrote the song Rump Shaker which will be the biggest success of the album. Subsequently, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo will work with SWV, Blackstreet and Total thanks to Teddy Riley. In 1996, they signed their work for the first time under the name Neptunes.

A prolific producer

From 1998, the “Neptunes” style gradually took hold. Their Lookin’ At Me for the rapper Mase enters the top 10 singles sales in the USA. The same goes for the Superthug by rapper Noreaga. Very quickly the Williams-Hugo duo is requested by the whole R&B / Rap planet. Ol Dirty Bastardssinger Kelis, Jay-Z, Britney Spears (yes! yes!), Nelly, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris all benefited from their talent between 1999 and 2006. At the same time, Pharrell Williams and his friends Chad Hugo and Shay Haley set up the concept NERD A project more rock than their work for others, without an identifiable format. A UFO ! Thus opens the 21st century for Pharrell Williams.

The king of the 2010s

Kendrick Lamar - 1The artist has already left his mark on the R&B/Rap world. He is one of the most prolific in history and has a Grammy for “best producer of the year 2004”. It was nothing. Singer, composer, producer and rapper, Williams is stepping up the pressure on this decade. Robin Thicke (Blurred Lines2013), Kendrick Lamar (OK2015) and of course daft-punk (Random Access Memory2013) of which no one has forgotten the Get Lucky nor the stage performance during the 2013 Grammy Awards evening. And one more “Grammy” for “best producer of the year”! He finds time for the recording of his second solo album (girl2014) on which is the planetary hit Happy. The album goes directly to No. 2 in sales in the United States. We will find it on the soundtrack of the film Despicable Me 2. Alicia Keys and Ed Sheeran work with him.

Music and Cinema

Hidden Figures DVD - 1In 2014, his name is on the soundtrack of Amazing Spiderman 2 alongside a giant of composition: Hans Zimmer.

In 2016, he contributed to the music of the film Shadow Figures. Indeed, he co-signs the 17 themes with Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer. He is also a co-producer of the film. Just that ! A year later, return of NERD. with the song lemon (recorded with Rihanna) and collaborations with Migos, Camila Cabello, the Carters, Tyler The Creator…In 2019, he composed for a documentary dedicated to Clarence Avant, legend of 20th century music (Black GodfatherNetflix).

2022, 30 years of career and still this eternal adolescent face. Certainly surreal, almost supernatural!

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Great Music Producers: Pharrell Williams