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Pharrell Through the Years

Allie Tollaksen | Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pharrell Williams has been everywhere in 2013. Between “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines,” it seems like you just can’t escape his catchy, high-pitched vocals on the radio. Then again, Pharrell Williams has “been everywhere” many times before. (Remember seeing him in the “Hollaback Girl” or “Drop It Like It’s Hot” music videos way back in 2005?) Of course, we know Pharrell is by no means a newcomer; we’ve all heard him before collaborating with everyone from top-40 superstars like Britney Spears to up-and-coming artists and indie groups alike. Then there’s his own group, N.E.R.D., which released albums from 2001 to 2010.

But if this is all you know about Pharrell, you’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the man has had a hand in producing some pretty amazing songs spanning the last 20 years. You may wonder how it’s possible that a young guy like Pharrell has been in the music industry for so long, but to clarify, the man is actually 40 years old and clearly knows some anti-aging secret the rest of us are still trying to figure out.

Not only has Pharrell been making music way longer than most of us realized, but he also has been responsible for writing, producing and making beats for more tracks than most of us recognize. Since 1992, he and fellow writer and producer Chad Hugo have been creating hits under the name The Neptunes. They’ve been the men behind the curtain, helping artists, such as Robin Thicke and Kelis, gain worldwide notoriety.

Let’s not forget that, along with The Neptunes’ work, Pharrell has also spent the last 20 years singing, releasing solo tracks, writing movie scores, performing with Hugo in N.E.R.D. and launching his own fashion line. It’s no wonder that Tyler, the Creator calls him his idol. I can’t even begin to list all the tracks and albums Pharrell has been involved in, but I encourage you look him up yourself. In the meantime, here’s a list of a few songs for which we have Pharrell to thank.


1.)  “Got Your Money” – Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1999) Probably my favorite ODB song, this track was produced by The Neptunes and features an up-and-coming Kelis at the time on the hook.

2.)  “Chasin’ Papers” – Curren$y ft. Pharrell (2012) From Curren$y’s excellent album, “The Stoned Immaculate,” Pharrell wrote, produced and sang the hook for this track, and it features one of my favorite samples on the album: Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child.”

3.)   “Hollaback Girl” – Gwen Stefani (2004) Turns out, Pharrell was in the music video for a reason. He wrote and produced the track with Stefani and Hugo. So yes, he is partially responsible for all of us constantly spelling out the word “bananas” in the mid-2000s.

4.)  “Milkshake” – Kelis (2003) The Neptunes and Kelis worked together for years, but of course the track we all remember is “Milkshake.” The Neptunes wrote and produced the track with Kelis, helping make her a household name.  

5.)  “Money Maker” – Ludacris (2006) Written and performed by Ludacris and Pharrell and produced by The Neptunes, this song has Pharrell written all over it. Maybe that’s why it went platinum.

6.)  “I’m a Slave 4 U” – Britney Spears (2001) Though it may not be Britney’s best song (sorry, but “Toxic” will win every time), this single was a huge hit and gave us all our first look at the new, super-scandalous Britney Spears. The Neptunes strike again.

7.)  “Grindin'” – Clipse (2002) If you’re a fan of Pusha T’s new album “My Name Is My Name” (and you should be because it’s great), then you have Pharrell and Hugo to thank in part. In case you didn’t know, King Push himself the other half of rap duo Clipse, which made it big with the help of some excellent production by The Neptunes.

8.)   Everyone Nose (Remix)” – N.E.R.D. ft. Kanye West, Common, Pusha T and Pharrell (2008) I’m pretty sure the title and artists say enough, but I will say that the elaborate beat paired with some seriously talented rappers and impressive wordplay made this song memorable in the best way.