By: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
It was inevitable that the sci-fi loving jazz nerd from Virginia Beach would propel hip-hop into a gravity-free zone. With Timbaland having led the sound of production into the future, The Neptunes took it to space, with Pharrell beaming in refined synth melodies that launched the careers of The Clipse and Kelis. But Pha-Real’s the whole package—his songwriting and masterminding is a product of his school-band past. His indelible falsetto melodies could seduce a nun into a series of bad habits, his rock-band acumen imbued funkiness into Fred Durst-inspired projects, his Don-Draper-aloof raps even made Snoop sound enthused. And he's kept his cool the entire time. Always on the edge between uptown and downtown, Skateboard P bridges genres as effortlessly as his fashion style combines high art and street smarts. No wonder Jay-Z has called no other “genius” more than he has this N.E.R.D.
Miguel, singer, songwriter, collaborator says:
“What’s crazy about Pharrell is his ability to take what he loves—jazz music—and incorporate it. “Grindin” is his only beat that didn’t have some remnants of jazz progres- sion or chord structure, but still, he has the ability to really assimilate a lot of diligence on his programming. He’s one of those artists that always walked the line of commercial relatability without compromising artistic integrity. He’ll give you substance but make it palatable and desirable. That’s a shoe mark of genius: the ability to put a steak inside of a Happy Meal box. I love his shit.”