Exclusive Interview: Pharrell Williams Talks Daft Punk, Says EDM Became Too Corporate

As the reviews for Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (out on Columbia Records, May 21) start pouring out web-wide like bees from a busted hive, VIBE ‘got lucky’ with Pharrell Williams. The singer-rapper is a key cohort alongside The Robots in their forthcoming magnum opus, who poignantly discusses the meaning of Daft Punk’s music in the roll-out series, The Collaborators. “It represents freedom for all people,” said Williams. But does “it” include today’s American umbrella genre, 'EDM'?

“There’s definitely some good EDM DJs and producers out there, but its just one night,” Williams tells VIBE, referring to the hyperactive pace of new EDM wannabes and fakes. “I think for them [Daft Punk] and for me it just became too corporate. When the corporations get involved, they tend to have you go so commercial that you sort of lost what got you there in the first place.”

The Daft Punk/Pharrell alliance first saw life when they, along with Lenny Kravitz and D’Angelo were all signed to Virgin. “That was like a different day,” Pharrell waxes poetic, adding, “the most eclectic, incredible label ran by Nancy and Ken Berry had this president, Ashley Newton. I just think it’s so curiously interesting that 10, 15 years later, Ashley is over at Columbia and he signed Daft Punk.”

Those were the days – as the adage goes and as Pharrell explains it, “When we were in that creative world.” Diversity of the sounds were accepted and celebrated in the space he’s describing. “The Gorillaz were there too, Williams adds. “I met them at a time when our record company was like a frat house. Everyone celebrated their differences, the differences were the things that made them rare and gave them their value and it was just awesome.”

However, instead playing beer pong, this frat was thirsting for a different kind of carousing. “It was like going to the school of Xavier from X-Men,” he muses. “But those kids realized they had superpowers. They just didn’t know how to use them and thought they were weird because they were mutants amongst the rest of the kids. That’s how I felt when I got there.”

From those early days to now, Williams admits the journey has “been crazy.” When Daft Punk arrived from France to the States with their crossover album Homework, “there was a [dance music] scene, but it wasn’t what their music made it be [what it is today]. All of a sudden you just hear the rest of the world copying their sounds and variations of their inspiration that they left for people over the last 10 years.”

Pharrell Williams needs to create, organically, as does Daft Punk, even if they are robots. EDM fads have nothing to do with their mission. “It’s like when the corporations try to cash in on it [EDM], they kill it a little bit, and these guys [Daft Punk] are like ‘man we need to continue to do what we’ve always done, which is invent.’”

And now, mutants, enjoy the dance music with over 10 million views, "Get Lucky" AGAIN ONE MORE TIME...

additional reporting by Adelle Platon

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Nas Says 'Illmatic's Legacy Has “Started To Take On A Life Of Its Own"

Nas’ discography of studio albums has reached double-digits since the release of Nasir in 2018 but given this span, his fans and hip-hop aficionados continue to herald the impact of his debut album Illmatic. Celebrating 25 years this year, the “Cherry Wine” rapper raised a glass in commemoration of this milestone by previously hosting a Symphony Orchestra performance and receiving accolades along the way.

However, during an interview with Haute Living, the Queens native said although he’s grateful for the love of his platinum-selling project, “it has started to take on a life of its own.” The 46-year-old continued to state his claim by noting that the rest of his discography is worthy of recognition and that this year has been a good run for Illmatic.

"Twenty-five years is a lifetime. So I did another Symphony Orchestra show for Illmatic this year; I got another plaque for it. I’m very grateful—it’s so crazy—but to celebrate one album when I’ve made over 10, all the things I’ve worked on—and I’ve been working for so long—to celebrate one album over all else is corny to me," he said. "I don’t want to celebrate another Illmatic anything. I’m done. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for appreciating that record, but it’s over.”

While music will always remain a passion—Nas mentioned a third and fourth installment of his The Lost Tapes series—the entertainer might take his talents to other areas of creativity and entrepreneurship. “Maybe [I’ll open] a new level bookstore, maybe [I’ll do] Broadway,” he said. “I do three things at a time; that’s how I live. The next three things I do, I hope they’re more exciting than anything that I’ve ever done.”

Illmatic remains one of music's most vivid and poetic albums, hosting quintessential East Coast rap melodies from DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Faith N., and L.E.S. The sole feature goes to fellow The Firm member AZ.

In an interview with Red Bull, Nas discussed the real-life situations Illmatic hosts within its tracks which aids in its truth of standing the test of time. "There’s a lot of historical value in there. Back then there was a killing of a guy named [Jose “Kiko”] Garcia in Washington Heights by the police that I mention in my lyrics. I talk about the Supreme Team, a drug gang in Queens, and their leader named Supreme, who is now locked up," he said. "I talk about Ron G who was a Harlem mixtape DJ who was really popular at the time. It was kind of the first time you’d hear street conversation by someone who knew these guys personally at the time."

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Halle Berry Is #TeamZoeKravitz As Catwoman For Upcoming 'Batman' Film

Earlier this month, it was announced that actress/musician Zoe Kravitz would step into the sleuthing role of Catwoman for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Joining in on the chorus of people that are elated to see Kravitz in this role is fellow Catwoman Halle Berry.

The Oscar Award-winning actress took to Twitter to congratulate Kravitz on her new job, writing “Keep shining queen and welcome to the family!” Kravitz will star opposite Twilight’s Robert Pattinson who’ll play the Dark Knight.

Special shout-out to your new #CatWoman, the eternally graceful & extremely bad ass @ZoeKravitz. Keep shining Queen & welcome to the family! ♥️✨

— Halle Berry (@halleberry) October 17, 2019

In 2004, Berry starred as Catwoman in the film of the same name. Directed by Pitof, the movie also starred Alex Borstein, Benjamin Bratt, Frances Conroy, and Sharon Stone. Although the movie wasn't a box office success, Berry said it opened up a world of opportunities in Hollywood.

"Everybody around me said, 'Girl, don't do it. It's going to be the death of you. It's going to end your career.' But guess what I did? I followed my intuition and I did a movie called Catwoman and it bombed miserably," Berry said at 2004's Matrix Awards, per Glamour. "While it failed to most people, it wasn't a failure for me because I met so many interesting people that I wouldn't have met otherwise, I learned two forms of martial arts and I learned not what to do."

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Issa Rae Launches Her Own Record Label

Issa Rae has a lot of projects in the works, and she’s making room for another big venture. On Thursday (Oct. 18), the Insecure star announced the launch of her new record label, Raedio, along with introducing the world to TeaMarr, the imprint’s first artist.

“Beyond excited to present the first amazingly talented artist from my new label RAEDIO,” the Emmy winner captioned a clip of TeaMarrr’s music video where she makes a cameo.


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Beyond excited to present the first amazingly talented artist from my new label RAEDIO, TeaMarrr (@imaliltcup)! Check out her song and video, "Kinda Love" on all streaming platforms now! (@theraedio)

A post shared by Issa Rae (@issarae) on Oct 18, 2019 at 8:06am PDT

The record label is a partnership with Atlantic Records, according to Variety. Rae’s label will also be responsible for supervising the music on A Black Lady Sketch Show, which she executive produces.

“Music has always been an essential part of every project I do and working with emerging talent is a personal passion,” Rae said in a statement. “Raedio allows me to continue that work within the music industry and audio entertainment space. The Atlantic team are innovators in terms of shifting and shaping culture. I’m excited to join forces with them to discover new artists.”

Raedio is technically her first foray into the recording industry, but music has always been a “central character” in Insecure, Atlantic Chairman & COO Julie Greenwald noted.

“Issa Rae is a next-level, future-thinking creative force who’s been breaking down cultural barriers and conquering one field after another,” said Greenwald. “She’s made music a central character in her artistic evolution, and now she’s brought all that amazing passion, inspiration, and taste to the formation of Raedio. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Issa and her team on this exciting new venture, and TeaMarrr is the perfect artist to launch with.”

Wath TeaMarrr's  “Kinda Love” music video below.

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