Pharrell Breaks Down Songs He’s Produced For Usher, Britney Spears, Ray J And More

Unlike his Fountain of Youth complexion, Pharrell’s catalog is no secret. From lacing the beats for your favorite artist’s biggest hits, including Usher and Britney Spears, the “Happy” man of music reminisced on the biggest hits he’s produced in a recent interview with The Associated Press. Check out a snippet of the breakdown below: Usher, “U Don’t Have to Call” from “8701” (2001): Solely written by Pharrell, “U Don’t Have to Call” was another hit in Usher’s epic run as pop’s leading man in the early 2000s. “He’s just a maestro … his voice is unmatched … he supersedes what most people think he can do,” Pharrell said. “I just love when we’re able to do colorful black music. There’s nothing like that. I love all kinds of music and all genres, but obviously just colorful black music is a good feeling for me personally… We were even able to squeeze in two bridges, which is a rarity for pop radio.” Missy Elliott, “On & On” from “The Cookbook” (2005): “That’s one of my favorite hip-hop beats I’ve done of all-time because it’s so unorthodox,” Pharrell said. “It’s Missy, so you’re working with a person that’s genius. She morphs into anything. Her spirit is super-colorful and larger than life. And she knows how to tap into another zone.”

Britney Spears, “I’m a Slave 4 U” from “Britney” (2001): Thanks to knowing Jay Z, Pharrell met Justin Timberlake. Thanks to Timberlake being a great boyfriend, Pharrell met Britney Spears, and “I’m a Slave 4 U” was born. “Jay Z introduced me to him (at a club) in New York. He was there with a couple guys from N’Sync and Jay was like, ‘You have to meet this guy Justin Timberlake from N’Sync.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK, cool.’ Jay was like, ‘Y’all need to work together.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah. Sure.’ So we met up and we did ‘Girlfriend’ and funny thing is the song’s called ‘Girlfriend’ and Justin’s like, ‘I want you to work with my girl’ and I was like, ‘All right, cool,'” Pharrell explained. “So he set it up and we did like two songs. You know, we thought it was interesting, but I remember people going, ‘Oh you shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t work with people in pop.’ And I was like, ‘Man, we have to have way more vision than that and we have to be open to … other types of creativity and what that may bring… If you’re just closed-minded and you think categorical all the time, then you’re going to be a categorical producer and I didn’t want to do that.” Ray J featuring Lil Kim and Pharrell, “Wait a Minute” from “This Ain’t a Game” (2001): Before Kim Kardashian, Ray J was a singer on the rise, sort of. The Neptunes produced some of his second album, which included the addictive hit “Wait a Minute.” ”We just wanted to make something different and something that felt different,” Pharrell said. “I was just glad the folks wanted to go there. It’s awesome when the people want to go there. It feels like there’s a shift right now in music, you know. There’s so many really good and brave artists taking chances.”
Read Pharrell’s take on producing Beyonce’s “Blow”, Ma$e’s “Lookin’ At Me” and more here.