Pharrell Williams, arguably the most successful man in music over the past year, finally sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an exclusive hour-long interview in the latest episode of Oprah Prime. In his New York City loft, the reserved producer discussed everything from his upbringing, to his musical controversy and how he and his wife met, for the first time.
In true Oprah-fashion, their enlightening conversation moved Pharrell to tears. The once outcast Virginia Beach native often emphasized his life and success were not an accident. Throughout the interview, it became obvious that Williams' mind operates on a unique plateau, in which most will not be able to grasp without reading The Alchemist or actually listening to the words of his music.
Winfrey was able to portray a side of Williams that showed a 41-year-old man who is humbled by all of the success he has accomplished, is still working to accomplish, and has yet to even dream of. He is also a man who is madly in love with his wife, and that is pretty awesome in itself.
Here are the Best moments from Pharrell's Oprah Prime Interview.
1) "I could just be a guy with the demo but for whatever reason, the people hoisted me so high that I know what the top of the clouds look like."
Pharrell loves his fans and often accredited his success to everyone but himself. He mentioned his teachers, his grandmothers, a number of various people along the way, and his female fans as the people who saw something in him and moved him to the level of stardom he currently enjoys. His shy upbringing as a musical talent from Virginia Beach created his endearing humility. Now, the very same people who made him feel like he did not fit in are singing his praises for standing out.
2) "Music was so real to me... it was in the air everywhere we went."
The G I R L singer reflected on his humble upbringings in Virginia Beach, VA. He recalled that he and his friends would ride their bikes around their project and hear different music in each section- from Stevie Wonder, to Luther Vandross, and Earth, Wind, and Fire- which ultimately influenced his deep admiration for sound. Soon after, he and Chad Hugo met in a gifted musicians program at their local middle school. They formed the super duo production team, The Neptunes and eventually became responsible for creating the 43% of the music played on the radio in the U.S. alone.
3) "Life is a lesson... It's a series of adjustments and you have to start to recognize the signs."
Williams credits The Alchemist for changing his views on the journey of his life. The book, recommended for anyone who is searching for their purpose, instilled in him that the "universe conspired" to make his own dreams a reality. From his first hit with Teddy Riley in 1997, he remains grateful for the people and experiences who got him to where he is today.
Pharrell submitted nine songs to the producers of Despicable Me 2 before the Happy fans know and love, was finally approved. Originally, Pharrell admitted that he "over thought" the concept of the song they requested and it wasn't until he was completely out of ideas that he was able to let his mind flow. Without reason or ego, he first created the church-inspired chords for the song and then the lyrics came to him in the shower. Initially, it did not get any radio play at all. In November, after they released the video, it started to gain momentum and became a song and movement of its' own.
5) "It's overwhelming because... I love what I do, and I appreciate the fact that people have believed in me for so long that I could make it to this point to feel that."
Pharrell's Happy video was recreated all over the world, which the 41-year-old dad "did not see coming." Oprah and her team gathered a montage of the thousands of submissions on YouTube, from Portugal to Washington DC. When they watched it, Williams broke down in tears, which consequently made Oprah tear up too. He kept repeating, "The people made this happen." After all of those years as a child who barely fit in, being the guy that everyone loves made Pharrell and Oprah emotional, in perhaps what became the greatest moment of their sit down. Oprah then responded, holding back tears, "I get it."
6) "I miss interpreted what Jay was doing. What I didn't realize was that Jay and Puff were serving their purpose(s)... I was paying attention to the pixie dust in the magic trick."
Pharrell's first album was nothing like G I R L. He described himself as "the guy next to the guy", when Oprah asked him about working with 21st century icons like Jay Z. Once the creative genius responsible for altering the sounds of too many artists to name, stepped out of the studio, he realized that what he was doing was a watered down, carbon copy of his peers' lyrical content. When he first came on the music scene, he admitted that he wanted to be like Diddy and Jay Z, who rapped about their love for material things. "I was happy... until Jay and Puff became my peers," he revealed. Now that the father and husband is in a different place, he realized that his first solo projects weren't as genuine as they could have been, later admitting, "he wasn't ready."
7) "If women wanted to shut this country down, all they would have to do is not go to work and not come home."
After the backlash from he and Robin Thicke's hit song Blurred Lines caused many female fans to question his intentions, a part of him wanted to make up for the grave misinterpretation of its' lyrical content. He explained that the song was meant to show that, "Most women are good girls and even good girls have bad thoughts, so there is a blurred line." Soon after, he decided to make the album that he'd always wanted to make, dedicated to the women who made him who he is today. He told Oprah that, "Women have to live everyday, dealing with the notion of a male-dominated society", when in his opinion, women have held the power all along. "If women got tired if the way we were handling ourselves a species, all they have to do is hold hands and stop making babies." Watch Pharrell express similar sentiments in a recent interview with the BBC.
8) "The name of my album is not called R A C E , its called G I R L."
More controversy came Skateboard P's way after the cover art from his album was released earlier this year. Various reports claimed that Williams left out women of color on purpose, which caused quite a stir within the black community. At first, he was upset because he felt it divided people, at a time when he was on the verge of becoming the first African-American to have a No.1 song in an entire year. He also confirmed that the woman standing closest to him was of color, before introducing his idea of "The New Black", which at its' core undoes the race and "pigmentation" issues within the African American community. He told Oprah, "You should not find confidence outside of your mirror. I recognize that there are issues. We get judged on our skin... But I don't allow that to run my life."
9) "She just reminded me so much of myself... She just stood out. I was just like, who and what is that?"
For the first time ever, Williams spoke of what attracted him to his wife. Pharrell and Helen Lasichanh had been dating for years and got married at the end of 2013, but in the beginning of their relationship he admitted that "she ignored half of [his] text messages." After an enticing conversation at a friends' party, Williams was immediately intrigued by the gorgeous model, but she had a boyfriend at the time. After two and a half years of dating and some mistakes on his part, he decided to leave his past behind him and marry his "best friend." They made a decision to make things official and never looked back. She surprised him with a sweet batch of cupcakes in the opening scene of the interview for his 41st birthday.
10) "In the same way the Indians name their children after spirits... We named him after a man made machine that his meant to ascend."
Williams and Lasichanh are the parents of 5-year-old Rocket Ayers Williams. At first, many fans did not understand the reasoning behind why they named him that, besides the fact that it is a cool name, but in true Pharrell fashion, it had a hidden and soulful meaning. In addition to the explanation above, the name Rocket is also a nod to some of his favorite music, including Rocket Love by Stevie Wonder, Elton John's Rocket Man and Herbie Hancock's Rockit. His middle name, Ayers, is after another one of his favorite artists, Roy Ayers.
11) "The height that the people have lifted me to... only puts an exclamation behind me understanding my purpose."
One thing is for sure, Pharrell is just as humble as we all thought in the beginning. Oprah later tweeted that it was one of her favorite interviews, and if you did not see it, we suggest you watch the re-air next Sunday at 9pm, on OWN. When Oprah says it's good, you have to believe her.
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) April 14, 2014
Or, you can try and watch it at the link, here. If you have not already, purchase Pharrell's album G I R L on iTunes now.