Pharrell Williams x The New Age Article
Pharrell Williams: a one-man heatwave. Pharrell Williams pouts. Like a girl. But it’s so darn sexy when he does it that he gets away with it. It’s Saturday night, the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg is packed and beads of sweat are trickling down people’s foreheads.
If the golden circle wasn’t like a furnace we’d blame the sweat on Skateboard P’s hotness. N*E*R*D are setting up when a subtle “uh huh” comes through the booming arena speakers. He’s only testing if the mic is on but the screams in the building threaten to pierce the cochlea. It’s almost time. When Hansa Pilsener announced they would be embarking on a Legends In The Making tour featuring some of Mzansi’s musos, many were intrigued. When they announced that Pharrell Williams would be the headline act for the last show of the tour, every girl in the land went mad.
You see, the frontman of hip-hop rock band N*E*R*D is a hit-making producer, singer and designer whose face is, as Gabrielle Solis would say, “proof of God’s existence.” OK, perhaps that is a bit far-fetched but Pharrell is so fine that I swear a few journos” hearts stopped for a few seconds when he sauntered into the press conference with N*E*R*D singer Shae Haley close behind him. The third member of N*E*R*D, Chad Hugo, had chosen to stay in Virginia with his family instead of being here, we are told. Pharrell’s look seems effortless with a white tee, blue jeans and a fresh pair of Nike Jordan III with the classic cement grey colourway.
Shay wears a Play Cloths jersey and never takes off his sunglasses. A member of the media asks them what the audience can expect from the show later on that night. Pharrell utters only one word, “Energy.” He’s right. The ladies are still screaming. A couple who have been cutting up the rug to a stellar performance by Malaika seem a little out of place. They eventually concede they cannot contend with tattooed white boys with long hair and girls who are spilling out of their dresses in hopes that N*E*R*D will spot them, and they push through the crowd, stepping on our jerseys as they eagerly leave the circle.
The lights bolt into the sky and on to the stage come the people we”ve been waiting for. Their popular, frenetic “She Wants To Move” has started a mini mosh pit. They are no Rammstein but they sure are rocking the crowd. The Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream clothing label founder wasn’t kidding when he said to expect energy. Friends scream at each other. “Mister! Look at your girl! She loves it!” Pharrell shouts back. “I can see it in her eyes.” He licks his lips. We’re clearly more excited than the band could ever be but at the press conference Pharrell attempted to counter that with, “You guys need to understand, we’re from America and we never thought we would see all of this,” he said, pointing out to the city beyond.
He continued appreciatively, “And all these beautiful, beautiful girls. It’s like the girls here grow on trees.” There is laughter all around. With an darkroom red light behind him, Pharrell croons “Hypnotize U“, the single off their fourth and latest album, Nothing. He’s already caused a ruckus with “Spaz” and “Lapdance” and brought the house down with the electric guitar-led “Rockstar (Poser)“. Hands shot up like skyrockets when the excellent drummer started “Sooner Or Later” and the nostalgic among us were transported back to a time when “God Bless Us All” lyrics, “With the world on your shoulders, what can you see?” were all that got them through some tough times. Now Pharrell just sings.
He’s come a long way since he sounded like he was just playing with his voice for fun on the iconic single “Provider“. It’s endearing, but it’s also surreal. Imagine this multitude of people who fill the Standard Bank Arena singing along to every word of Pharrell’s verse of Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot“. Pharrell points the mic out to the crowd and just listens. For the whole verse. This is the last song and girls have not given up on their chance to be with the rock star. There is an after-party after all. But, I wonder out loud, will he do the rock star thing and party with the people? As he responded when asked about his high-profile relationships, “Girls don”t like guys who kiss and tell.” He paused before he winked, “See you all later.”