Photos by Gareth Cattermole, Pharrell Williams has likened working on ‘The Lion King‘ to an “apprenticeship” or “college” because he was surrounded by so many legends. The ‘Happy‘ hitmaker collaborated on the soundtrack to the new live action remake of the Disney animated hit and he admits it was a “gift” to be around such “legendary” musicians and work on their versions of the iconic songs.
Pharrell Williams offers inside look at Something In The Water music festival.
Bisnoff: How did it feel for Daytona to receive a Grammy nomination for rap album of the year?
Pusha T: It was really super overwhelming, to be honest with you. I’ve been watching the Grammys for so long and I remember being really young and my favorites never were picked. Initially, they weren’t even nominated and then it got to a point where some of my favorites began to get nominated as I got older and then they were boycotting it. Finally, it got to a time where some really great rap artists, Jay-Z, Kanye West, were recognized and now, just recently, I was made aware that there was a new system being implemented in how they even did the rap category. I thought that was really dope and a good effort in trying to make sure the category was strong and representative of the hip-hop community. I get nominated this year and think the category is phenomenal. These are all albums that I have cosigned in some way, shape or form, whether it be on social media or speaking out about them and I’m just glad to be one of them.
Bisnoff: In the long trajectory of your career, how does it feel to finally get this type of recognition?
Pusha T: I love it, it’s super special. I personally can’t think of a rap artist with my content, this direct street-oriented content, something that is just catered to a rap purest, I don’t know when that’s happened for an artist of my caliber. There are so many subgenres of rap today, somebody who does this, I haven’t seen that, I don’t know when I’ve seen this. Not to liken my album to let’s say a Reasonable Doubt, but just in comparison, I feel like artists like myself or Jay-Z or whoever, we never get recognized at our purest form. We mature and then we hit a level of commercial success and then we get recognized when the critical acclaim is always for our first album. Daytona is still in that running for rap purest street music that people are going to be like ‘wow, I didn’t know albums that took this approach would ever get nominated.'” Read more at forbes.com.
He draws a parallel between collaborating and writing a song.
I think collaborations for me are where I learn about myself and others. It’s where I learn new techniques and new ways of thinking. It’s a means for me to elevate myself. Collaboration has given me so much, just like music has given me so much. It’s the same idea where the collision of two, three, four notes make a chord or a harmony. The same principle applies to when I work with another human being, when you combine different creative minds to make something new. It all comes down to discovery and learning in the end.
The question of cultural appropriation all depends on “who’s holding the paintbrush.”
Well it depends on who’s doing it. Cultural appropriation was born out of different groups feeling like something very dear to them in terms of their customs is being used by a group that wouldn’t normally be associated with those particular customs, but in a situation where it would be deemed offensive. I guess I’m trying to speak with diplomacy and I’m finding it hard to do so [laughs]. Because I would normally just say it in a different way. But I guess the best way to say it is that we in America currently live in a matrix that’s mainly tailored for the benefit of the older, straight white male.
Just ahead of taking the stage for his American Express Platinum House Concert at the 1 Hotel during Art Basel in Miami on Saturday, Pharrell Williams sat down with PEOPLE and opened up about the love of his life, wife of five years Helen Lasichanh. “I love her because of everything that she is, good, bad and indifferent,” Williams, 45, says of the model and designer. “We share a space in love that is, I don’t possess her. You know when I was young I used to say things like, ‘Oh, she’s mine.’” “But she’s not mine,” says Williams, before adding, “but she sure makes me feel like it.” “I’m exhausted,” he said just ahead of the performance, “just tired from this whole year.”
Williams says his time in South Africa — where he took the stage at Global Citizen Festival alongside Beyoncé and JAY-Z for their song “Nice” — was the most inspiring. “It was beautiful. I was there with all of my gorgeous people and DNA. It was beautiful to see all of that,” he says. “There’s a lot of familiar energy that you feel. Language might be different, customs might be different, but you feel the energy when you’re around your people. It’s just a natural thing.” “I didn’t say one word on the verse,” he says with a laugh. “But it was a blast — we had a great time.”
DOPE Magazine: Lets first talk about your set tonight. What does N.E.R.D have in store for Las Vegas at Life Is Beautiful?
Chad Hugo: Life Is Beautiful because life isbeautiful. When we get on stage, it’s like theater. We’re like a theater production. We’ve got dancers, a huge LED screen, a band, Pharrell, Shae, and I just wildin’ out playing our songs. Some stuff from our old albums, some stuff from our current album, “No One Ever Really Dies.” We’re just so excited to be here.
You mentioned Pharrell and Shae. N*E*R*D has been together for a lot longer than people think. You guys all grew up together, right?
I used to have a studio [above] a garage and people would bring over samples and stuff. We used just make music. Pharrell and I were in like a gifted and talented program and we just got together and started making music together. Kinda like our own little art school, except we weren’t enrolled in art school. We were always just striving to be on the radio in Virginia Beach.
Il a formé avec Pharrell Williams l’un des meilleurs groupes de l’histoire, il a produit des hits à n’en plus finir et adore… Ariana Grande
Voici le TRACK ID avec la LÉGENDE de N*E*R*D : Chad Hugo croisé au Paris Summer Jam 🔥 pic.twitter.com/yMZmo5b3Rg
— Konbini France (@KonbiniFr) September 3, 2018
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