How Pharrell almost ruined a collaboration with Stevie Wonder
(Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg)

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How Pharrell almost ruined a collaboration with Stevie Wonder

Virginia super-producer, rapper and designer Pharrell has always seemed laidback and relaxed. Bursting onto the scenes in the early-2000s, the artist always seemed to be positive in his interviews and didn’t have the aggression some infamous MCs bring. However, on one occasion, the ‘Happy’ musician got so angry in the studio that he made a renowned singer cry. 

Pharrell Williams has worked with a vast array of artists spanning several genres, including soul, R’n’B and hip-hop. That said, in 2015, the Neptunes producer worked with the iconic pianist Stevie Wonder. However, he nearly derailed the studio session due to Snoop Dogg.

While recording the song ‘California Roll’, which features on Snoop Dogg’s 2015 album Bush, the Long Beach legend smoked so much weed that Pharrell ended up high and unable to conduct the studio session with Wonder properly. Although the ‘Blurred Lines’ beatmaker wasn’t inhaling directly, according to Snoop Dogg (real name Calvin Broadus), the second-hand smoke left him in a daze and completely lost.

Speaking to female emcee Latto for Rolling Stone magazine, Broadus detailed how the session went, explaining, “I got so many [favourite studio sessions]. One that stand out to me is when me, Pharrell, and Stevie Wonder was in the studio. We smoking. We in a little-ass room. Pharrell done got high, he got secondhand smoke!”

Revelling in this, Broadus continued, “Now Stevie in the booth, and Pharrell ain’t saying sh*t. Stevie in that motherf*cker trying to figure out what to do. I’m like, ‘Pharrell, produce this n*gga.’”

Broadus even disclosed that he had to take over the studio session, recalling, “This n*gga’s so high, he leaves Stevie in the booth and don’t give him no direction. I’m trying to tell Stevie what to do. I don’t know what the f*ck to do. I’m not a producer. I told the n*gga, ‘Just play anything.’ When we finished, Pharrell took all of the good sh*t that he played!”

Luckily, the track came out well in the end. The song was released as the third single for Bush and even had an accompanying music video directed by Warren Fu. You can watch the visuals for ‘California Roll’ below.