How Pharrell Williams became a magnate
(Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg)


How Pharrell Williams became a magnate

From Timbaland to Kanye, from Dr Dre to Swizz Beats, American hip-hop and R’n’B most definitely had and still have a plethora of talented producers churning out incredible beats. However, when it comes to producers, there are none more pioneering than the legendary producer duo The Neptunes, in particular the multi-millionaire Pharrell Williams.

Comprised of the renowned Williams and the lesser-known Chad Hugo, The Neptunes rose out of a small Virginia town in the late nineties, but with their unique sound and beautifully simplistic sonics, swiftly took over the hip-hop charts with their beats and by 2003, were responsible for 43% of the songs on US radio, and the number only grew from there.

Having worked with rap stars and pop stars alike, including artists such as Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Keli and Britney Spears, The Neptunes were versatile in their production abilities. However, Pharrell unlike his counterpart Chad Hugo went on to have great success as a solo producer and rapper. His 2006 debut album, In My Mind, was received with mixed reviews but with regard to producing, he was still highly sought after as a solo artist.

Collaborating with the likes of Snoop Dogg and even being called upon for several soundtracks, including Hidden Figures and Despicable Me, Williams has certainly had a prolific career and has worked his way up to be the seventh wealthiest hip hop artist in the world today.

In this article, we explore some of the accomplishments the super-producer has made outside of music.

How Pharrell Williams became a magnate:

Star Trak Entertainment

No longer a functioning record label, Star Trak Entertainment was founded by Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams and Rob Walker in 2001. Star Trak was an imprint of Interscope and Universal Music and was a reference to Star Tek, a program of which Williams was a fan. Virginia Beach, Clipse released their 2002 debut album, Lord Willin’ through the label. R’n’B artist Kelis was also signed to the label.

N.E.R.D. released all of their projects through the label and even Snoop Dogg’s 2004 platinum-certified album Rhythm & Gangsta was released on the label. In 2013, Star Trak signed and released Robin Thicke’s hit-single ‘Blurred Lines’. However, this would be the label’s last release as Pharrell got caught up in a legal case which prompted him to finally dissolve Star Trak Entertainment.

Billionaire Boys Club

In 2003, Pharell teamed up with Japanese fashion designer Nigo (the founder of BAPE) to launch Billionaire Boys Club. The brand was one of the first to fuse streetwear, high fashion and hip-hop. Pharell also collaborated with the famous Japanese graphic designer Sk8thing for the company’s branding and marketing.

Billionaire Boys Club started out as an online fashionwear vendor branched out from its online origin, setting up a store in Tokyo, Japan and later expanding to New York and London. The brand has collaborated with numerous celebrities and has endorsed a number rappers. In 2011 the brand partnered up with Jay-Z.


ICECREAM was a subsidiary fashion label founded by Pharrell that was more affordable and acted as a skate wear brand. Pharrell made copious amounts of money during the mid-2000s and early 2010s through his contacts in the fashion world. As a result of his rapport with Nigo, Pharrell would not only go on to found Ice Cream but would also found Bee Line, and would frequently collaborate with BAPE, Adidas and Reebok. Williams also collaborated with G-Star for a line called ‘Raw for the Oceans’ which featured apparel made from recycled ocean plastic.

Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2

In 2010 Williams was approached to work on alongside Hans Zimmer and Heitor Pereira for the Despicable Me soundtrack. The film was a box office hit and was one of the highest-grossing films released that year. As such they commissioned a sequel Despicable Me 2. Williams worked on the soundtrack of the sequel also. It was released in 2013.


Following the success of Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ which was produced by Pharrell and fresh on the heels of Despicable Me 2, Williams signed a multi-million dollar album deal with Columbia Records. GIRL was Pharrell’s first solo album since his debut in 2006. The album spawned a number of chart-toppers such as ‘Happy’ and ‘Come Get It Bae’.

That year Williams featured on Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories which spawned the ubiquitous anthem ‘Get Lucky’, a song that would surpass platinum in over ten countries and would peak at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart.


Following the dissolution of Star Trak Entertainment, in 2014 Williams founded the multi-media creative collective iamOTHER in collaboration with Sony Music Entertainment. Through iamOTHER, Pharrell released new lines for Billionaire Boys Club as well as ICECREAM. Furthermore, Williams partnered up with YouTube to launch the iamOTHER channel as part of YouTube’s $100 million original channel initiative.


Upon launching iamOTHER, Williams also launched OTHERtone, a podcast dedicated to arts and culture which he hosts alongside, Scott Vener and Fam-Lay. The podcast has also hosted events and live recordings. The brand also entered a deal with Apple Radio to launch OTHERtone Radio which can be heard on Apple Music 1 (formerly known as Beats One).

As of 2023, Pharrell Williams is worth a jaw-dropping $250 million making him the sixth most wealthy figure in hip-hop. You can listen to Pharrell’s tips for success in the video below.