Hip-hop, across the years, has undoubtedly seen its fair share of legendary producers. From Timbaland to Kanye, from Dr Dre to Swizz Beats, US hip hop most definitely had and still has a plethora of talented producers churning out incredible beats. However, when it comes to producers, there are none more pioneering than the legendary Pharrell, one-half of the producer duo The Neptunes.
Comprised of the renowned Pharrell Williams and the lesser-known Chad Hugo, The Neptunes rose out of a small Virginia town in the late ’90s. With their unique sound and beautifully simplistic sonics, they swiftly took over the charts with their beats and were a household name by the early noughties. By 2003, The Neptunes 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, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, The Neptunes were versatile in their production abilities; however, not everyone wanted their music.
In 2002, the duo took on a role as executive producers of Justin Timberlake’s debut solo album, Justified. With his label wanting Timberlake to come out of the gates strong and on the right foot, they asked The Neptunes to produce Timberlake in order to align him with the mainstream. However, in an interview with rapper N.O.R.E on his Drink Champs podcast Pharrell unveiled a secret.
In conjunction with Timberlake, the Neptunes made several well-known hits such as the double-platinum ‘Rock Your Body’, ‘Señorita’ and ‘Like I Love You’. However, Pharrell has finally let it be known that these songs and others from the album were written and produced for Michael Jackson.
Speaking to N.O.R.E, Pharrell recalled: “John McClain was his manager at the time, we sent him pretty much everything you guys are hearing on the first Justified album. That’s all the Michael stuff. All but one song, they were all written for Michael!”
He continued: “Right before ‘You Rock My World’, right before that…and John McClain was like ‘Man Michael don’t want that sh*t! He want the sh*t you giving to Noreaga ( N.O.R.E)’ ”
Later in the interview, the producer also revealed how his song, ‘Frontin’ was meant for Prince. You can watch the full interview in the video below.