Pharrell names the favourite songs he’s ever made
(Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg)


Pharrell names the favourite songs he's ever made

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.

That said, in a 2014 interview with the Associated Press, Williams reflected on the music he has made over the years and picked some of the most enjoyable tracks he has produced and explained why he loved them.

Pharrell’s favourite Pharrell productions:

5. Usher – ‘U Don’t Have To Call,’ 8701, (2001)

Reflecting on the music he was making at the turn of the millennium, Williams recalled working on Usher’s third studio album, 8701. The 2001 project reached number five on the Billboard 200, and the Pharrell-produced ‘U Don’t Have To Call’ earned Usher a Grammy Award for ‘Best Male R&B Vocal Performance’. 

Looking back, Williams explained to the AP,  “[Usher’s] just a maestro. His voice is unmatched. He supersedes what most people think he can do. I just love it when we’re able to do colourful black music. There’s nothing like that. I love all kinds of music and all genres, but obviously, just colourful black music is a good feeling for me personally. We were even able to squeeze in two bridges, which is a rarity for pop radio.”

4. Jay-Z – ‘So Ambitious,’ The Blueprint III, (2009)

Pharrell has worked with Jay-Z on many occasions. The Virginia native produced ‘Allure’ from Carter’s The Black Album and has been a close collaborator of Hov’s since the release of ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’. 

Speaking about working with Jay on his 2009 Blueprint III, Williams explained, “He just continues to get better — it’s like fine wine! He’s something else. When you talk to him, you see purple. He’s wisdom.” The track was not released as a single but became a fan-favourite.

3. Missy Elliott – ‘On & On,’ The Cookbook, (2005)

In the early-2000s, Missy Elliott worked primarily with her close friend Timbaland. However, both Missy and Pharrell rose out of Virginia during its musical heyday and the two created magic in 2005 with Elliott’s track ‘On & On’.

Opening up about the instrumental, Williams stated, “That’s one of my favourite hip-hop beats I’ve done of all time because it’s so unorthodox. It’s Missy, so you’re working with a person that’s genius. She morphs into anything. Her spirit is super-colourful and larger than life. And she knows how to tap into another zone.”

2. Pharrell ft Daft Punk – ‘Gust Of Wind,’ GIRL, (2014)

In 2007, Kanye West sampled French EDM duo Daft Punk. However, in 2013, Pharrell Williams decided to collaborate with them in a more authentic capacity. For his fourth studio album, GIRL, Pharrell worked with the Frenchmen on ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Gust Of Wind’.

Speaking on the creation of the single, Williams explained to the AP,  “A song tells you what it needs, where it goes, or what melody is missing, or if there could be more. With ‘Gust of Wind,’ it felt good, and I loved the song, but I was like, ‘Man, you know, this just feels perfect for the robots to get on the chorus and harmonize with me. I played it for them and instantly, you know, they’re robots, and they just got right to it. There was no lag time.”

1. N.E.R.D. – ‘Inside Of Clouds,’ Nothing, (2010)

Williams’ alternative hip-hop rock fusion band have created some ingenious music over the years, and in 2010, they released their album Nothing. Two tracks that Pharrell loved making were ‘Life As A Fish’ and ‘Inside Of Clouds.’

Speaking about their meaning, Williams elaborated, “‘Life As a Fish,’ that was an ode to awareness and the value of awareness. ‘Inside of Clouds’ was about “the appreciation for water and what it means to our own biosphere.”