Pharrell Williams is a legendary producer who started off as one half of 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 nineties. With their unique sound and beautifully simplistic sonics, they swiftly took over the hip-hop charts with their beats and, by the early 2000s, were a household name.
Unlike his counterpart Hugo, Pharrell Williams went on to achieve great things in his solo career. 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.
With Pharrell having achieved so much and being such an inspiration to so many up-and-coming artists today, it was interesting to find out who inspired him to reach such heights. A lot of musicians have odd rider requests, but Pharrell’s is more inspirational than odd.
One individual who deeply inspired Williams growing up was astronomer and cosmologist Carl Sagan. In an interview with The Today Show, Williams revealed that he was in awe of Sagan after watching Cosmos as a child, stating he was “blown away and enamored.”
In a 2008 interview with Nardwuar, Williams declared, “I can only aspire to be someone that people learn as much from as they learned from Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan is to me what A Tribe Called Quest was to [NER*D] for music.” Sagan inspired Williams so much that the producer reportedly requests a photograph of the dearly departed astronomer to appear in his dressing room when he’s on tour.
Below you can watch a snippet of Cosmos featuring Carl Sagan.