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.
But in an interesting interview, Williams spoke on the music he listened to growing up and even unveiled the music that he remembers fondly his experiences dating.
Talking about the music his parents and family played in the house when he was an infant, he revealed he was exposed to a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire stating, “I was raised on Earth, Wind and Fire. ‘Can’t Hide Love’ (from the LP Gratitude) was the first record that influenced my life. My mom and dad used to play this song a lot when I was a kid. That song changed me as a kid. I think that’s what made me a singer. In fact, Earth, Wind and Fire are probably what made me, full stop – that’s baby-making music, man!”
Speaking about his breakdancing days before he got into skateboarding, Pharrell revealed that his number one b-boy jam was ‘Planet Rock’ by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force. Detailing how the track impacted him Williams declared, “This record changed my life. It was a phenomenon. The whole neighbourhood was playing it on boomboxes. I didn’t understand what the hell it was. It was like some space sh*t. Then, just after ‘Planet Rock’, there was Run-DMC’s ‘It’s Like That’. Those two records were incredible. And Art of Noise. I was a breakdancer back then. I didn’t know I was going to be a musician at that stage.”
Finally getting to the story of the track he loved the most growing up as an adolescent in Virginia, Williams explained how he loved ‘Bonita Applebum’ so much he played it for girls he dated regularly, disclosing, “‘Bonita Applebum’ was the first single from the album (People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm), and my friend in Virginia got hold of a copy of it. I was so amazed by that record that I lost my mind. I didn’t know what it was, I was like, “Oh my god!”. I played it day in, day out. Every girl I dated had to listen to it over and over late at night, and we had to have nightly discussions about it. We needed to talk about how it took us to other worlds. Those girls are all probably laughing right now, thinking: Damn, he was a musician but didn’t know it!”
You can listen to ‘Bonita Applebum’ below in the video below.