This past summer, I took the time to listen to the entirety of Pharrell’s production discography (including N.E.R.D. and The Neptunes) and my main takeaway was—he is a god. Skateboard P’s magic touch has singlehandedly made (and maintained) superstar careers including Nelly and Gwen Stefani/No Doubt. His recent jump into pop icon is entertaining, but it’s clear that Pharrell belongs behind the boards. Below is just a small sample of Pharrell’s amazingly deep and diverse history.
Boys (Co-Ed) Remix – Britney Spears ft. Pharrell
If I had to replay an intro to a song over again for the rest of my life, the “Boys” instrumental intro would have to be it. The DJ Mustard-esque tune over a simple snare is just too catchy, not to mention you can never have enough Britney adlibs. Complete with a rare Pharrell feature, the Co-Ed Remix is a hidden gem that, unfortunately, didn’t chart well. However, the video is perfectly early 2000’s, featuring Brit in her absolute prime.
Grindin’ – Clipse
“Grindin’” introduced the world to Clipse, charting at number 30 on the Billboard charts. With “Grindin,’” The Neptunes showed everyone how to use woodblocks, prefacing a beat style that would later dominate the charts in the 2000’s. Sparse percussion with a woodblock echo would later become a staple of The Neptunes’ toolbox. Fan of Pusha-T? Check out “Grindin’” for some early Pusha rhymes.
Drop It Like It’s Hot – Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell
You can’t mention Pharrell production without “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” After the single dropped in ’04, Pharrell had everyone clicking their tongues. Again, we see a small glimpse of rapper-Pharrell in addition to producer-Pharrell. As a bonus, the video is iconic, directed by Paul Hunter who recently paired back up with Pharrell for his new Apple Music “Freedom” video. Can Pharrell do everything well? (Yes. Check out his clothing label and children’s book. And he doesn’t age.)
Hella Good – No Doubt
I really really do love Gwen Stefani, but I honestly don’t know if she would be the star she is today without Skateboard P’s helping hand. “Hella Good” is no exception. The way the song layers heavier and heavier as it progresses is addicting and makes me miss the old No Doubt.
Sweet Life – Frank Ocean
“Sweet Life” showcases the versatility of Pharrell as a producer. The conversational baseline blends so smoothly with Frank’s voice that sometimes you lose track of what’s instrumental and what’s singing. In “Sweet Life,” P makes it clear that he doesn’t only produce bangers.
Girls Dem Sugar – Beenie Man ft. Mya
Beenie Man may not be your most household name nowadays, but the Jamaican star scored a charting single courtesy of The Neptunes. In “Girls Dem Sugar” Pharrell and Chad Hugo merge early 2000’s R&B with Jamaican ska-rap seamlessly; throw in a sensual hook from Mya and you have one extremely underrated rap song.
Today, everything Pharrell produces turns to gold…or diamond…or platinum (certification). He works with everyone relevant in the music industry, pairing up with Ed Sheeran on “x” and producing on the much-anticipated “25” by Adele. Luckily, Pharrell is more popular than ever and is just getting his own pop career started—so look out for more amazing tracks for years to come.
Think we left out a Pharrell song that you think deserves a mention? Comment below with your favorite track!