When it comes to producers in the game, very few have been more innovative and impactful than Pharrell Williams. Since the early 1990’s, the Virginia Beach native has worked with just about every name in the game imaginable including Jay-Z, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Nelly, Babyface, Kelis and Kendrick Lamar. The 13-time Grammy Award winner has collaborated on some of the best-selling singles worldwide such as “Get Lucky,” “Give It To Me,” and “Blurred Lines.”
Considering how long his career has spanned, it’s only logical that Pharrell has countless stories that the world hasn’t heard. In a throwback interview on the Drink Champs podcast with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, we got a few that centered around some of the most iconic artists of all-time. The first was about the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Pharrell states that he sent John McClain (who was then Michael’s manager) basically everything that we eventually heard on Justin Timberlake’s debut album Justified in 2002. He revealed that all but one song on that album was written for Michael Jackson.
It’s worth noting that this was around the time that Michael Jackson released ‘You Rock My World’ from his tenth and final studio album Invincible. Imagine MJ getting production on his final album from Pharrell. Unfortunately for Pharrell, Michael was in a different type of bag at the time. Pharrell shares that John McClain told him specifically that “Michael don’t want that sh-t. He want the sh-t you’re giving Noreaga.” There are many instances of MJ showing fans different sides of him. So although hearing this is hilarious, it’s not at all unbeleivable especially since we know he was a huge hip-hop fan also.
As crazy as it is to think about Michael Jackson wanting to make music over a Noreaga type beat, that wasn’t all that the 50 year-old super producer shared. Pharrell recalls his first attempt at making a record for Prince was the track ‘Frontin,’ which he eventually kept for himself. As N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat there speechless, he explained that Prince didn’t want the song. Pharrell went on to mention how Prince heard a little bit of a different version of the song than what we know it to be today. He stated that Prince might’ve heard the melodies for the verses and the hook but wasn’t into it. Pharrell added a little bit more allure to the story when he mentioned that the song was literally him pretending to be Prince.
Even without the Michael Jackson and Prince collaborations, Pharrell has enjoyed a very successful career. Putting that aside for a second, as fans we are still dying to hear what those tracks would’ve sounded like. Although we’ll never find out, we are thankful for the music we’ve gotten from all three certified legends. Salute to Michael Jackson, Prince and Pharrell especially for him sharing these stories that we might not have heard otherwise.