Pharrell Shares Advice For Freshmen Producers

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Pharrell Williams‘ influence on the past two decades of music almost goes without saying, but we’ll re-state it here—if you’re looking for a hit, Skateboard P is a one-stop shop to find the tools to get you to the top of the charts. Throughout the years, those tools have often come in the form of bouncy, futuristic space-funk beats that have come to define a certain type of hip-hop—Clipse’s “Grindin’,” Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” are three major examples—but he’s also taken his singing and hook-making talents to the No. 1 spot, particularly recently.

In the past 12 months alone, Pharrell has had three songs—Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” alongside T.I., Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and his own “Happy“—reach the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100, with two of those—”Blurred Lines” and “Happy”—enjoying extended runs at the No. 1 spot. But things haven’t always been the rosiest for one of the hottest producers in the game; it was a slow start for Pharrell, coming from Virginia alongside his Neptunes partner-in-crime Chad Hugo, but the two steadily built their influence in the game until their talent and ear for beats and hits were flatly undeniable.

With his sophomore album, G I R L, debuting in the No. 2 slot on the Billboard 200 in March, as well as performances at the Oscars and four Grammys—including Record Of The Year for “Get Lucky”—at the 2014 awards in January, Pharrell is showing no signs of cooling offXXL spoke to the super producer about breaking into the music industry, maintaining relationships over the years, and any advice he has for new producers trying to break into the industry. Lose yourself to dance. —Dan Rys