Image from playthishiphop.com
Hearing those classic chords for the first time as a young, petulant kid was something I’ll never forget. Between 2005-2006, YouTube was still in its infancy and music was held under the responsibility of television/radio media and illegal downloads.
In a dark-lit room right before the strike of sunrise, the glow of the television portrayed alternating snapshots of Pharrell and Kanye atop a yacht or in front of a still image of a flower. In the dim and groggy room, Number One by Pharrell was playing on TV. Packed with my academic gear and winter apparel, there was no way I had to leave the house.
Video uploaded by Pharrell Williams (YouTube)
The bus would have to wait for a couple of minutes, or just leave without me. The booming snares of the television seethed The Neptunes’ iconic electric chords and pelting bass. Pharrell and Kanye couldn’t have displayed much more exaggerated suave, but it was one of the most inspiring images for an eight-year-old to witness.
Ten years later the music video had never slipped past my memory. Once graduating high school and expanding my maturity for musical tastes, Pharrell’s genius shot back into my cranium.
MTV and VH1 showed new music that was calibrated by the influences of twentieth-century Rap, Jazz, R&B, and Pop. Any new wave or musical style that was emerging was due to the influences of previous sound martyrs. Eminem looked up to the Wu-Tang Clan, as Gorillaz were integrating sounds of polished orchestral noise and Nirvana’s synths into their albums.
Image from imdb.com
Pharrell has stated being influenced by the likes of many artists, such as J Dilla and Quincy Jones, which is inexplicably shown in his music.
Image from variety.com
His sound seems to contain the soul of those artists and revise their touches with modern enhancements and style. Pharrell had proved that with his alternative R&B crew N.E.R.D, but seems to have taken it to another level in his solo effort, In My Mind.
In My Mind was released in the Summer of 2006. With all the nuances that defined Pharrell previously, this album is purely his sound. With fifteen tracks compacted into arcane melodies that craft the world he created.
Tracks such as Stay With Me and Angel don’t sound like any other song. The sound of Stay With Me feels flaunting. Typical R&B music that contains that essential sound of ostentatious display. Angel is a typical love song that celebrates every moment with the partner. Although, what makes these songs is what Makes Pharrell himself.
Image from allmusic.com
The Neptunes’ style chords compounded with Pharrell’s high pitched voice and Pop-appeal. With every song that contains these elements, these elements are warped and construed in different ways.
Songs like You Can Do It Too sounds slightly humbling, as Take It Off (Dim The Lights) is the sensuous noise you can expect someone like Pharrell to perfect. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint why his sound, in general, is so special after all these years.
Looking back at the single Number One while eagerly awaiting the song through, there was a special quality that I feel can’t be replicated. I also recall listening to Stay With Me whilst driving to work during the long Winter evenings. Even though the reasons for my predilection for this album could be unique to me, the album itself has been cited by the likes of Tyler, The Creator.
That could be the reason behind every album in general. An album, single, or artist someone may develop a liking to, will mostly appeal to the moment in time where the music was present in their life.