All Articles Tagged "Pharrell Williams"
You know, there was a time when I used to adore Robin Thicke.
It was around the time of his first single, “When I Get You Alone.”
The song was hot. However there was something uniquely interesting about Thicke’s appearance; particularly his long hair and grungy Kurt Cobain-look, which also added to his appeal. It didn’t seem forced or like he was trying to overstep boundaries like so many other White entertainers who dibbled and dabbled in soul music at the time. Instead, he embodied all the elements of a cool White “urban” dude who just happened to have a decent voice and appreciation for soulful music.
And I could dig it. Soul music has produced a number of legitimately great Blue-eyed artists over the years. Teena Marie is one. Michael McDonald is another. And honestly, I thought that Thicke, who also played live instruments, could have been one of the good ones too. But for whatever reason that version of Thicke never did catch on.
I was reintroduced to Thicke during an India Arie concert held several years back in the outskirts of Philadelphia. It was on the eve of his return to music and he was Arie’s opening act. I took joy in being one of only five other Black people at this predominately Black concert who actually knew who the hell he was. But I was also disappointed because who I was seeing, wasn’t the same Thicke.
First one, he’d cut he hair. Secondly, he wasn’t in the grungy bike message outfit anymore; instead, he wore a suit and dress shoes. And even his music got a bit more provocative but still romantic. He was a mature family man now with grown man wants and needs. Everything about his new image felt like he was trying to cash in on what was happening now in Soul music. I wanted not to be mad. It wasn’t his fault that people weren’t feeling the stuff he was doing before. And clearly it appeared to be working. By the end of his set, the once hesitant and indifferent Philly audience gave him a rousing applause. A few folks even yelled out, “Go ‘head White boy…”
And he most certainly did go on. But as time and album sales progress, Thicke’s image also went through another transformation. Instead of the family man, he started hanging out late nights with the rappers. He wore sunglasses indoors and began talking like Rat Pack members. His love songs were replaces with tracks about blurring lines. He was cocky and obnoxious and a far cry away from the cute White boy with the decent voice.
It is a good thing that this verdict in the “Blurred Lines/Got To Give It Up” case came down the way that it did. Not just for the sake of the estate of Marvin Gaye. And not just so that I can say I told you so in what had to be the most unnecessary divisive pop culture issue in the Black community. But also for the sake of Thicke. Perhaps this verdict is the wake up call he needs? Maybe now he’ll realize that it is time to ditch those stupid sun shades, get himself into a good rehab program where he can get his mind right and get back to the old Thicke? I mean, he don’t have to grow out his hair or anything, but at least he can stop being so sleazy.
With that said even with a complete 180 shift, it might be too late for Thicke’s career. At least in R&B and Soul genre anyway.
Even with the best and most popular “urban” producers and songwriters at his disposal, I just don’t see Thicke being able to regain the trust of the very loyal fan base, who got him on top. The fan base, which he worked so hard over the years to appeal to with his various makeovers. In particular, those Black fans who fought tooth and nail in defense of Thicke, even going as far as to throw out terms like “reverse racism” and make claims of bigotry at other people who rightfully pointed out the similarities between both tracks. It sounds in jest, but those arguments got pretty divisive and ugly and included lots of deep-seated racial conflicts based around historical realities.
For instance, one of the more popular arguments was that “we” – as in other Black people who happened to side with the estate of Marvin Gaye – had no problem with Black rappers sampling other people’s music. While it has been true that many Black producers and DJs had a long history of abusing the sampling machine, it has also been true that many of those same entertainers have been successfully sued in courts for copyright infringement.
As noted by Public Enemy’s Chuck D in this archived interview from Stay Free! Magazine:
“Corporations found that hip-hop music was viable. It sold albums, which was the bread and butter of corporations. Since the corporations owned all the sounds, their lawyers began to search out people who illegally infringed upon their records. All the rap artists were on the big six record companies, so you might have some lawyers from Sony looking at some lawyers from BMG and some lawyers from BMG saying, “Your artist is doing this,” so it was a tit for tat that usually made money for the lawyers, garnering money for the company. Very little went to the original artist or the publishing company.”
And yet while the record companies and their lawyers are making fortunes reclaiming “their” music from the rappers, many Black entertainers have yet to see a dime for the years of their own work being stolen and misappropriated.
This includes Pat Boone, who made an entire fortune off of revamping Black music for White consumption. Since it was the 50s, everything was segregated. And since white people owned everything including the radios, it was extremely unlikely that Black artist found their ways to the airways. Boone began recording in 1954 and gain massive success with his Wonder Bread-version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame.” And throughout his career, he would re-image the work of dozens of popular Black artists including Little Richard, The El Dorados and even Nat King Cole – most times without their consent and pre-approval.
Even worse Boone has always been a hard right conservative, who not only was a huge supporter of Ronald Reagan, but also a “birther,” who thinks President Barack Obama is Arab Muslim with a photoshopped birth certificate and therefore, disqualified for the presidency of the United States. And this proves once again that not everyone who performs – or even likes – Black music, actually likes Black people.
And I’m not saying that Thicke is some closet racist like Boone. I surely hope not! But it is going to be hard for many folks to now think about Thicke – and this whole mess involving the estate of Marvin Gaye – without thinking about Boone and all the misappropriation and flat-out exploitation of Black music over the decades. I mean, he filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against the estate, in lieu of just paying them off. Short of wearing an afro and Dashiki and singing protest songs in the key of #BlackLivesMatter, there isn’t an revamped image cool enough on this planet to make people forget about that.
Honestly, Pharrell and T.I, who were co-defenders in this lawsuit, should be on the music shit list too. And likely they are. I can certainly see some of the higher up music executives thinking the two are liabilities now. With that said, (and if I can be uber-frank here) Pharrell and T.I. are Black . And as much as some folks might want to trade them away in the racial draft (and as much as they both might want to leave voluntarily) we are all stuck together on this ship called the U.S. White supremacy.
Thicke, on the other hand, is a privileged White guy with lots of options musically to go. And if Black people have to work twice as hard in society for half as much, he should be given those same expectations in respects to our culture. Therefore, his soul music pass just might be revoked.
“Pharrell Created ‘Blurred Lines’ From His Heart, Mind And Soul”: Rep For Producer Says They Might Appeal Copyright Infringement Decision
Obtained by Billboard, the producer’s rep issued a statement (which would end up being a statement for Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I.–with the rapper being off the hook for his small role in the song) saying that they are “extremely disappointed” by the jury’s decision. They are weighing out their options and the artists just might not cough up the $7.3 million they were ordered to pay Marvin Gaye’s family for being a little too ‘inspired’ by his 1977 hit, “Got To Give It Up.”
“While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward. Pharrell created ‘Blurred Lines’ from his heart, mind and soul and the song was not taken from anyone or anywhere else. We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”
If you were following the case, you know that even though Williams said that he has always looked up to Gaye, he claimed that he was inspired by the 70’s sound when he put the track together–not necessarily “Got To Give It Up” specifically.
“The last thing you want to do as a creator is take something of someone else’s when you love him.”
People have been debating whether or not “Blurred Lines” was a complete rip-off considering that the melodies are very similar–even if everything else about it is different. Check out this mash-up below and share your thoughts.
Got To Give It Up: Jury Finds Pharrell And Robin Thicke Copied Marvin Gaye’s Music For “Blurred Lines”
A jury has decided that artists Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit song “Got to Give It Up” for their 2013 banger “Blurred Lines.” As a result the Gaye children were awarded $7.3 million.
According to the Associated Press, Nona Gaye, Marvin’s daughter, cried when the verdict was read and her attorney Richard Busch hugged her.
She said later, “Right now, I feel free. Free from Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies we were told.”
Meanwhile, an attorney for Williams and Thicke said the verdict could have a “chilling effect on musicians who try to emulate an era or another artist’s sound.”
Gaye’s lawyers argued that Williams and Thicke went beyond emulation and copied the song outright.
You may remember earlier in the trial, Thicke testified that though he is credited on the album, he did not write “Blurred Lines.” Williams later testified that he wrote the song in an hour back in 2012.
While Williams acknowledged that Gaye’s music was a part of the soundtrack of his childhood, he didn’t use any of it to create “Blurred Lines.”
Throughout the trial jurors heard testimony that detailed the analysis of chords and notes in “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up.”
An expert for the Gaye family said that there are eight distinct elements from “Got to Give It Up” that were also used in “Blurred Lines.” An expert for Williams and Thicke denied the claim.
When Marvin Gaye died in 1984, he left the copyright to his music to his children.
While this is the official verdict, appeals for this case could go on for years.
Ever since Pharrell Williams’ Happy took over the airwaves, the upbeat song has been bestowing blessing after blessing for the multifaceted entertainer. This time, the chart-topping single brought Williams a picture book deal for the kids, ABC reports.
Happy, released in June 2013 as part of Despicable Me 2’s soundtrack, is 2014’s best-selling song. The Oscar-nominated feel-good single sold 6.4 million copies in 2014, went triple platinum, and reached the hearts of millions overseas, and landed Williams an interview with the legendary Oprah Winfrey.
You can’t quite put Pharrell in a box. He’s not just a performer, or just a rapper, or just a producer. He’s all of that and more. He’s been a shape-shifter in the music industry more almost two decades, but it was only recently that the worldwide spotlight propelled the Happy musician into super-fame.
But besides writing and producing one of the hottest singles of our time, Pharrell, worth $80 million, is quite the mastermind when it comes to entrepreneurship and business.
Let’s take a look at some of Pharrell’s most brilliant enterprises over the years.
This evening, Pharrell Williams performed his 2014 smash hit, “Happy,” with an interesting twist. The 41-year-old stepped on stage dressed as a bellhop, singing a different rendition of the song before transitioning into the regular version. He’s eventually joined by Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang and composer Hans Zimmer. His performance also included a dancing choir. Williams concluded his performance and looking up before saying, “As you can see, I’m at your service, Lord.”
Check out his full performance below.
The Academy Awards is one of the biggest award shows of the year, and yet, this year’s list of nominees is not all that exciting. Could it be the highlighted films were so-so — or all the “snubbery” happening? Here’s a rundown of this year’s Oscar nominations and people they failed to recognize.
FYI — all of the acting nominees are White.
Did you tune in to see the 2015 People’s Choice Awards? Hosted by Mom stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney, the night honors some of the best entertainers in film, television and music. What makes this awards show unique are the voters — the people. Here’s a rundown of the night’s winners and those who should’ve won.
Pharrell Williams appears on the cover of Ebony magazine this month. And while he touches on a variety of different topics, the discussion that stands out the most is his rather uncomfortable comments on Michael Brown Jr.’s life and death. When asked about his thoughts on surveillance footage of Brown stealing cigars from a convenient store minutes prior to his death, the producer questioned why Brown’s action’s weren’t being discussed.
“It looked very bully-ish; that in itself I had a problem with,” Williams explained. “Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?”
Now in the producer’s defense, this interview was conducted prior to Sunday’s verdict; however his comments still don’t really seem appropriate (at least not right now) considering that this child was murdered. Perhaps Brown’s behavior could be explored at a later date, but doing so as the world sat around praying and hoping that his killer is brought to justice doesn’t seem like the best time.
Later in the interview, he made it clear that regardless of his behavior, Michael Brown did not deserve to die, but this didn’t seem to make his prior question sting any less.
“I believe that Ferguson officer should be punished and serve time. He used excessive force on a human being who was merely a child. He was a baby, man. The boy was walking in the middle of the street when the police supposedly told him to ‘get the f–k on the sidewalk.’ If you don’t listen to that, after just having pushed a storeowner, you’re asking for trouble. But you’re not asking to be killed. Some of these youth feel hunted and preyed upon, and that’s why that officer needs to be punished.”
While discussing Ferguson, Williams also questioned President Barack Obama failing to find his way to the heartbroken city.
“Wow. I do not want to get myself in trouble, but I felt like the president should have gone down there. I think sending Attorney General Eric Holder was a kind gesture, but the president should have gone. He didn’t have to go and take a side; all he needed to do was show his presence and everybody would have straightened up. But he didn’t go.
I won’t fault him. He’s a man with a lot of weight on his shoulders, but I personally would have gone because being a ‘man of the people’ means you’re right there with them in it. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. led by example.”
Check out Pharrell’s full interview here.
How many superstars have come out of the hit talent show The Voice? Can’t think of many? Neither can I. This lack of hits has some questioning if the show, which started its seventh season on Sept. 22, is more to boost the careers of the coaches than the unknown talent.
Billboard provides some striking evidence.
“After all, despite its initial raison d’etre, the show, three years in, has never launched an actual star along the lines of American Idol alums Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood…So the show’s greatest use (despite the pleasure in seeing unknowns succeed, or fail, in assorted renditions of cover tunes) has turned out to be something else: taking established artists and making them bigger — much bigger — while showcasing a celebrity chemistry using high-caliber names that usually don’t tread in prime-time reality,” notes Billboard.
Adam Levine even contends he and his band, Maroon 5, had kind of cooled off until he joined on as a coach for the show. He signed on in 2011 for three years, and now his revived popularity has spun off into other ventures. He has a clothing line with Kmart and two fragrances. Maroon 5’s first CD, Overexposed, following Levine’s joining The Voice debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The group’s latest, “V,” topped the Sept. 20 chart with sales of 164,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Then there’s Blake Shelton’s revamped career. The country crooner has gained mega popularity from the show. Now a cross-over sensation, Shelton’s seventh record, Based on a True Story…, which debuted after the season four premiere, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and sold 199,000 copies sold its first week. And, JCPenney is sponsoring his current tour.
Christina Aguilera didn’t come back this year, but she is “rumored to have been paid the most among the coaches: $12 million (a figure several industry sources suggest is exaggerated).” Regardless, Aguilera proved to gain selling power from the show. “Last November, the day after pop duo A Great Big World rereleased its track “Say Something” with Aguilera joining on vocals, they all performed it on The Voice. Sales of the song shot up by 1,761 percent by the end of the week,” reports Billboard.
Season six had Usher and Shakira. “Shakira was big — in a way — before,” says Paul Telegdy, NBC president of late-night and alternative programming. “She’s a household name in America now.” One of the newest coaches, Gwen Stefani could use a career boost. She seemed to all but disappear. But Pharrell Williams seems to have joined at one of his career peaks, enjoying the crazy success of his hit single “Happy.”
NBC is another winner from the show. The network came in No. 1 in adults 18-49 in 2013, mainly due to The Voice. Before the network began airing the show, it was in last place among the networks.
The show has suffered a drop lately in ratings however; it has declined from season-long averages of more than 14 million viewers, according to NBC.
For Williams, who won’t be returning for the spring, it’s still about the music. “I consider this another great musical endeavor,” he says. “I’m still in the studio with Ed Sheeran. I’m still going in with Gwen. This is a studio session to me.”
Well, well, well, this was quite a pleasant surprise. Pharrell Williams—who is racking up the awards tonight—opened the 2014 BET Awards with his latest single, “Come Get It Bae.” Then, when we thought his performance was about to be over, the super catchy beat for “Pass That Dutch” dropped and out walks Missy Elliot with a microphone in hand!
We can’t remember the last time we saw the 42-year-old hit-maker perform live, but homegirl did not miss a step, spitting her verses and popping those dance moves like she never left. We are soooo here for her return to the limelight.
I want to Thank my brother @Pharrell for believing in me and showing me so much love on his set! May God continue to bless u!
— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) June 30, 2014
Last week, we told you that Missy dropped a verse on Faith Evans’ new track, “I Deserve It.”
Check out Missy’s performance with Pharrell below.
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