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Pharrell Biography:

Pharrell Williams was born on April 5, 1973, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was born eldest of three sons to Carolyn, a teacher, and Pharoah Williams, a handyman. He met Chad Hugo in a seventh grade summer band camp where Williams played the keyboards and drums and Hugo played tenor saxophone. They were also both members of a marching band; Williams played the snare drum while Chad took the role of student conductor. Along with Hugo, Williams attended Princess Anne High School where they played in the school band.

In the 1990s, Hugo and Williams formed a 4-piece “R&B type” group along with friends Shay Haley and Mike Etheridge, which they named The Neptunes. They later entered a high school talent show where they were discovered by Teddy Riley, whose studio was next to Princess Anne High School. After graduating from high school, they signed with Riley as a group.

Through working with Teddy Riley, Williams went on to write a verse for Wreckx-N-Effect’s 1992 hit “Rump Shaker”. That same year, he also performed a small rap solo on SWV’s second hit, “Right Here (UK Remix)”. In 1994, Hugo and Williams had established themselves formally as a production duo under the previously used name “The Neptunes“, and produced “Tonight’s The Night” from Blackstreet’s self-titled debut. Over the next three years they continued to produce occasionally. Some of the production had little resemblance to the trademark Neptunes sound present today. However, some like Mase’s 1997 song “Lookin’ At Me” from his album Harlem World, and the most definite beginning of the so-called distinctive “Neptunes sound”, came with N.O.R.E.’s “Superthug” in 1998, reaching number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, and gaining them widespread attention for the first time. In 1999, the duo then worked heavily with Kelis, producing her first album Kaleidoscope in its entirety and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Nigga Please, followed by Mystikal’s hit single, “Shake Ya Ass”.

In 2001, The Neptunes produced Britney Spears’ single, “I’m a Slave 4 U” gaining their first worldwide number one. The same year, N.E.R.D, consisting of Williams, Hugo and Haley, released their first album, In Search Of…, in Europe, where the first Kelis album was better received. The album sounded very much like their previous production work; the group decided that they should make their work as N.E.R.D sound different, and re-recorded the album, with the rock band Spymob. Williams and Hugo met rap duo Clipse in Virginia Beach in 1993, where they were signed to Arista Records through Williams’ Star Trak Entertainment imprint.

Then in 2002 their re-produced album was released worldwide, and The Neptunes reached number one in the U.S. with Nelly’s single, “Hot in Herre”. In August of the same year, The Neptunes were named “Producers of the Year” at both The Source Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. Clipse released their commercial debut album, Lord Willin’ in August 2002. The album opened at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number four on the Billboard 200, fueled by the strength of its first two singles, “Grindin'” and “When the Last Time”, which peaked at number 34 and number 19 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100.

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The Neptunes released a self-credited album called The Neptunes Present … Clones in 2003, featuring songs and remixes from various artists. This album topped the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart. The Neptunes and Williams specifically were also kept in public eye largely due to ties with Jay-Z, producing several hit singles for him and landing two tracks on his album The Black Album. The track “Frontin'” was a big hit (the 34th biggest single of 2003 according to Billboard magazine). A survey in August 2003 found The Neptunes produced almost 20 percent of songs played on British radio at the time, a survey in the US had them at 43 percent. The same year, The Neptunes remixed the Daft Punk song Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger for the duo’s poorly-received remix album Daft Club. The track also featured a brief rap section performed by Williams.

N.E.R. D’s second funk rock-oriented album, Fly or Die, released in March 2004. Williams’ rock credentials were further bolstered by his appearance at the 2004 Grammy Awards, performing The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” on drums along with Sting, Dave Matthews, and Vince Gill. Williams went home with two Grammy Awards that night, one for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, and another for Best Pop Vocal Album for his work on Justin Timberlake’s hit album Justified. They also gained their first UK number one, again with Nelly, and Flap Your Wings.

On September 9, 2005, Williams performed the opening single from his debut solo album In My Mind, “Can I Have It Like That”, featuring Gwen Stefani. The single did poorly in the US, reaching only number 48. It fared better in the UK, reaching number three. Between then and the July 25, 2006 release of “In My Mind”, he released “Angel” (in Europe only), and later “Number One” with Kanye West. Several songs leaked to the internet before the album release, most notably “Mamacita” featuring Daddy Yankee, which was subsequently cut from the final version. “That Girl” featuring Snoop Dogg was the final single.

In 2006, Williams, along with Chad Hugo, produced Clipse’s second album Hell Hath No Fury. Most critics labeled the album to be Williams’s best production in years, and put the Virginia rap duo back in the charts. On May 16, 2007, for seven days only, the first of two expected collaborations with Madonna, entitled “Hey You”, was made available for free download from the MSN website. MSN, in conjunction with Madonna, donated 25 cents for each of the first one million downloads to the Alliance for Climate Protection, in support of Live Earth. Later that year, Williams performed songs at the Concert for Diana on July 1, 2007. Then, on July 7, 2007, he performed at the Brazilian leg of Live Earth in Rio de Janeiro.

A second album, entitled Out of My Mind, was recorded with his newly formed band “The Yessirs” featuring Questlove of The Roots. However, Williams’ record label did not think that a companion album to the first would sell well. He also produced Beyoncé’s rendition of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”. He then wrote and produced “Why Should I Be Sad” on Britney Spears’ fifth studio album, Blackout. He also produced two songs from The Hives album, The Black and White Album, titled “Well All Right!” and “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.”.

In April 2008, Madonna released her eleventh album, Hard Candy, which featured vocals from Williams and production from The Neptunes on several tracks. Later in June, an article in NME revealed that Williams is very interested in producing The Strokes’ fourth album. Williams, along with other musicians, is to work on a remix album for Maroon 5’s Call & Response.

 

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Pharrell worked with Colombian artist Shakira on the songs ‘Did It Again’, ‘Why Wait’, ‘Good Stuff’ and ‘Long Time’ for her sixth studio album, She Wolf. The album was released in October 2009. It has been revealed that Williams will collaborate with Lindsay Lohan on her upcoming third studio album Spirit in the Dark. He will also provide guest vocals on the album’s first single, “Playground”. In September 2009, it was announced that Williams co-wrote and produced a song titled “Fresh Out The Oven” for Jennifer Lopez. The song was released as a buzz single from Lopez’s upcoming seventh studio album Love?, which is due for release in the Summer of 2010. In October 2009, it was announced that he would make a guest appearance on French indie/electronic rapper Uffie’s debut album, due out in early 2010.

He has also worked with rapper Snoop Dogg and singer Brandy on the song “Special” in Snoop Dogg’s album Malice ‘n’ Wonderland Pharrell has been featured on an unofficial remix/mash-up of “Arab Money” featuring Busta Rhymes. Pharrell and Kid Cudi collaborated on an untitled song for Kid Cudi’s second studio album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Cudi described the song as a “club hit”. In late 2009, Pharrell also started working with the multi-Platinum recording artist “Game” (previously known as The Game) for his fourth studio album known as “The R.E.D. Album”. In July 2010, Pharrell Williams composed one of the soundtracks in the movie Despicable Me at the Hollywood Studio Symphony. He will be featured on Gucci Mane’s sophomore album “The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted \* on a track called Haterade alongside “Nicki Minaj”. He will also be featured on Swizz Beatz upcoming album “Haute Living”.

 

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