Hitmaker insists debut album a low-key affair

Jim Cooper/associated press


Pharrell, the über-cool songwriter and producer, recently released his first solo album, In My Mind.

The words low profile and Pharrell rarely find themselves in the same sentence.

The über-cool songwriter and producer, one half of the superduo production team The Neptunes, is arguably the most omnipresent hitmaker on the planet. His slightly off-key falsetto is heard on smashes for artists ranging from Jay-Z to Snoop Dogg to Justin Timberlake, while his sleek visage is prominently featured in their videos.

He’s also fronted his own punk/hip-hop hybrid group, N.E.R.D, has his own Billionaire Boys Club clothing line, his own skater-boy Ice Cream sneaker and was recently named as the face of the luxury goods staple Louis Vuitton.

But the 32-year-old insists that his solo CD debut, In My Mind, is designed to be a low-key affair — despite the presence of such superstars as Kanye West, Gwen Stefani and Jay-Z.

Pharrell explained the contradiction in a recent interview with Associated Press.

AP: This album has a lot of superstar cameos. Did you ever think of just putting out a record without the collaborations?

Pharrell: I got with people who understand what I was trying to do, something small and boutique. Something special that was to the left of everything else. If you think about your favourite artists, you think about their singles, there is always that one song on the album that you love, that’s what I tried to do. I tried to make an album filled with those kind of records that weren’t meant to be singles but are very special to you. You like the way the hook sounds or you just like the beat, not necessarily meant for radio.

AP: How does this project differ from the smashes you’ve written for others?

Pharrell: Just kind of like making records I ordinarily wouldn’t do. I ordinarily wouldn’t make R&B-ish records for myself. I probably wouldn’t make rap records for myself. It’s like putting Steven Spielberg in his own film. For me it is more about the writing, the direction, the production and creating soundscapes for other artists. It’s like a music makers’ album and a fans’ album. It’s not a huge 10 million sales thing. I am not pop. I am not mainstream like that. As an artist I am more underground.

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