Dapper Virginia-bred producer and singer, Pharrell Williams, gives effortless style and interesting soundbites in GQ Magazine’s April issue. The 40-year-old ‘Happy’ artist chats politics, G I R L, his recent OSCARs snub and more. Check out a few of our favorite parts below.
You were nominated for an Oscar that night, but didn’t win. How badly did you want it?
How do you let go of that competitiveness?
Because I think it’s so much more interesting to go inward, to experience the outer space that was built for you.
Do you regret the trucker hat?
No. Uh-uh. I always did the same thing. I’ve dressed like I make my music. “No one’s doing that: I’m gonna go do that.” With the trucker hat, it was just a different time. And it was just N.E.R.D. time for me, you know? And that’s what we represented—like, the anti-media image. We represented the real: black kids that skated.
The last time I saw you was the week before the Grammys, and you were wearing the original buffalo hat, and it didn’t seem so outrageous. Then you wear it on the Grammy red carpet, and it becomes this enormous thing. Was that surprising to you?
Totally. It’s not my doing. A, I didn’t create the hat. B, I didn’t produce the Grammys show, and C, I’m not the one purchasing the hat. None of it’s my doing.
The Arby’s jokes or the park ranger jokes or whatever—are they funny to you?
They said the same things to me fifteen years ago about trucker hats. Remember: trucker hats at a moment in time when people were wearing throwback jerseys. I was aware of it.
Kanye West has spent so much time in the last two years talking about how frustrating it was to go into the corporate world, only to find all those doors were closed to him. What’s been your experience with that?
I’ve been lucky enough to be received with open arms. And I think Kanye has too, to a certain extent, and he’ll tell you that. I think he was just voicing his opinions of, like, the cons of his experiences. And he’s since then tried and been making a very serious effort to show people his appreciation. So it’s different.
But he’s been like, “They want me to work for them. They don’t want to work with me. They won’t give me the keys.”
Yeah, right. That might be true, to a certain degree. But, at the same time, I think that he’s worked really hard to sort of speak of the pros of his experience as well.
There were people who criticized you for not including more black women on the cover of G I R L. How did you feel about that?
Do you want me to be honest with you?
It’s insecurity. If you love who you are—and I’m not saying that there’s not a plight out there for people who have different skin colors, because Mexicans go through just as much discrimination, if not more discrimination, than black people do in this country. Right? That’s why I wrote “Marilyn Monroe,” man: That which makes you different is what makes you special. You don’t gotta be waif, white, and thin to be beautiful. You can be anything that you want to be, and what I chose to do is put my friends on the cover. The girl that was closest next to me is black, but they didn’t know that, so they jumped the gun. And it wasn’t all black women. There were a lot of black women that were really angry at some of those girls, but some of those girls are the ones that instantly get mad when they don’t see somebody that’s dark. And it’s like: “Yo, you don’t need nobody to represent you. You represent you. You represent the best version of who you could be. You go out there and change the world.” Because I’m black, and I wouldn’t trade my skin color for nothing. But I don’t need to keep wearing a badge that tells you that I’m black every time I do something! I’m black! In fact, the media will tell you I’m the first black person that’s had a number-one record in America in a year since Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in 2012—the first black person! The media tells you that.
But we didn’t have a black president ten years ago.
No. And by the way: We’re about to have a female president. Hillary’s gonna win.
You think so?
Let me tell you why Hillary’s going to win. Everywhere you go in this country, you have red and blue. You got the Democrats; you got the Republicans. You got the Bloods; you got the Crips. Everything is red and blue in this country. You know what else is red and blue? Blood. Blood is blue in your body until air hits it, and then it turns red. That means there’s unity. There’s gonna be unity. So when you think about a night where there’s late-night talk-show hosts and it’s mostly women, that’s a different world.
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