In Pharrell Williams’ upcoming book Pharrell: The Places and Spaces I’ve Been, the musician chops it up with Jay-Z about grunge band Nirvana and their impace on pop culture. Skateboard P asks Hov about where he was when he first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” to which he replied that he was in P’s home state of Virginia. He then explained how Nirvana was birthed from the rockers before them.
“First we got to go back to before grunge and why grunge happened,” said Jay. “‘Hair bands’ dominated the airwaves and rock became more about looks than about actual substance and what it stood for—the rebellious spirit of youth….That’s why ‘Teen Spirit’ rang so loud because it was right on point with how everyone felt, you know what I’m saying? It was weird because hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second, ya know? Those ‘hair bands’ were too easy for us to take out; when Kurt Cobain came with that statement it was like, ‘We got to wait awhile.'”
The Roc Nation chief says that he has a difficult time ignoring bands and musicians making noise, and that Kurt Cobain was one of those figures. “I have always been a person who was curious about the music and when those forces come on the scene, they are inescapable,” Jay says. “Can’t take your eyes off them, can’t stop listening to them. [Cobain] was one of those figures. I knew we had to wait for a second before we became that dominant force in music.”