Pharrell, who had this week’s #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Happy,” says he’s found joy with his most recent project G I R L, but adds that he wasn’t as happy with his 2006 album, In My Mind.
“I wrote those songs out of ego,” he says in an interview with GQ. “Talking about the money I was making and the by-products of living that lifestyle. What was good about that? What’d you get out of it? There was no purpose. I was so under the wrong impression at that time…I didn’t realize you should have a purpose. I thought you just did it just to do it.”
He says his lyrics on In My Mind, which received a 2.5 out of 5 in its HipHopDX review at the time of its release, also make him wonder what his purpose was with that project. In particular, Pharrell references “How Does It Feel?” off the album.
“That’s the one that goes ‘See me on the TV, the cuties they wanna fuck,'” Pharrell says. “Man, what was I talking about? That wasn’t joy. That was just bragging. I wanted to be like Jay. I wanted to be like Puff. Those are their paths. I got my own path. But I didn’t know what my path was. I knew that I was meant to do something different. I knew that I needed to inject purpose in my music. And I thought that was my path. I didn’t realize that like, from ’08 up until now was like, training. Like, keep putting purpose in everything you do. Don’t worry about it; just put purpose in there.”
After releasing In My Mind, Pharrell says he has learned that “the universe” was speaking to him when the album was received with less commercial success than he anticipated.
“It was the universe saying, ‘Look, you have a voice, you have an opportunity. What are you going to do with this?’” he says before being asked if the universe was telling him that before the album was made. “Yeah,” he continues. “But I couldn’t hear it. The money was too loud. The success was too much. The girls were too beautiful. The jewelry was too shiny. The cars were too fast. The houses were too big. It’s like not knowing how to swim and being thrown in the ocean for the first time. Everything is just too crazy. You’re like, flailing and kicking and whatever, and you know what happens, don’t you? You sink. My spirit sank. I just felt like, ‘Fuck, what am I doing?’”
His disappointment with In My Mind led Pharrell to decide that he was not meant to be a solo artist, he says. Instead, he realized he was unhappy and decided to return to “being the guy next to the guy.”
Pharrell Explains Significance Of G I R L
Still, Columbia reached out recently and tried to persuade him to return to his role as a solo act. “They’re like, ‘Look, we know that you’re not interested in doing another solo album. But we know that you’re going to change your mind. Even if you’re not ready now, we know you’re going to change your mind. And since we know that, we’d like to get ahead of it and change your mind and tell you, “Look, here’s a deal. Go make whatever album you want to make.”‘”
The album he decided to craft is G I R L, an album that is available for streaming now. “I instantly knew that the name of the album was called G I R L, and the reason why is because women and girls, for the most part, have just been so loyal to me and supported me….There is no breathing human being on this planet that did not benefit by a woman saying yes twice. ‘Yes,’ to make you, and, ‘Yes,’ to have you. Point-blank. If women wanted to cripple the economy, all they gotta do is not go to work…Work at work, work at home. Okay? If they wanted to end our species, cripple our species—seriously! Like, women can look out into space at all the stars and go, ‘You know what? I can actually end all the human life on this planet right now. All I gotta do is just say no.’ There’s a huge value placed on that—you know, on something so simple like if all our talk-show hosts late at night all were women, that’s a very different world.”