Upon releasing a full album stream and the cover art to his upcoming album, G I R L, Virginia singer/producer Pharrell Williams was met with a great deal of backlash on social media due to the cover art for G I R L, which features Pharrell standing beside three women clad in white bathrobes.
Those expressing their distaste with the cover art to G I R L have cited the fact that the cover does not include any women of color. In response to the cover art backlash, Pharrell expressed his disappointment before revealing that one of the women featured on the cover is in fact African-American.
“You know what really disappointed me is that, man, they jumped the gun,” Pharrell said while speaking with Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. “Because the one I’m standing the closest to is black. She’s a black girl from like Wisconsin that I used to date like over ten years ago, or twelve years ago. And it’s just that that just must suck for people to just look at something and to assume that they know what’s going on. And if they just bothered to listen to my album, they would know that my album was an ode to women, period. And the one thing that I’m trying to kill…The one thing I was just trying to help and aid in changing is this crazy statuesque standard of you gotta be white, waif and thin for you to be beautiful.”
Among those who voiced their opinion on Pharrell’s G I R L cover art via Twitter were journalist dream hampton and Jamilah Lemieux, senior editor for Ebony magazine.
I’m sure Pharrell’s album is great, he’s been making the best music of his life. Cover was disappointing. Google Chokwe Lumumba.
— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) February 26, 2014
Pharrell later revealed that his next single, a record titled “Marilyn Monroe,” takes note of the fact that he respects women of all colors, sizes, sexual orientation, etc.
“My next record is called ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and the chorus is, ‘Not even Marilyn Monroe [or] Cleopatra please. Not even Joan of Arc, that don’t mean nothing to me. I just want a different girl,’” he said. “So, that means no matter what color you are, what size you are, what you’re into, your sexual orientation, I respect you as a woman because I know without you none of us would be here. But unfortunately they looked at the cover…I understand that plight. You know, my dad is a dark-skinned man. I understand that. I know what that is all day long. Have I lived it specifically? Yeah, I’m a black man.”
In a recent interview with GQ, Pharrell again spoke on his respect for women while discussing the title of his upcoming album.
“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,” he said.
G I R L is currently scheduled for released on March 3.