Pharrell Williams: ‘I’m so f**king clear right now’

Pharrell joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to talk about the return of his bi-weekly Apple Music show OTHERtone, his recent collaboration with Drake, and more.
OTHERtone offers a glimpse into the minds of some of contemporary culture’s most inspiring figures, as they share their insights on life, art, and everything in between.

Pharrell Tells Zane Lowe About His Collaboration With Brent Faiyaz And Drake…
I think as soon as I played the track, he totally got it. His face just lit up. And then we got the University of Frost School of Music, the Dean, Shelly Berg, I got him to replay the strings. It was essentially 30 tracks of strings, live string players, this was amazing. And also want to just give back to that school as well, because they’ve been so good to me. And then he hit me, and told me Drake wanted to get on. And I was like, “All right.” It’s just like salt bae, It’s like just adding them finishing touches. You feel me?

Pharrell Tells Zane Lowe About Being In A Healthy Headspace…

Let me say this, let me say this. Bro, I’m so fu*king clear right now, this is different. I went on vacation, because I hadn’t been on one for two and a half years, it really weighed down on me. I had a cousin who was murdered. And the process wasn’t fair, and it just didn’t feel good the way it was being handled. My great aunt who lived a long life. She’s 94 years old. She passed a couple of days later. So it was like a double whammy. And I was just very heavy. There was just so much going on, but I’m so clear right now. When I came back from vacation, I got to tell you man. When people ask me, usually how you doing? I was, “Oh man, you know what? I’m grateful.” Right? Because that just lets the universe know, no matter what I’m going through, good, bad or indifferent, I get it.

Pharrell Tells Zane Lowe About How He Approaches His Apple Music 1 Show, OTHERtone…
I never approached this from a journalistic point of view, because I’m not a journalist. That’s a particular skill set. Nor am I a DJ, and I’m certainly not a radio personality. So I tried to use the medium in a way that made sense for me, which was to just have conversations with people and use the opportunity as a crash course into different people’s processes and their just mindset of how you think about things. And so for me, the entire time it’s been school, it’s been education. It was literally about me learning, and that’s literally all I’ve ever done as it pertains to the show, which is now a network. I’m so excited about how OTHERtone itself has inspired me and the additional ground that we can cover. I’m very excited to share that with you. Because when you have these conversations, that again were very educational for me. They were crash courses into people’s processes, and crash courses into people’s mindset. But what it also did is, we started to… Every once in a while, we would have conversations where one’s principles and morals would come into not necessarily a question, but would become the surface of a topic. And that’s when you start realising, okay, yes, there are issues. There’s lots of sides to issues besides right or wrong. There’s also talking about it and doing something about it, and that’s where I started to feel like certain things were naturally in my wheelhouse where I feel like I contribute more than just my likeness, but maybe some ingenuity and the mechanics of trying to find a solution for something. And that’s how Black ambition emerged, or how yellow has emerged. Lending my resources, and lending my time, and lending strategies to my big brother Jose Andreas for World Central Kitchen. These are all things that I know that I’m meant to do. So you get to this point in your life where you’re like, “Okay.” You love making the honey. If you’re a bee, you love making the honey. So if you’re a musician, you love making the music. But then you start to realise that you’re not just playing an instrument, you yourself as a vessel, you are an instrument for something greater than you. And then you realise who that audience is, and then you reverse engineer the distance between who your audience is and the music that you make. And the impetus, the reason why you make it. And you realise, “Okay, we need a Black ambition. We need a yellow. I need to serve World Central Kitchen.

Pharrell Tells Zane Lowe About His Relationship With Tyler, The Creator…

Zane: What was beautiful about OTHERtone was that you were spending this time with a younger Tyler, The Creator, and kind of engaging with him in a very real way. And now that relationship subsequently has become clearly a friendship, and a constant collaboration and a mentorship that has seen him grow into, I mean, one of the most exciting artists on the planet. And I can trace that back to OTHERtone. Am I being simplistic? But it feels like OTHERtone played a key role in that.

Pharrell: Well, I think to be fair, Scott introduced me to him before he put out his first record. Before any of them released any music, I was like a full on supporter. And that was Scott who introduced me to him. And so we were friends before he had put out his first actual major release. And he actually did the show because we were friends.

Pharrell Tells Zane Lowe About The Breadth Of The OTHERtone Network…

With OTHERtone you’re getting the head of the bird. With the OTHERtone network and how I’m looking at this you’re getting the body of the bird, including the wings. It’s a much wider wingspan and we’re able to cover much more ground because there are people who can speak to certain subjects and get into certain topics that I’m not the best at. I told you I surround myself with the best of the best. I want my bottom line to look like that. When you guys look at what your experience is and your partnership is with me I want it to be very wide. If you think about it like OTHERtone just the graphic itself, the logo, there’s lots of colours. For much of our tenure it was just pretty much one colour, it was our lens, our range of topics, and our range of guests….

So here’s the thing, they all encompass things that are very dear to my heart and I brought specialists to do it. One show is called The Prescription, and that is with this amazing Bishop who’s incredibly prophetic. But he talks about things from a religious point of view. Then there is this really genius gentleman by the name of Michael Harriet who writes for The Route. He also wrote for Time Magazine, he and I did something together one time. He’s an African American diaspora genius, who knows like the vast history of not only America, but just everything as it pertains to the Black DNA. And he can speak to it in a way that I can’t, but in a way that… This guy created the word Black Twitter, that was him. When he says, “Oh, we like such and such, they’re allowed to come to the cookout,” Those are all his phrases. Or the term “Black as F*ck,” that’s him. He can speak to this in such an incredibly genius way. I want that as a part of my conversation, I want that as a part of my offering. And last but not least, there is a group call Yumi. These women created this… What started as just an elevated cuisine experience for babies. So they would, let’s say a Gerber, where they’re just pureeing carrots or whatever. Whereas they were actually doing more than that. They would actually give you the most nutritional flavours and puree for the babies. But then they would go to some of the best high-end restaurants around the world, and do collaborations with the chefs. So they started there. But what it did is it opened up this whole thing, and the name of their show was called Yumiverse. And what they did, they opened up this whole entire thing that speaks to kids. Why would I want to do that? Well because I have triplets, who’ve just turned four. Our youth and their health is at the top of mind. So for me, I want to hit the ground running with the Avengers, not just… if that makes any sense. So I wanted to talk to you about that.

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