Pharrell Williams describes Jay-Z’s recording process as “weird and amazing”
Written by Ken Simmons on December 1, 2021
Pharrell Williams has recorded with a who’s who of music, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and Kanye West, and he’s worked more than anyone else with one of the new members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Jay-Z. They began recording in 1999, and their seemingly endless list of hits includes “Frontin’,” “Excuse Me Miss” and “Change Clothes.”
The 13-time Grammy winner has observed Hova create classic lyrics many times, and he says his recording process is quite unorthodox.
“He’s really a character. He’s an odd guy. When you have a conversation with him, it’s not a regular conversation,” Pharrell explains in a recent episode of the Fader Uncovered Podcast.
The Virginia Beach, Virginia, native used the recording session for their 2000 hit “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” as an example.
“When he writes, he’s just sitting there mumbling to himself — in falsetto, by the way,” Pharell explains. “He goes [in falsetto], ‘Yo, yo, when the Remy’s in the system/ Ain’t no telling will I f*** ’em? Will I diss ’em?/ That’s what they be yellin’/ I’m a pimp by blood.’ And he taps you on the shoulder and takes it back again. He writes in falsetto.”
Pharrell continues, “That’s odd and different and weird and amazing! And makes him a character. I gotta ask him why he does that. I don’t know why he does it. But he’s always done that.”
Pharrell also reveals that “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” was inspired by another hit he wrote and produced, also in 2000 — Mystikal‘s “Shake Ya A**.”
“It just came together, ’cause [Jay-Z] loved ‘Shake Ya A**,'” the “Happy” singer remembers. “He was like, ‘Yo, I need that!’ I was like, ‘Uhhh, OK.'”
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