tyler, the creator writes heartfelt essay on how pharrell changed his life
Ten years ago today, Pharrell released his debut solo album ‘In My Mind.’ To mark the occasion, Tyler posted an all-caps, 800-word personal reflection on Facebook about the record's impact on his music, and how Pharrell's individuality inspired him...
By 2006, Pharrell Williams had long since established himself as one of hip-hop's most creative thinkers and out-of-the-box beatsmiths (seminal producer Teddy Reily discovered the young Virginia upstart at his high school talent show in the early 90s). Between his work with The Neptunes and N*E*R*D, Williams' engineering netted number ones like crazy, from Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U," to Snoop Dogg's "Drop it Like It's Hot." But it was 10 years ago today that his debut solo record, In My Mind, cemented his position as a fully fledged artist and icon on his own.
Tyler, The Creator saw this milestone anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on "the album that shaped me." Earlier today, the rapper and designer posted an 800-word caption essay in which he directly addresses Skateboard P.
"I was 15 years old, attending summer school at Hawthorne High, spending most of my nights trying to find any snippets of the album on various German sites. I was what you would call a fanatic, hoarding any and every magazine I could find with the Neptunes or anything having to do with them," Tyler wrote in the essay's opening, adding that he still has VHS tapes he recorded of all the group's TV appearances for three years.
Tyler nerds out on specific favorite sounds and moments on In My Mind while praising the album's dexterous genre blending: "This album ranges in different styles and sounds, and I believe that's why I gravitated to it so much. The fact that you didn't get stuck on one sound and let a 'cohesive' wall block your creativity, might be why I allow my albums to range in styles now that I think about it," he writes.
But more importantly, Tyler reflects on how Pharrell's individuality inspired him to take on the world by being himself. "Being 15, black, not really 'interested' in what the majority of my peers were into, it made me feel some type of way. I was an optimistic kid, always daydreaming and setting goals so I felt you were directly speaking to me. 'I was in marching band, I was a skateboarder' I mean come on!" he writes. "Where I grew up, niggas get stuck and never make it out. Jail, dead, shit jobs, still hanging out at the same spots, not really growing out. It seems to me at least, at a certain age, ideas and original thoughts are no longer a thing. I thank the universe that I got out and didn't fall into that cycle. 10 years later, I am now a man who has found success in many things, running businesses, a young entrepreneur, all because I believed you when you said I could," he wrote to Pharrell.
Read the full essay here and give In My Mind a birthday spin while you're at it.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Brick Stowell