The Very Considered Pharrell Williams

Lessons from a soft-spoken superstar.

The Very Considered Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams is a pretty considered dude.


It's easy to miss.

He's above all a showman, famous for: beats, rhymes, skincare, hotels, lapdances, sub-MJ vocals — and a truly ridiculous hat.

But watch a few choice interviews.

See how he handles himself in a masterclass with music students, reflects on the disaster of Blurred Lines with Rick Rubin, or even on a Zoom call with Gwyneth.

Off-stage, his manner is thoughtful. Open. Humble. You can see he's someone who considers a topic deeply.

Listen to the way he runs a studio session with Ariana Grande - he's someone with an appreciation for the value of a moment.

Watching the interviews you realise - he's not just searching for the right words, but the right everything. It's a manner of truly listening - deeply respecting the question by giving it the grace of a thoughtful response.

It makes sense - consider the way he describes the role of a producer: a mirror. Dealing with creative conflict is about taking off the ego hat. It's not a technique, but a fundamental shift in the importance placed on communion with others.

That they have value. It's about them.

It's the opposite of how a culture of Everything Now regularly trains us. Most of us speak first, then listen. We'd dash off a word, a decision, a choice, a tweet in a second. Because there isn't too much time for nuance — it's hard enough just to be heard. And as we move through life as quickly as possible, to hustle, to win, thoughtfulness is a subtlety we don't always have time for.

Pharrell is a perfect example of the necessary gap between the big hat and the calm mind. Between the larger-than-life persona and the private individual.

Because as we sprint through life, we might be bold, but we could also hope to be a little considered.

Like Pharrell Williams.

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image: Variety