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Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams , (born April 5, 1973, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.), American musician who was involved in a number of pop hits as part of the producing team Neptunes, as a songwriter, and as a solo performer.

Williams was a percussionist in his school band when he was a child, and he found a kindred spirit in saxophonist Chad Hugo. Williams and Hugo devoted themselves to music and beat production and in high school began calling themselves the Neptunes. A scout for music producer Teddy Riley, who had recently opened a recording studio near the high school that Williams attended, heard the Neptunes perform at a school talent show and brought them to Riley’s attention. In 1992 Williams wrote a verse for hip-hop group Wreckx-n-Effect’s most-popular single, “Rump Shaker,” and the Neptunes produced the track “Tonight’s the Night” on the eponymous debut album (1994) of Riley’s vocal group Blackstreet.

The Neptunes were soon in demand as hip-hop producers and writers, with a signature style that mixed influences from soul, rock, and other musical genres. Neptunes-produced hits include Noreaga’s “Superthug” (1998), Mary J. Blige’s “Steal Away” (2001), Britney Spears’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” (2001), Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” (2002), Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” (2003), Kelis’s “Milkshake” (2003), and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It like It’s Hot” (2004). Williams, often assisted by Hugo, penned the lyrics for many of those songs as well. In 2004 Timberlake’s Neptunes-produced album Justified won the Grammy Award for best pop vocal album, and the Neptunes were named producer of the year (nonclassical). The Neptunes were also among the producers contributing to Mariah Carey’s 2005 album The Emancipation of MiMi, which won a Grammy for best contemporary R&B album.

In 2001 Williams and Hugo joined with rap artist Shay to form the band N.E.R.D. The collaboration resulted in four eclectic albums of rhythm and blues, rap, pop, and rock music: In Search of… (2002), Fly or Die (2004), Seeing Sounds (2008), and Nothing (2010).

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