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 Timbaland's rocking to a tune only he can hear ...

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 "Let me explain something to America: Money don't make you happy." ...

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 "I guess when you be here [in Virginia], you create your own musical world." ...

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 Some vocalizing candidates for the VA Hip-Hop Hall of Fame ...

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It's the day before Christmas Eve, 2006. Pharrell Williams pulls his black Rolls-Royce Phantom in front of the local Office of Economic Development, where he'll be meeting with director Donald Maxwell.

As Skateboard P pulls up, Maxwell, who's wearing a dress suit and shiny green Bapes sneakers — the same line of kicks that Pharrell helped popularize — is about to welcome him in grandiose fashion. He pops in a CD of Pharrell's solo debut, In My Mind, and presses play. The drum roll and horns of "Can I Have It Like That" come on.

Although flattered, Williams asks for the music to be turned off. "I won't be able to think," he explains.

Today, P is all about business, and he knows that his status as an enormously successful artist and hitmaker only got him in the door. He has to get not only Maxwell, but the entire city council to take him seriously as a philanthropist if his project is going to be approved.

"I just feel like it's like a chain reaction here. Because there's not much for the kids, they resort to crime," Williams tells Maxwell and City Councilman Rob Villanova. "I mean, you've heard it a thousand times over, but it's really true. If you don't know anything else but fast money, then that's what you're going to turn to. When I was growing up, I used to wonder all the time what was the difference — economically — between some of my classmates and me? Like, why they got to wear certain things and their parents drove certain cars and lived in certain areas. I just didn't understand what the difference was — and the difference is education. The more you know, the [better the chance] for you to be successful in life. So my question was, how do we do that?"

Williams has the answer to his question: building a community center in his hometown. Not only does he want the kids to get an education, he wants them to see the world, like he has.

"My life sort of changed when I went overseas with [his and Hugo's old side-project] N.E.R.D., seven, eight years ago," he continued. "I experienced London, and my life totally changed when I went there and to the rest of Europe. My life totally changed when I went to Japan, 'cause I was like, 'They think without limit here.' And I thought, 'Wow, that's amazing in itself. There's no reason in the world why kids from the areas that I am from can't do the same type of things, or that they don't have this type of imagination already.'

Pharrell talks with local officials about his planned youth center
"So there needed to be a little bit more than the place I went to when I was a kid," he continues. "I went to the Old Donation Center for the Gifted and Talented. It was the [youth center] that would hone your talents and sort of help you cultivate them, and send you off and on your way. It was a good first step."

Luckily, he was determined enough find an outlet to apply those talents. As youths, Pharrell and Chad were taken under the wing of super-producer Teddy Riley and worked on several songs (most notably Wreckx-N-Effect's "Rump Shaker") with the New York native, who'd moved to Virginia Beach in the early '90s. Later they branched off into their own situation and started making the rounds, producing for people like Mase, N.O.R.E. and a young New Yorker they'd taken under their wings, Kelis. Interestingly, the Neptunes' small Virginia Beach studio was literally a few feet away from where Timbaland recorded Missy Elliott's first album.

I guess when you be here [in Virginia] you create your own musical world," Timbaland opines. Apart from a few minor details — like the chef who's on call 24/7 and the parking lot with a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley and a tour bus with enough room and amenities for Timbo to use it as a home — not too much has changed about the studio in the last few years. "I remember when we used to work with Pharrell in the other studio next door. While I was working with Missy, he was working on Kelis. I peeked in the door and he was playing 'I hate you so much right now!' [Kelis' first hit, 'Caught Out There'] and I was like, 'That is different!' That's when I was like, Pharrell is going to be all right, because he is a person that can't be under nobody's wing. He's a leader too."

Being at the forefront of the music industry has afforded Williams the luxury of being able to influence his community.

"We're going to build something these kids will look at and be like, 'What's in there?!' "
"I don't have enough money to send every kid overseas, you know, to see everything," he says to Maxwell and Villanova. The three have moved their meeting to an empty stretch of land where Williams' dream center could be built. Skateboard is adamant that the center be located in close proximity to at-risk kids, and this proposed site is within a two-mile radius of two junior high schools and four high schools. "So what we should do is bring the world to these kids — and the best way to do that is with the resource center. Teach these kids how to surf the 'net and learn how to find out about anything you want to find out. You're 5, 6 years old, you should have the know-how to search the Web and get results instantly.

"We're going to build a facility that's far more attractive than anything else they can look at here," he continues. "No disrespect to Virginia, but we're going to build something these kids will look at and marvel, and be like, 'Oh my God! What's in there?!' "

"Well Pharrell, this is exactly what we want for Virginia Beach, man," Councilman Villanova says to Williams after the entertainer lays out the initiatives he has for the center, one by one. "We're excited about it. Anything we can do to partner up with you."

"This is, it's a dream come true for me because I didn't have this when I was a kid," Williams replies. "These kids, with this opportunity are able to do far more than I ever did, me and Chad. It's going to be amazing."

NEXT: You know all about Virginia's superstar producers — now, check out some vocalizing candidates for the VA Hip-Hop Hall of Fame ...
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Photo: MTV News

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