Pharrell Williams found time to record his debut solo LP, In My Mind, over the last six months only by sneaking in time for himself while working on other artists’ projects.
“I was working on Gwen [Stefani's] album at the time,” he said last week of how he secured Gwen for the hook on his single “Can I Have It Like That” (see “Gwen Cheats On Gavin To Make Family-Affair LP With Pharrell” ). “When I’m in the studio working on different people’s sessions, in between sessions and before they get there, I work on tracks. That’s how I do my sh–. I was working on songs and it was in the middle of a Gwen session. We were working on a song called ‘Breaking Up’ and she was in the booth. I was like, ‘I have this song that I think is probably going to be my first single.’ She was like, ‘Yeah? I wanna hear it.’ I was like, ‘I want you to be on it.’ ”
Pharrell wanted to continue recording Stefani’s single, but she insisted that they work on his new song right then and there.
“It’s absolutely bitter,” Pharrell said of the finished product. “Because when I wanted to get in the game they was like, ‘You dress funny.’ I kind of rub it in the faces of the naysayers.”
In addition to Stefani, In My Mind features appearances by Daddy Yankee, Slim Thug, Jay-Z and Pusha T of the Clipse. Williams says people are going to be surprised by the LP because he lets the listener get beneath his surface of gaudy gold chains, diamonds and girls. But he didn’t abandon his bread-and-butter topics completely.
“The one with Slim Thug is called ‘Keep It Playa,’ ” he said. “It’s a playa record. The one with Jay is called ‘Young Girl,’ which is about how most guys just date girls that are younger and we never really talk about it. I was talking about some of the things that come up, some of the issues you go through.
” ‘Mamacita’ is a fly mami walking past, and the specific moment when she’s walking past,” he added of another track. ” ‘Baby’ is an R&B record about the moment when you see somebody across the club and all you can do is stare at each other. … You know you ain’t gonna make it [over to her].”
Half of In My Mind features Pharrell rapping, the other half is him singing. A video for the next single, “Angel,” has already been shot by director Hype Williams.
” ‘Angel’ is part of the R&B portion of the album,” Williams noted. “The hip-hop is kinda like an introspective take, life as I see it. ‘Angel’ is more like the vulnerable, love side of the album. I wrote that to celebrate the gorgeousness of girls and women.”
In My Mind is due out December 13.