Birthplace: Virginia Beach, VA
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Music Producer, Rapper
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Neptunes
A native of Virginia Beach, Pharrell Williams was the first of three sons born to Pharoah Williams and his wife Carolyn. Having acquired an interest in music at an early age, by his teens Pharrell was attending music improvisation courses and studying the drums; it was during these years that his ambitions found a supportive counterpart in the person of Chad Hugo, who at the time was performing on the saxophone. Outside of their formal music studies, the two frequently met in Hugo's parent's garage to pursue their mutual interest in hip-hop, developing a style that would later earn them a position of considerable power in the music industry.
While the duo were still attending high school, their career had already been given its start thanks to work thrown their way by Lil' Man Records founder Teddy Riley, whose Future Recording Studios happened to be situated right next to their school campus. In 1992 Williams was given the opportunity to work on the track Rump Shaker by Wreckx-n-Effect; two years later Riley brought both Williams and Hugo on board (who by now had formalized their partnership under the name The Neptunes) to write and produce for the self-titled debut release by Blackstreet. During this period, a collaboration with fellow Virginia Beach rap partnership Timbaland and Magoo was also pursued for a while under the name Surrounded By Idiots. As the 90s progressed, The Neptunes slowly established themselves through occasional work for artists such as Total, Mase, Noreaga, and MC Lyte (adding their touches to Lyte's 1998 release Seven and Seven).
By the start of the 2000s The Neptunes had become one of the most widely sought production teams in hip-hop, concocting popular singles for Ol' Dirty Bastard (Got My Money), Mystikal (Shake Ya Ass), Jay-Z (I Wanna Love U), Snoop Dogg (Beautiful), and No Doubt (Hella Good). In addition to his production work, Williams received further public exposure by contributing his vocals to tracks and making an appearance in some of the promotional videos of the artists with which he was collaborating. Not content to merely shape the output of others, Williams and Hugo -- along with rapper and longtime friend Shay -- created the rap/funk outfit N*E*R*D ("No one Ever Really Dies") in 2001. Their first album, In Search Of..., was initially only given a European release; considerable reworking, and the addition of real band performances courtesy of Spymob, would be integrated into the material prior to its U.S. release the following year. In 2003 Williams additionally launched himself as a solo artist with the release of the single Frontin'.
Given their history of results, the demand for The Neptunes' production work inevitably extended into mainstream pop, with major label names like Britney Spears, Usher, Justin Timberlake, and *NSYNC seeking to squeeze off their share of the windfall. The duo's reputation in the rap field did not suffer in the least from this crossover success: LL Cool J (Luv U Better), Nelly (Hot in Herre), and numerous others continued to invade the charts with Neptune-contoured singles. The buffer provided by this status allowed room for their work with N*E*R*D to be more unconventional and less dependent on the frivolous concerns of chart success and fleeting trends. It also provided Williams the clout to branch out into other areas of endeavor, such as staring his own clothing and footwear line in 2004.
Father: Pharaoh Williams (handyman)
Mother: Carolyn Williams (teacher)
High School: Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, VA
Surrounded By Idiots
Clipse Producer 2002
Grammy Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical (2003) (with The Neptunes)
Grammy Best Pop Vocal Album (2003) (with Justin Timberlake)
Endorsement of Hewlett-Packard (2006)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (8-Jul-2011) · Himself
Get Him to the Greek (4-Jun-2010) · Himself
Fade to Black (5-Nov-2004) · Himself
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