Pharrell Williams Opens ARTST.com, Online Community for Artists
Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/producer Pharrell Williams has made history for being one of the most successful and prolific entertainers to emerge during the last decade and staying true to his roots, he has created ARTST Guild & Gallery, an online community for artists to share their work, their ideas and their passion. The name ARTST comes from Pharrell’s idea that “There is no I because it’s not about me.” “Being in N.E.R.D. you’ll notice that we always send out messages about what kids can do, what they can become, you can wait for the stars to align for you or you can reach up into the sky and align the stars. We created this network to give people an opportunity to get the visibility they deserve, to reach into the sky.” says Williams. Members can upload and showcase anything creative: music, architecture, painting, or even fashion, and then comment on the work of others and collaborate with each other. More than just a gallery, it's a guild for those who create art.
ABOUT PHARRELL WILLIAMS:
Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/producer Pharrell Williams has made history for being one of the most successful and prolific entertainers to emerge during the last decade. As part of the beat-making duo The Neptunes with Chad Hugo and the alternative rock trio N.E.R.D. with Chad and childhood friend Shae Thornton, Pharrell has helped A-List pop stars sell millions of albums and even earn Grammy Awards for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Nelly, and Usher.
There has always been a passionate connection between Pharrell and his music. When he was seven years old his family left the inner city for the suburban side of Virginia Beach, peaking his music tastes. “We lived across the street from a biker group called The Renegades, which were like Hell’s Angels,” Pharrell recalls. “They played a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, so they’d be playing ‘Born To Be Wild’ across the street. Meanwhile in my house, my mom and dad are playing Earth, Wind & Fire, but on the radio they playing Rick James and Queen. I never really lost that.”
It was in junior high school band camp that Pharrell linked with Chad and later formed The Neptunes. Their performance in a high school talent show caught the attention of local New Jack Swing producer Teddy Riley, who had made a name for himself for his work on Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel album, as well as songs for his group Guy, Keith Sweat and Al B. Sure. Soon thereafter, Pharrell wrote Teddy Riley’s rap verse for Wrecks-N-Effect’s 1992 double platinum single “Rump Shaker.”
Pharrell and Chad quickly landed work with SWV, and eventually met Sean “Diddy” Combs, who hired them to produce songs for Total and Mase. But it was Noreaga’s “Superthug,” the hottest underground rap track in 1998, that made The Neptunes a household name in the hip-hop community. Since, The Neptunes’ credits have included everyone from Ol’ Dirty Bastard, No Doubt, Janet, Britney Spears, *NSYNC, TLC, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Kelis, Busta Rhymes, Babyface, and Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake. In 2003, they took home the Producer Of The Year, Non-classical Grammy Award.
While producers are typically faceless, behind-the-scenes types, Pharrell has managed to become a star in his own right. In early 2005, Pharrell began working on In My Mind, his long-anticipated solo debut, an album that captures both his hip-hop and R&B personas. Pharrell explains, “The hip-hop songs are more the introspective side of my view and how I look at life, and the R&B stuff is the more vulnerable side.” In My Mind, was released on July 5, 2006 through Pharrell’s Interscope distributed Star Trak Records. In My Mind debuted at #3 and sold 142,000 copies in the first week and has sold 889,25 copies worldwide. It was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2007 Grammy Awards.
Though Chad did not work on In My Mind, he still spent time in the studio with Pharrell, watching him work. Chad says he feels inspired when listening to the album. “We came from a small town which makes you kinda go through a lot,” Chad adds. “Virginia is sorta like this 9 to 5 town that our parents probably didn’t even expect us to take our music this far, and we’ve started out at band camp and we thought that was going to be it after a while. But we took that love and applied it, and I think his message is that you could do it too. And that’s how I feel when I listen to his stuff.”
In addition to these accomplishments, N.E.R.D. has released three critically acclaimed, platinum albums. The groups first album, In Search Of... was released in 2001 and reached number 59 on the Billboard 200; its first single, "Lapdance", reached the top 40 of the US Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart and its second single, "Rock Star" peaked at #36 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in the Unites States. "Lapdance" also went top 40 in the United Kingdom and Netherlands and its music video received heavy airplay on American MTV2. Their second album, Fly or Die, went on sale on March 22, 2004. The album reached the top 10 in the United States, while the first single, "She Wants to Move", has gone top 5 in the United Kingdom, top 20 in Norway, Ireland, and Denmark, and top 40 in Australia and the Netherlands.
The group’s latest album, Seeing Sounds was released on June 10, 2008. The first single off the album, titled "Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)", was first mentioned on their Billionaire Boys Club blog in January 2008. The album's title, as well as its content, revolves around the neurological phenomenon of synesthesia, the mixing of sensory modalities. Seeing Sounds debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, selling 80,000 in its first week. It peaked in the top 20 in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, while also charting in several other countries.
Additionally, Pharrell has scored a number of business ventures. He designed a series of upscale sunglasses and jewelry for Louis Vuitton and was also the face of the brand for 2008. He has launched the Billionaire Boys Club clothing line and Ice Cream shoe collection He’s also created the Ice Cream skateboard team, and collaborated with skateboard icon Tony Hawk to encourage more inner city youth to participate in the X-Game competitions.
Pharrell’s newest ventures include partnering with a company called Bionic Yarn, a 2 year old textile firm based in New York dedicated to developing environmentally sustainable fabrics using recycled plastic bottles. The company has corporate partnerships with companies including Cole Haan, End Star, Billionaire Boys Club, and Ice Cream. In addition to Bionic Yarn, Pharrell has partnered with McG in the new ABC pilot Limelight. Limelight was partly inspired by Pharrell and his formative years at a performing arts school. Limelight will focus on the world of the students and faculty at such a school in New York.
Pharrell is humbled by his accomplishments, and hopes that through his music and other ventures, fans will see his vision. “I’m just trying to bring the ammonia back to radio and to television,” Pharrell says. “When I was a kid, you’d run to the screen to see that rapper and the beat was, ‘Oh my God.’ You’d lose it. I miss that. I appreciate what’s going on right now. I appreciate my opportunity. So with my opportunity I’m going to get in, I’m baseball batting. I want to break the color lines, and that’s the way I grew up.”
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