Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hitman Is out in the Open Now; after Years Making His Music (and His Fortune) Quietly, Hip-Hop Star Goes Solo

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hitman Is out in the Open Now; after Years Making His Music (and His Fortune) Quietly, Hip-Hop Star Goes Solo

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISTAIR FOSTER

HE FORMS one half of the most in-demand writing and production team in music.

Pharrell Williams and musical partner Chad Hugo, it was revealed in a recent survey, are behind nearly 20 per cent of tracks played on British radio.

And it is estimated that around nine per cent of all money generated by royalties from record sales in the US goes into their pockets.

But outside of the music industry little is known about the man apart from his occasional appearances on the tabloid showbiz pages, which like to report his many conquests, who include Mick Jagger's daughter Jade.

But the world at large is about to find out a great deal more about the writer and singer who, through The Neptunes production duo, has dominated hip hop, and also R&B, for seven years.

Now he is about to release his debut album. In My Mind sees the 32-year-old hoping to transform himself from hitmaker to pop star. The hitman is exposing himself to the mercy of the fame game. Pharrell Williams is coming out into the open.

Williams grew up in Virginia, where he met Hugo at school, and the pair began contributing to the hip-hop label 'Lil Man Records when they were in high school. They established

themselves during the 1990s working with the likes of Total and Ma$e and by 2000 became the most sought-after producers in the business.

The Neptunes are responsible for a string of hits including Hot In Here by Nelly, Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River, Drop It Like It's Hot by Snoop Dogg and the track that became the first ever to achieve more than a million downloads, Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani.

The Neptunes teamed up with their friend, rapper Shay, to form the group N*E*R*D in 2001 - they had two hit albums before announcing their split in March. Pharrell's new solo album, out next month, is divided into two moods: seven tracks of upbeat hip hop and seven of smooth R&B grooves.

The serial womaniser finds it hard not to mention women even when describing his album: "You have the personality with your girl, and you have your macho mannerisms. …

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