Pharrell and his group The Neptunes have written and produced some of the biggest songs of our time. They’ve put their stamp on everything from Britney Spears’ song “I’m a Slave 4 U” to Snoop Dogg’s single “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”
However, one of Pharrell’s biggest hits was originally written for Prince, but the iconic singer/songwriter turned it down.
This is how Pharrell became famous
In the early ’90s, long before he made any records, Pharrell was in a band with Hugo, Timbaland, and Magoo. They called themselves Surrounded By Idiots. However, things did not pan out for the group, and they broke up before they ever made any records together.
Later, Pharrell formed the group The Neptunes with his friends Shay Haley and Mike Etheridge. The group was discovered by Teddy Riley at their high school talent show. Pharrell wrote Riley’s verse on Wreckx-N-Effect’s 1992 hit “Rump Shaker” and from there the group took off.
The Virginia Beach born star and his group have produced everything from Mystikal’s single “Shake Ya A**” (2000), Jay-Z’s single “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” (2000), and Nelly’s single “Hot in Herre” (2002).
‘Frontin’ was Pharrell’s debut solo single
Written and produced by The Neptunes, Pharrell insisted when “Frontin'” debuted as his first solo single that it was a one-time thing. At the time he was just a producer who had no interest in a solo act. One of the best selling songs of 2003, “Frontin'” peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Not only did Pharrell have rapper Jay-Z on the track with him, but he used influences of The Beatles’ 1965 track “In my life” and bass by Stevie Wonder in the bridge. The music video for the song also became extremely notable, as it introduced a then 18-year-old Lauren London to the spotlight. The actor would go on to star in ATL, This Christmas, and a slew of other movies and TV shows.
However, as popular as the song was when Pharrell originally wrote it, he had someone else in mind to bring it to life.
Pharrell originally wrote ‘Frontin’ for Prince
Like most artists, one of Pharrell’s aspirations had been to work with the late legendary Prince. Though he knew Prince and the men shared a mutual respect for one another, the iconic singer turned Pharrell down when he asked him to do “Frontin’. Pharell said in an interview with Revolt TV,
Prince was so cool, I tried for years to make records for him. My first attempt at making a record for him was ‘Frontin’. He didn’t want it. He heard… I think he heard the melodies. And again, it’s been so long, he might have heard the hook and maybe the verses or whatever. I think I wrote a different version for him and he wasn’t into it. That was me pretending to be him. It was what I thought would’ve been good for him at that time. But he was like ‘nah.’ But we did do, either before that or after that we did this remix of ‘The Greatest Story That’s Ever Been Told.’ I think that might have been before. Then I tried to make ‘Frontin’ for him and he was just like… I don’t even know if we heard back, the answer was just ‘No.'”