Pharrell Lanscilo Williams is an American rapper, record producer, singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Alongside close colleague Chad Hugo, he formed the hip hop and R&B production duo The Neptunes in the early 1990s, with whom he has produced songs for various recording artists. In 1999, he became lead vocalist of the band N.E.R.D., which he formed with Hugo and drummer Shay Haley. Williams has been widely referred to as one of the most influential and successful music producers of the 21st century, having had a significant impact on the sound of modern popular music.
Williams released his debut solo album, In My Mind, in 2006. In 2013, he was featured on the song "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke and T.I., and his song "Happy" was the lead single for the soundtrack of the film Despicable Me 2. In the same year, he was featured on Daft Punk's single "Get Lucky", which won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 56th Grammy Awards. His second album, Girl, was released in 2014.
Williams has received numerous accolades and nominations. He has won 13 Grammy Awards, including three for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical (one as a member of the Neptunes). He is also a two-time Academy Award nominee: in 2014 for Best Original Song, for "Happy" (from Despicable Me 2); and in 2017 for Best Picture, as a producer of Hidden Figures.
Pharrell Lanscilo Williams was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on April 5, 1973, the eldest of the three sons of teacher Carolyn and handyman Pharoah Williams. His ancestry goes back many generations in Virginia and North Carolina. One of his ancestors journeyed to West Africa in 1831, prompting other relatives to emigrate from the U.S. to Liberia in 1832. Williams met Chad Hugo in a seventh-grade summer band camp, where Williams played drums and Hugo played tenor saxophone. They attended Princess Anne High School where they were in the school band. Williams graduated from high school in 1991 and he attended Northwestern University for two years before dropping out.
Williams married his longtime partner, model and fashion designer Helen Lasichanh, on October 12, 2013. The couple have four children together: son Rocket (born in 2008) and triplets (born in January 2017). The Despicable Me song "Rocket's Theme" was written in honor of their son Rocket.
In 2005, Williams was voted "Best Dressed Man in the World" by Esquire. He is a fan of the science fiction series Star Trek, as indicated by his consistent use of the Vulcan salute to signify his label name, Star Trak. Williams is a skateboarder and has a half-pipe inside his home. In 2011, Williams announced that he is building a $35 million after-school center in his home town, Virginia Beach. In 2015, Williams bought a house in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. In 2019, Williams offered internships to 144 students at Promise Academy in Harlem, New York City.
On March 26, 2021, Williams' cousin Donovan Lynch was shot and killed by an officer from the Virginia Beach Police Department after "brandishing a handgun" following three shootings in the area. Williams has called for a federal investigation into the incident.