Pharrell Gives NYU Music Students A Lifetime Of Knowledge In 30 Minutes (Video)

As part of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts’ 50th anniversary, Pharrell Williams was named Artist in Residence. The school celebrated by inviting him to speak at length in front of the student body, where he shared tremendous insight into his own vulnerabilities as well as his vision and love for the Native Tongues. As an Artist in Residence, he gets to work directly with the program’s students who benefit immeasurably from his guidance, critique, and knowledge. As part of his honorific duties, he recently sat down with music students at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music located within the framework of Tisch to co-host a masterclass with none other than Bob Power, the legendary producer whose name should sound familiar to A Tribe Called Quest Heads. However, his career stretches far beyond working with Tribe; throughout the course of his career, he has worked not only as producer but also arranger, composer, engineer, for artists including Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, De La Soul, the Roots, and more.

The masterclass was unusual for more reasons than its iconic instructors, as Pharrell had also invited high-school students who are involved with the Future Music Moguls program which functions in conjunction with the Clive Davis Institute. Furthermore, a handful of lucky NYU students were given the opportunity to play their songs for Pharrell, who then offered feedback in an effort to push their creativity to its highest possible level. Before the critiques get under way, Power and Williams speak briefly about the importance of being unique and remaining true to oneself, at which point P shares with the class that “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now if it weren’t for Q-Tip” (3:20). Once all three songs have been listened to, Pharrell is taken aback at the third, and it’s evident he thoroughly enjoyed and was impressed by the student’s work, particularly because of its unique sound.  “It’s like when the Wu-Tang Clan came out. Like, no one could really judge it. Either you liked it or you didn’t, but you couldn’t compare it to anything else, and that is such a special quality. And all of us possess that ability, but you have to be willing to seek. And you have to be willing to be real frank in your music and frank in your choices.” (24:00)

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