Recently, while covering the 2013 BET Awards Experience weekend, I had the privilege of sitting in on a live exclusive interview with Pharrell Williams himself. It goes without saying that the wisdom he shared with the audience that night was equal parts extensive, varied, crucial, and insightful. Now let’s take a second to step back and reflect some on not just Pharrell the name, but also Pharrell the person – who he is, what he embodies, and what he’s known for. If one were to answer that question by listing off his accolades, it’d be a veritable laundry list. However, the way I’d answer that is to simply refer anyone to how he presents himself and his work, and what his interests are. The man is a vessel of pure creativity and unending curiosity. Now, knowing that, what I’ve always wanted to find out was just what exactly it is that inspires him. What drives the mechanism and gets the gears and cogs working in Pharrell’s mind to come up with results that have manifested into stylish, trend-setting clothing and music that always manages to differentiate itself from the rest of the scene? His answer to that ranged from the early influences of his parents, to the dynamic of the artist and the environment within any particular studio session, to what he said was his biggest motivator and inspiration – women. Which got me to thinking, as a fan of and an enthusiastic participant in all things creative, do I share similar inspirations with Pharrell?
Now when Pharrell said that girls were his favorite inspiration, I found myself smiling approvingly and nodding along in agreement. Because really fellas, when have we not done something for the simple fact of trying to impress, make happy, or provide any sort of enjoyment for a female that we’re diggin’? Just think about all the crazy things men have done, in most cases stepping out of their comfort zones, all for the love of a girl. The possibilities are endless and the notable results throughout the years have brought about some of the greatest successes.
That notion suddenly brought me back to the 6th grade when I had a huge crush on this one girl, Lindsey. Shorty was a 10 in my eyes back then. The only girl that made wearing braces look fly. Her school supply game was on point too – color coordinated Lisa Frank everything. What a keeper. As was the norm for 6th graders in those days, you won the heart of the girl by either A.) having your friends and her friends set you guys up and make cutesy giggly noises as you both suddenly find yourself sitting awkwardly next to each other, by yourselves mind you, at a lunch table during recess or B.) passing love notes to each other with said friends acting as the eager little messenger pigeons. Swag was not so real back then and the concept of cuffing season was lost on the minds of ones more worried about finishing their homework in time for the latest episode of Bobby’s World. So for the most part, kids would get with each other for the mere fact that one circled “yes” in the infamous “Do you like me?” note. But you know what, I wasn’t about to be on that. I wanted to impress Lindsey. I wanted to do things differently. Always have, always will. I wanted to take the ho hum grade school love letter and take it to the next level. And how did I do that? Poetry. This wasn’t no ‘roses are red, violets are blue’ basic-ness. Nah man. I’m talkin’ ’bout
copying giving the “Reach” treatment to some Earth, Wind, & Fire lyrics. Yeah man. Even back then this little 10 year old knew that there was levels to this. In effect, (besides the fact that the love note was successful) I ended up liking the way I could have my way with words and hold a certain type of control over them to convey any idea or notion in a way that was uniquely me. Little Reach, meet the writing bug. Writing bug, you left some gnarly bite marks on Reach. And the rest pretty much brings us to now. Whether it be through poetry, spoken word, short stories, or the very articles that I’ve been so fortunate enough to have been seen by you, the readers of The 5th, I truly know that I love to write.
Yup, did it for a girl.
Now this isn’t to say that girls are my only source of inspiration. Never that. I’m inspired by anything and everything that I experience. Life in all of its glory is what keeps these fingers tapping away to turn keystrokes into the vessel that translates my mind’s vivacity. And though women should be celebrated and highlighted in any way possible, the point that I’m trying to get at is this:
Find your inspiration – that original motivating factor that sparked something specific that you love to do. Identify it, immerse yourself in it, and let that take you to wherever it is it’s leading you to. More often than not it’ll take you past the zip code of your comfort zone and soon enough you’ll find yourself in a spot that harbors a crucial well of creativity that you may have not identified within you before. Once you do so, respect that inspiration. Because you’ll find yourself counting on it throughout all kinds of scenarios waiting for you in the future.
I mean, why else do you think I take such good care of all my Earth, Wind, & Fire vinyl anyways?