Artist: PharrellTitle: In My MindRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes
It's a music maker's album and a fan album. It's not a huge 10 million sales thing." Pharrell Williams' rapping alias Skate Board P is absolutely right. In My Mind (Star Trak/Interscope), Pharrell's first solo effort is about artistic interpretation. It's Pharrell's sole vision regarding strife, fame, women, inspiration and God. The enchantment of the album is Pharrell's willingness to invite a curious audience into the introverted world of the stylish hit-making star. It's an intimate, self produced, eclectic 15-track experience.
Pharrell, the stylized singer is the sexy personality of the album while Skate Board P is a B-boy all grown up. Skate Board P boasts of a rapper's delight, a lifestyle romanticized about by young men everywhere, including a once struggling, Virginia bred, Pharrell Williams. "Best Friend" finally introduces a vulnerable Pharrell demanding himself to, "Let it out P"-he does. "My best friend says I'm bottled up/I need a f*ckin' therapist/But I can't think of nobody I wanna share this wit'." Skate Board P continues to regurgitate wisdom, on the jazz inspired "You Can Do It Too". The divulgate song speaks to hardships, and alternatives. Pharrell's salvation was support from his grandmother, meeting childhood friend and Neptunes collaborator Chad Hugo and playing the drums. Pharrell's sincere reverence for the positive influence of music is the underpinning of In My Mind.
Remiss as a singer, Pharrell's shaky voice, sometimes "suggestive" of legends like Charlie Wilson or Curtis Mayfield, ironically works with his music. In 2005, Pharrell teased his hungry fans with two singles from "In My Mind", Angel a falsetto R&B groove and the gritty "Can I Have It Like That" featuring fashion maven Gwen Stephani. The album features more industry juggernauts. The third single, the lukewarm "Number 1" prominently features Kanye West. Other guest in clued Jay-Z ("Young Girl"), Snoop Dogg, Clipses Pusha T and Star Traks, Slim Thug lends his pimp(ology) to the braggadocios "Keep It Playa". Nelly and Pharrell experiment with the Prince(esc) "Baby" that ladies will dig, while fellas will scoff.
Can he sing? Can he rap? Can he carry a solo album? Pharrell is no Anthony Hamilton or Nas. Pharrell is a musician, an adventurous entertainer integral to his individualism. He has prevailed by crafting sultry percussion based R&B and Hip-Hop tracks, in midst of speculation and nay-sayers. In My Mind is Pharrell's unswerving celebration to alternative creativity.