As part of their New Masculinity issue, GQ sat down with the forward-thinking Pharrell for their latest cover story, which released Monday (Oct. 14). The mag's editor-in-chief, Will Welch, explored society's evolving relationship with masculinity with Skateboard P, how some of the public's harsh reaction to "Blurred Lines" changed Pharrell's perspective about Robin Thicke's hit record, and more.
"Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today," he explained. "I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place." Pharrell then brought up the controversy surrounding "Blurred Lines," which had been weighing on him and forced him to pivot mentally.
"Then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior," he said. "My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel. Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter. I cared what they were feeling, too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country."
On the flip side, a song like "Happy" made Pharrell shed tears of joy when seeing the positive impact his music can have on the world when he allows himself to tap into that kind of creative energy, but making music was never the same for him from that point on.
"When I do stuff for other people, that allows me to channel things for them, and so the universe set up the perfect conditions to get me to write a song like that," P continued. "That made me cry. It literally made me cry. Like, I was on the Oprah show for my birthday, and she showed me a video of people around the world singing that song, and that shit fucked me up. Bad. I was never the same. So I don't beat on my chest. I haven't been the same since any of that music."