This past week, after doing my own search for inspiration I received a text from one of my friends and fellow music enthusiast, Daveed Audel (his new album of covers can be found here) linking me to an open letter that Tyler the Creator penned to Pharrell Williams via Instagram.
For a link to the full letter click here
If your a fan of the two artists its been no secret that Tyler has drawn inspiration from Williams not only as he speaks on the influence in interviews, but as we dive into the music finding two artists uniquely different in their own rights - riffing on the same wave lengths. Much like the way Pharrell speaks about his major influence QTip, we can see the literal baton passing as Pharrell begins to hand off the reigns that ruled the radio of the 2000's to a new crop of musicians, producers, entrepreneurs like Tyler.
What I love about this letter is Tyler's deep assessment of Pharrell's sound...
"I still to this day don't think I can make a song better than THAT GIRL and I REALLY LIKE YOU GIRL is easily the best song on the album with your best Timberlake impersonation and Stevie Harmonica" - Tyler the Creator
and the overall declaration of how much Pharrell has influenced him -- not only from music, but in the way he carries himself, the way he dresses, the way thinks. Tyler goes on to say that the same Summer In My Mind was released, he got up the nerve to start up Odd Future and dare to dream that music was a possibility as long as he stuck to it, believed and continued to look to the future.
In the book "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon, the author makes the case that all art is theft and that it our our duty as artists to steal from the ideas that are good in order to form something new and worth producing.
"When you look at the world this way, you stop worrying about whats "good" and whats's "bad" - there's only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that's not worth stealing" - Austin Kleon
Kleon makes the claim that NOTHING IS ORIGINAL even citing sources as great as the Bible, stating...
"There is nothing new under the sun" - Eccelsiates 1:9)
Many of my lectures revolve around this same concept letting students know it is our responsibility to know the work of artists who we love and examine the ideas and interests that they express so that we do not offer up a copy of the original when producing our works, but rather create a "remix" combined with our own thoughts and perspective.
Pharrell is definitely an artist worth stealing from and I cannot deny the influence of his music whether it be his production, rock band NERD, or solo works, Pharrell has shown me time and time again that being an African American male doesn't mean that you need to be put into a box and provided the mindset shift it took to dare to leave the box.
Thank you Tyler the Creator, Pharrell, and Daveed for being the inspiration I need to keep remembering what can come from the dedication when you choose to follow that voice in your head.