Pharrell, And Why ‘Can’t’ Is Corney

It sounded like good suits and brown skin and red heels on New Year’s Eve in Harlem. It sounded like an afro-punk house party replete with aquamarine twist outs, magenta dreads and skin decorated with tattoos.

It sounded like champagne bottles and rich laughter celebrating the election of a Black president or the birth of a godchild or a new job or a book deal in a crowded brownstone in Paris. Or maybe Washington DC.

But what it looked like was Pharrell Williams, Niles Rodgers and Daft Punk dressed in suits that glittered like diamonds as Rodgers’ translucent guitar emitted the most delicious string of notes you’d ever want to hear.

The first time I heard it, ‘Get Lucky’ sounded like the soundtrack to every good time or high point I could imagine having.

So when I stumbled upon an interview Pharrell had done about his experience collaborating with Daft Punk, I was beyond thrilled. Pharrell stan and aspiring artist that I am, the interview was, for me, an experience almost as moving as the song.

Pharrell describes hearing the finished version of ‘Get Lucky’ like this:

[Get Lucky] just felt like a place where it was forever four in the morning. The music was as alive as the air was, you know, so that the air was something you were gentle and kind and thankful to. It’s like the only thing that really matters is that you’ve met this girl at this party. Getting lucky is not just sleeping with her but meeting someone for the first time and it just clicking.

As a creative, this next part of the interview, captured my attention:

Somewhere outside of the ether that we exist in is a multitude of realms of possibility and alternate directions and I think they (Daft Punk) just went in those libraries and just dusted off those things…It couldn’t have come in a better year. It’s like 2013 where everything is completely different. Things are not in a box in the way that they used to be and if they are, it’s kinda like ‘that’s like the corniest thing ever, like, please don’t talk to me I don’t wanna catch your mentality.’

I couldn’t agree more.

This is an exciting time to be a young artist.

Through new media, I think creatives are more empowered than ever to bypass gatekeepersand create (economic) opportunities that enable them to lead the kind of lives they envision.

For artists, technology can equal freedom.

But then there’s also a kind of weird phenomenon amongst creatives where we train ourselves to believe that the professions we’ve invested time and money preparing for don’t have much economic value.

We tell ourselves (and other artists just starting out) that making art for little to nothing isn’t problematic because art is something you do out of love and not for money.

Applying business acumen to art is sometimes seen as anathema.

Eshewing new media to promote one’s work is believed to be noble.

These schools of thought are all too common among the creative class.

I find it strange that people who dream up new worlds, images and ideas for a living have trouble believing that business isn’t art’s enemy and that artists can achieve financial success. In light of this, Pharrell’s words are like gold to me.

Maybe people like Pharrell and the members of Daft Punk can actualize dope art like ‘Get Lucky’ because they don’t spend much time thinking about people who tell them what they can’t do.

Can’t is contagious after all.

I think Pharrell knows this and I suspect he probably keeps the close-minded at arm’s length. Can’t can be dangerous.

Somebody’s can’t might abort your art, kill your career or stunt your vision if you let it. Apparently Pharrell and the robots don’t have time for stunted visions and neither do I.

Idealism will always be in vogue. Possibility is eternally cool and close-mindedness is so last year.

“Things are not in a box in the way that they used to be and if they are, it’s kinda like ‘that’s like the corniest thing ever, like, please don’t talk to me I don’t wanna catch your mentality.’”

The old school can keep their can’t. Can’t is corney.

I can’t be bothered with it while I’m trying to raise the bar and my cup to the stars. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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