Pharrell has given up trying to compete with Jay Z.
The 40-year-old star has released his second solo album, G I R L, following a 20-year run as one of pop music’s most successful producers.
But in an interview with UK newspaper The Guardian, Pharrell reveals he didn’t feel at ease with himself as an artist until very recently, and spent his early days trying to compete with the rappers he idolised.
"[I was] this competitive guy in the music industry, who admired my peers and felt he needed to compete with the races that they designed. But in life you're meant to race against yourself,” he said.
“Jay was never going to race with any of us. That was just my delusion. Because his career runs laps round people. And he runs laps round people, lyrically. He's a philosopher and a poet," he explained.
Pharrell spoke at length about his first solo album, in My Mind, released in 2006.
Of all the albums he’s worked on, the star said it’s actually his least favourite because he hadn’t found himself yet.
"I didn't know who I was. I thought I knew who I was,” he said.
"It was in my mind, but not in my heart. It was this caricature that I'd built in my mind, that fitted in with what Snoop and Jay were doing. Some of the things I said on that record, all the bragging, it's not necessary. It doesn't say anything about you, apart from how shallow you are."
Pharrell’s latest single, Happy, now has fans around the world moving their feet. It seems the Grammy-winner has finally found his groove.
"I always want to put something medicinal into my music. To always have some nutrients,” he said.
“Your own offering to the world should be a signature of who you are and what you're up to, and I just hadn't figured that out. The difference is, now I realise there's something so much bigger than me. My music is so much bigger than me, and what I am."