For the past year it has been impossible to escape the unshakeable beats and ageless looks of Pharrell Williams. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”—both insatiable hits crafted by Williams—positioned him as one of last year’s leading hitmakers (he became the 12th person in the history of Billboard’s charts to simultaneously hold the top two spots). And how can we forget the most talked about moment at this year’s Grammy Awards: Williams in his now-infamous Vivienne Westwood hat.
At 41—we can’t believe it either—the hitmaker has amassed some of the best credentials in the business. Beginning with Blackstreet in 1994 (he helped produce “Tonight’s the Night” on their self-titled album), Williams has written or produced for some of the biggest names in music: Britney Spears, Nelly, Jay Z, Kanye West, Shakira, Snoop Dog, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, and Beyoncé, just to name a few.
Yet it wasn’t until the past year that he really became one of the most recognizable talents in international pop culture. But why? In a search for answers, we discovered just how much the artist has contributed to music, art, and fashion in his prolific 22-year career.