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5 times Pharrell Williams was an environmentalist and a humanitarian

Pharrell Williams is, at heart, an environmentalist and humanitarian, as much as he is a Grammy award-winning artist and super-producer.

He has spent a considerable amount of time mastering the details of both business and the nuances of efficiency in those areas of life. 

Whether he was in his studio creating tunes with Teddy Riley at the height of his career or discussing the stars, planets, and all that orbits within our future with former Astronaut Leland Melvin, Pharrell is always intentional in his craft.

Ludovic du Plessis and Pharrell Williams  CREDIT: COURTESY OF LOUIS XIII
Ludovic du Plessis and Pharrell Williams CREDIT: COURTESY OF LOUIS XIII []

We all know Pharrell can make a beat that we all call dance too. But what has really got our attention is his ability to tie in his love for all things circular and sustainable.

Usually, we see Williams dressed in the latest gear and topped-off with a few layers of diamonds. But on the other side of the flaunt, Pharrell has had a keen sense of care for the planet as early as 2007, where he collaborated on the hit song “Hey You” with Madonna. 

The song was available for download with 25 cents of the first one million downloads to be donated to the Alliance for Climate Protection, in support of Live Earth. Later that year, on July 7, Williams performed at the Brazilian location of the concert series for Live Earth.

From there, Pharrell would embark on the advocacy of saving our planet. Williams and his band N.E.R.D. would join The Gorillaz as they toured their Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour in October 2010.

The Gorillaz album Plastic Beach was conceptualized by co-founder Damon Albarn who was on a beach close to his house one day when he was “looking for plastic within the sand.”

NASA's Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin and recording artist Pharrell Williams joined forces on April 23 in Virginia Beach, Va. to inspire and educate students about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.
Photo Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

In 2020 Albarn doubled down on that sentiment by referencing his reason for a sequel album and stating, “the need to keep reminding people that we need to change our habits.”

Pharrell Williams has always found a way to align himself with the stars. In this case, he has aligned himself with humanity, circularity, and sustainability. Even his biggest tune to date was a remedy to societal angst and titled, “Happy.”

We can only bow down to such greatness and humility, and this is why we are giving Pharrell his seeds to the flowers that he would more than appreciate through growth. The growth reaffirms his belief in maintaining what remains on planet earth.

Dedicated to the youth and future generations

Pharrell Williams, three-time Grammy Award-winning producer from Virginia Beach, Va. reaches out to local students at Williams Farm Park, the site for his first Resource Center, which is supported by his foundation, From One Hand to Another (FOHTA). Credit: NASA/Sean Smith
NASA/Sean Smith

Pharrell Williams founded a non-profit organization called “From One Hand To AnOTHER” (FOHTA) which its name is in part derived from his “I Am OTHER” production company.

Since 2008, FOHTA has believed that every child has great potential to be a success if they have the right tools. Williams has since partnered with NASA‘s Associate Administrator for Education and former Astronaut Leland Melvin to initiate S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs for students.

On the FOHTA website, Williams has asserted, “if every community with under-served youth had a community center that was devoted to augmenting the learning experience needed to succeed and provide exposure to different technologies, arts, and resources, kids could find their own tool – their key to a successful and fulfilling future.”

Investing in better solutions

Reese Halter, RAF Magazine

Pharrell Williams has been fortunate enough to establish his streetwear label, putting his mark on fashion. And in 2010, he solidified his awareness for the environment and the waste issues with plastic and consumerism.

Williams joined BIONIC yarn, a company he initially invested in, as their acting Creative Director and holds that position today.

He joined co-founders Tim Coombs and Tyson Toussant, who launched the plastic recycling and material manufacturing company with the idea “that company can successfully marry purpose and profit.”

Merging fashion with sustainability

Recording Artist and Creative Director of Bionic Yarn Pharrell Williams speaks at an event to announce 'RAW for the Oceans', a long-term collaboration between Bionic Yarn and G-Star turning ocean plastic into Denim, at American Museum of Natural History on February 8, 2014, in New York City.
Mot Mag

After joining forces with BIONIC, Williams conjured a collaboration with his textile manufacturing company with G-Star Raw in 2014. The “Raw for the Oceans” campaign recycled plastic found in the ocean into denim.

This collaboration ultimately fused the denim brand with Williams’ futurist aesthetic. Williams would become co-owner of G-Star Raw in 2016, overseeing all from collections to advertising, branding, and business strategy.

Spreading humanity through fashion

Adidas_Pharrell_Williams_Human Race_NMD
Adidas, Pharrell Williams, Human Race NMD

In 2014, Williams also signed a long-term partnership with Adidas for an NMD “Human Race” collection released on July 23, 2016.

Famously, the “Human Race” collection was a social cause campaign for Pharrell to spread humanity through fashion.

The collab advanced into the Parley division of Adidas, which uses ocean plastic to make parts of the Boost model sneaker line, which first launched in 2015.

Louis XIII Cognac “100 Years”

Climate change became more apparent as we progressed into the second decade of the 21st century.

Pharrell has always been a man of foresight and understood that if the climate were to continue making progress at its current rate, we will eventually destroy the world.

French luxury cognac brand Louis XIII commissioned Williams to help encourage change. So he composed a song that will debut 100 years after its creation. The song’s name?

“100 years.”

In 2017, “100 Years” was produced and recorded on to a one-of-one record made from clay found in the Cognac region in France.

This record sits in a safe designed by the burglary protection company Fichet-Bauche and is indestructible unless submerged in water. As global warming continues, sea levels will rise, and that is the very point of this production.

The Louis XIII safe that will house the Pharrell Williams recording of the song "100 Years" to be opened in 2117 CREDIT: COURTESY OF LOUIS XIII

If the climate stays where it is or even improves, the record will survive. Otherwise, this record will weather beyond repair.

Williams is challenging the world to combat those effects inflicted by the human condition. We should hope that this song can be heard by those who will live to see 2117. 

Look out for this article on PAGE magazine.