Pharrell has had an irrefutable impact on music as one of the industry’s most influential and prolific artists. But even Skateboard P admits he missed a beat when it comes to his mega-hit “Blurred Lines” (a 2013 collaboration with R&B crooner and T.I. and Robin Thicke). The song drew criticism for its misogynistic lyrics and racy visuals that many felt promoted rape culture.
In the years since, Pharrell has defended the song. But in an interview with GQ’s Masculinity Issue, which came out Monday (Oct. 14), the 46-year-old admits he’s had a change of heart.
“Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today,” he told the publication. “I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place.”
“Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing,” Pharrell explained.
“So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, ‘What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up.' And ‘I know you want it’ — women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it's like, ‘What's rapey about that?’”
Pharrell was quick to point out that masculinity isn’t new but that the conversation around it today is heading in a positive direction that, he hopes, will lead to actual change.
“Women are waking up every day, more and more, to the fact that they have the power. Women, millennials, and the Gen-Zers have the power. And there are a lot of men who recognize their privilege, and they use it for good,” he said. “That excites me.”
Read what else Pharrell had to say about upending gender norms in fashion, his collaboration with Adidas, and more here.
(Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage)