Before Pharrell Williams took over the airwaves with hits like "Happy," "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky," he had a successful career behind the scenes as a writer and producer, working with artists such as Jay-Z, Britney Spears and Madonna. Now, the Grammy winner is a household name in his own right, which he admits is a dream he had given up on more than a decade ago.
"That kept getting rained on," he tells Oprah during an interview on "Oprah Prime." "I had accepted that I was going to be a writer and producer and I was happy to be the guy standing next to the guy."
Then, in 2006, Williams got his chance to be front and center, releasing his first solo album, "In My Mind." Despite it debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, Williams looks back on that music with a critical self-awareness.
"When I was given the opportunity to make a solo album the first time, there was more braggadocio in it than there was purpose and intention," Williams says. "I beat myself up about that because I was like, 'Here you are, being given a platform and all you want to do is brag.'"
At that time, other successful artists such as Jay-Z and Puff Daddy had inspired Williams with lyrics about private jets, women and riches. "Jay and Puff were like my peers and I wanted to be like them," Williams says. "I misinterpreted what Jay was doing... He was serving his purpose, but... the only thing I was paying attention to was the pixie dust and the magic trick, and not the purpose."
"You were looking at the external. You weren't looking at the internal that actually caused the external," Oprah says.
"One hundred percent," Williams agrees. "It was the aesthetic and not the vertebrae of what he was doing."