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An Open Letter to Pharrell Williams

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PHARRELL WILLIAMS
Noam Galai via Getty Images

Dear Pharrell,

I've loved you since I saw that creepy red dog on the N.E.R.D album and the days when I couldn't stop singing "She Wants to Move" in the shower. To this day, the word "Mister" makes me want to pop my shoulders in an awkwardly rhythmic way.

I have to be honest and say that aside from the time MTV actually played music videos, I never went out of my way to watch them. But you were really ahead of your time with visuals in your videos for N.E.R.D.

Your beats have always entranced me, and your delicate voice has only added to the admiration I have for your inhuman amount of skills.

Your song with Snoop Dogg helped me discover his music, and for that I am eternally grateful and indebted to you.

Even though you're almost twice my age, your vampire-like agelessness has always made me feel like you were speaking to my generation.

It's all these heartwarming memories of adolescent worship and music obsession that I feel qualify me to talk about my deep disappointment.

Yes, this is about "Blurred Lines," but it's also about your new album, GIRL, and what you said about it in one of my favorite magazines.

I've read statements from you saying the lyrics in "Blurred Lines" specifically state the opposite of the misogynistic view people claim it has. You and Robin pick out these lines:

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you / But you're an animal, baby, it's in your nature

You don't need no papers / That man is not your maker

I hear you.

And after listening to the song repeatedly and reading the lyrics until I could see them scrolling into space in my dreams, I've gotta say, you're kind of reaching.

But I also don't think it's an outright call for rape. It's just the same as every other song about wanting to fuck a hot girl.

The way you grab me / Must wanna get nasty / Go ahead, get at me

I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two

Now the video. That's a completely different story.

This is what you said about video to Red Bull Magazine:

Film gives you two different senses. With music, some of it is left to your imagination. With film there's a curated direction by the point of view of the director and the music that's under it. Those two are working in concert to take you to a place that the director has intended.

I get that the "Blurred Lines" video is supposed to be another fun, poppy, trendy song -- and it would be silly to uphold it to real scrutiny. But you seem to place a lot of value on visuals.

After studying the lyrics to "Blurred Lines" and reading countless arguments for and against it, I can see how it's potentially a song about a hot girl, having fun, guys wanting her, and her saying no. Maybe that's what you see, too, because you're so close to the music and production of it. But I don't think I'm wrong to assume most people who just hear it and watch the video see a story about a goat and some strippers.

Now there's nothing wrong with that. I like goats. And who doesn't love beautiful women? I just don't like you trying to pass it off as inoffensive.

In the end, it is still about how women's beauty is what makes them most desirable and why they should sleep with guys who tell them that.

You guest edited for Red Bull Magazine this past month. When I saw the cover in my mailbox I literally ran back to my apartment to read it. I usually read it cover-to-cover, but I went to your interview first.

I didn't know you had a new album coming out, and when I read that I was pretty stoked. When asked about the new album, these are some of the comments you made that really got me.

I think most of the time we hear songs that are written at women versus for.

My thing is let's start doing things with them truly in mind -- truly in mind. That is not writing something at her. That is writing something intended for her.

I just want to make music that ladies, the girls, listen to and they feel an escapism. That is my intention.

I've never heard anyone say that, and the fact that your first album in eight years was going to be focused on this made me so excited.

Obviously, I immediately pulled up Spotify and started to listen.

I don't want to sit here and pretend I know what you're thinking and what your songs mean. All I know is what you said in that interview. I know you're a husband and a father. I know you talk about how much you love music and how you want to make people feel with it.

So can you tell me something? Can you tell me what this song means? Can you tell me how I, as a woman, am supposed to escape in it?

It's called "Gush," track number four on your new album.

Make the p*ssy just gush

Make it, make it, just gush

Make it, just gush

I make the p*ssy just gush

I make it, just gush

I could be the guy to treat you

To a nice movie, feed you

But I don't wanna mislead you

Tonight I think I wanna be dirty, girl

Do you wanna get dirty, girl?

Come on, light that ass on fire

Do you wanna get dirty, girl? Let's go

This isn't a hate letter or a letter attacking you, so I'm truly sorry if it comes off that way.

My main point is that you're in a position of control in pop culture. You were just named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people this year. You have the power to shape our culture, to change it, to do whatever you want with it. There are plenty of artists out there that don't give a fuck and will sing about "bitches" and money and drugs, and I'm not saying they're any better or worse. What gets me is that you talk about how you're not that guy. How you want to do things differently. How you want to make music for women and music that makes people feel. And I think you failed. And I want to know what the fuck happened.

In this same interview, you say this about success in the music business: "If that is your main concern, being on top, then you should probably find another business. Because our business works off of emotion."

I think you're right. I felt a lot of emotions when I listened to that album, but I just don't know that they're the ones you wanted me to feel.