Imagine Michael Jackson singing about crying over rivers.
Well, apparently, Pharrell Williams is sparking that imagination as the artist-producer said Jackson actually rejected the bulk of the Justified album, which was then given to Justin Timberlake, on a recent appearance on N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN’s podcast, Drink Champs.
Yes, the very album that went triple platinum and catapulted Timberlake to another level beyond his *NSYNC days was almost yet another legendary work of Jackson’s.
Here’s how it went down, according to Billboard:
“You hit me and said, ‘Yo, I just sent Michael Jackson some beats!’,” N.O.R.E. recalled while chatting with Pharrell. “You said to me, ‘He told me, “NOPE! I don’t think N.O.R.E. would rhyme on that. I was like, ‘My life is done!’”
Pharrell elaborated on the tale. “John McClain was his manager at the time. We sent him pretty much all the stuff you guys are hearing on the first Justified album—that’s all Michael stuff,” the performer, songwriter and record producer revealed. “All but one song, they were written for Michael.”
“John McClain was like, ‘Man, Michael don’t want that shit! He want the shit you givin’ Noreaga!’” Pharrell continued, noting that this was right before the King of Pop’s “You Rock My World” era. He also shared that it was one of his collaborations with N.O.R.E. that Jackson wanted. “ He was like, ‘Yo, he want that “Superthug.”’
Pharrell, along with his Neptunes production-partner-in-crime Chad Hugo, was a part of the production process for Justified and the duo has producer credits on hit singles from Timberlake’s debut solo album such as, “Señorita,” “Like I Love You” and “Rock Your Body.”
In other news, the Purple One also turned down some Pharrell tracks. That’s right, Prince turned down Pharrell’s music after Pharrell tried “for years to make records for him.”
“My first attempt at making a record with him was “Frontin’,” he shared, referencing the song he ended up recording himself. “I think I wrote a different version a little bit for him. He wasn’t into it.”
Hey, you can’t win ‘em all. Given the sheer number of major hits Pharrell has produced, I guess the fact he didn’t land those major artists is just an example of basic odds.
If you want to check out the full episode of Drink Champs featuring Pharrell, you can below: