*Pharrell Williams revealed in the latest episode of N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN’s “Drink Champs” that the bulk of tracks on Justin Timberlake’s hit debut album, “Justified,” were originally meant for Michael Jackson.
“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 added to the recollection: “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. All but one song, they were written for Michael.”
“John McClain was like, ‘Man, Michael don’t want that s–t! He want the s–t 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.”‘
The rejection led to a hit album for Timberlake. “Justified,” produced mostly by Pharrell, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 following its November 2002 release, and has since gone triple platinum.
It turns out that Michael Jackson wasn’t the only mega music star to turn down tunes written by Pharrell. Prince also rejected his work too, the producer shared. “I tried for years to make records for him,” he admitted to the hosts as they were enjoying a cocktail named after the iconic musician’s “Purple Rain.”
“My first attempt at making a record with him was “Frontin’,”” he shared. Pharrell eventually recorded it himself. “I think I wrote a different version a little bit for him. He wasn’t into it.”
When N.O.R.E. called the song one of his favorite Pharrell tunes of all time, the singer-producer admitted, “That was me pretending to be [Prince].”
Watch the entire interview below.