“Individuality is the new wealth.”
In the first installment of my “To Be A MiSFiT” series, I broke down what the meaning of being a misfit meant to me. An individualist whom admires not only the nonconformity of themselves but of others too. A leader, a visionary and a lover of freedom of self-expression. As I spoke of Jaden Smith and his creation of his clothing line and movement MSFTSRep and his method of divergent thinking, I couldn’t help but think of one man who is the prime example of problem-solving while expanding the minds of those around him.
Pharrell Williams hasn’t always been the man that you see today. There was a time when he was just a very fashionable producer, half of the record producing enigma known as The Neptunes with Chad Hugo. But even during those times, Pharrell always stood out from the rest of his peers, whether it was with his unique signature sound of music, fashion sense or the way he spoke of the world around him. In the last 14 years, Pharrell has collaborated with some of the most prestigious of people, to creating the future with I Am Other, a multimedia creative Collective and record label.
Skateboard P is the medium between what we have and what we want. He has provided not only knowledge but many opportunities to those who are less fortunate. In 2008, Pharrell founded the From one hand to anOTHER foundation, a non for profit organization that provides educational S.T.E.A.M.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Motivation.) FOTHA’s mission is to “change the world one kid at a time by providing them the tools and resources to meet their unique potential.” While doing so, notable companies such as Nickelodeon, Uni Qlo, the Virginia Beach City Public School system and even NASA has sponsored the efforts of the organization.
When Pharrell first created his YouTube platform i am OTHER, I remember being on there all the time. I was such a huge fan of Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl series and after season one, Pharrell was too. Pharrell describes his YouTube channel as a “Cultural movement dedicated to Thinkers, Innovators, and Outcasts.” In a manifesto that can be seen on the i am OTHER‘s official Tumblr page, Pharrell wrote the most profoundly important poem of what being an OTHER means to him.
i am OTHER
By Pharrell Williams
I serve and represent the OTHERS because I am one myself.
OTHERS defy expectations and stereotypes. We are curious, ambitious, energetic and have every intention of squeezing the most out of life. Above all, we are individuals.
OTHERS don’t fit into categories. We are not jocks. Or skaters. Or musicians. Or students. Or technologists. Or audiophiles. We want to be all of the above and then some.
OTHERS are a diverse group of optimistic, bright minds connected by technology and a desire to make our mark, who together can advance culture and even humanity.
OTHERS are not defined by demographics or geography. We have shared ideals, dreams and a vision for a new reality.
OTHERS believe individuality is the new wealth. Experiences are the new assets to acquire. Whoever is the most individual wins.
i am OTHER celebrates people who push society forward. The thinkers. The innovators. The outcasts. History has proven that it’s the rule breakers who have the power to change the world.
Pharrell’s movement to help shape and govern the minds of the youth and creative thinkers doesn’t stop at i am OTHER or his FOTHA Foundation. He has also provided Friendswithyou, a creative resources center that incorporates their artistic distinction into different ranges of applications, including fine art, branding, and animation and multimedia projects. Bionic Yarn, a textile firm that produces high-performance yarn and fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. Bionic Yarn has worked with G-Star Raw, Gap and Timberland, to name a few. Along with Collaborative Fund, Brooklyn Machine Works and UJam, Pharrell has mastered the technique of branding his resources and ideas with the belief of encouraging individuality and originality.
In closing, if Pharrell hasn’t inspired you with your music or art, then he has brought awareness to the fact that the lack of understanding of allowing one to express themselves without limitation can (and will) Have detrimental effects on the minds of future creatives. He has also spoken directly to these creatives, by reminding them that in order to do great things, they must be unafraid to recreate themselves. Recreating yourself is exactly what Pharrell did. What would the world be like if Pharrell has just continued to be a just music producer? What if he didn’t team up with Nigo of Bape and created The Billionaire Boys Club or the Ice Cream footwear? Would there still be a segregated fashion industry, if Pharrell didn’t help bridge the gap between High Fashion and Hip-hop? I wouldn’t want to live in a world without a “Pharrell“, would you?
From the movement of Jaden to the innovative erudition of Pharrell, I will next explore the artistic uniqueness of Solange Knowles. Solange has broken the barriers of the expectations that people have placed on her, being the sister of the one and only Beyoncé Knowles. With the Saint Heron website, Solange helps to glorify the diversity and progression in music and in culture. She is a force to be reckoned with. Until next time.