Pharrell Williams, has a nearly unparalleled string of hits stretching across multiple decades. There's party playlist staple "Frontin,'" from the Neptunes era. N.E.R.D. produced five albums' worth of bangers. And you can't ignore "Happy," a top-five earworm that no one can deny, even if they try. But "Blurred Lines," Pharrell's 2013 duet (of a sort) was criticized for perpetuating rape culture when it was released, and has only fallen further in infamy since. And during his cover interview for GQ's "New Masculinity" issue, Pharrell explained how he's grappled with the ramifications of the 6-year-old track.
"Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today. I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place... I think 'Blurred Lines' opened me up. I didn’t get it at first. Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing. So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was like, What are you talking about? There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up. And I know you want it—women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it’s like, What’s rapey about that?
"And then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, Got it. I get it. Cool. My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel. Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter. I cared what they were feeling, too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realized that. Didn’t realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind."