Well, it’s about time Pharrell Williams has decided to speak on the issue. He was eerily quiet about it all until just recently. And now that’s he’s opened his mouth, I can throw him some of the shade I was generously giving Robin Thicke.
“I’m a huge fan of Marvin Gaye. He is a genius. He is the patriarch.”
— Pharrell Williams
Really, Pharrell? Since when did it become okay to preemptively sue our patriarchal geniuses of Black music after you knowingly stole their songs?
… Oh, never mind. I remember: Hiphop.
“If you read music, all you have to do is read the sheet music. It’s completely different.”
— Pharrell Williams
I read music, do you? And what sheet music are you talking about? From some wack publishing company that did a transcription of Marvin Gaye’s work? Since when do people learn funk tunes from sheet music? Many funk legends can’t even read music. Marvin Gaye couldn’t read or write music, yet he wrote the tune. So what does that say, really?
Pharrell goes on to say:
“[Gaye] is the king of all kings, so let’s be clear about that. And we take our hats off to him, but anybody that plays music and reads music, just simply go to the piano and play the two. One’s minor and one’s major. And not even in the same key.”
Okay, Mr. Williams. You are wrong. Both of the tunes are actually in Major. The difference is that your song is just a major triad “G-B-D over G” and Gaye’s tune is in Dominant Major which means he flatted the 7th degree of the scale (G-C#-E over A), which would explain why y’all’s song sounds like Oktoberfest and Marvin’s song sounds like the Blues. And Marvin’s tune doesn’t go into minor until the bridge. If that monotonous piece of trash you call a song had a bridge, you probably would have stolen it, too. And just because you and Thicke lowered the key a whole step from A to G and removed the Blues doesn’t mean you didn’t steal it. Thicke has already admitted you did.
“Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”
— Robin Thicke
So, how you have the hubris to pretend you didn’t steal it is jive.
Let me just explain a couple things to you:
1.) Sheet music may be the legal reference for copyright in the court systems of America, but it has never been the be-all end-all for Black music. A lot of our music has never been written down, it’s an oral and aural tradition passed down generation-to-generation from master to student.
2.) Many of our Kings of Kings could not read music themselves, either because they were blind or just never learned to read. Reading music is certainly helpful, but it isn’t necessary to do so to be a great musician. All that is required is that you have ears. And anyone with ears can hear that you clearly stole this song.
And to those of you who say I know nothing about Hiphop, if “Blurred Lines” is Hiphop, I don’t want to know anything about it. So let me officially go on record now and say that I hate Hiphop. There are certain artists who claim Hiphop that I dig, but Hiphop as a whole is wack. It’s a parasitic culture that preys on real musicians for its livelihood. I may not know anything about Hiphop, but I don’t have to. Without real artists and musicians like me, you’d have nothing to steal. I know enough about it all to know that.
One of the world’s most renowned producers can’t tell the difference between a minor chord and a Dominant 7th, something that you learn the first week in music theory class. It’s like a doctor not knowing the difference between your ears and your eyes. A musical illiterate has the nerve to tell people they would understand he didn’t steal Marvin’s song if they read music. And we wonder why today’s music is shit?
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop