Speaking to Shannon Sharpe on his Club Shay Shay podcast on Monday (January 23), Tip explained that while he “values and respects” the amazing producers he’s worked with — to include Dr. Dre and Swizz Beatz — Pharrell was the first mega-producer to give him a big break financially.
“Pharrell was the first superstar, A-list producer, who would say, ‘You know what? I like this guy, I’m going to work with him. I’m going to give him access to my skillset, my talents, my efforts.’ He did that my first album,” T.I. revealed, adding that he reached out to Pharrell first.
“But at the same time he said ‘yes,’ he was getting $100k a track and I couldn’t afford to pay that,” T.I. continued. “So he had to kinda like, in the sense of sports, he had to take a pay cut so we could play together. And, he was gracious enough to do that; time and time and time again. Until, we grew.”
When questioned on whether Pharrell was really racking in $100k a track, T.I. jokingly responded, “That’s what he was getting. Maybe more.” He continued, “He’s getting blank checks at this point.”
As for the number of tracks in which Pharrell took a price cut, T.I. offered the following: “If you get twelve tracks from Pharrell on one album, it’s usually going to be on his album. However, if you did two or three (tracks), you know what I’m saying. You can expect to part ways without the consideration.”
He concluded: “Exceptions are made for exceptional circumstance. And, he found reason to make the exception and he fit into my cap; my first half — we just started to develop a relationship and we’ve been working together ever since. That’s one of the dopest producers I’ve worked with. Jazze Pha as well.”
Pharrell and partner Chad Hugo, collectively known as The Neptunes, produced two tracks from T.I.’s 2001 debut I’m Serious: the title track, which featured Reggae superstar Beenie Man; and “What’s Yo Name,” on which the production duo was also listed as featured artists.
The Neptunes went on to contribute to Tip’s third album Urban Legend, his fourth album King, his seventh LP No Mercy and his next two releases, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head and Paperwork.
In addition to his own projects, T.I. has also appeared on a number of Pharrell-produced singles, most notably Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which resulted in a years-long copyright infringement lawsuit.
In another segment from his Club Shay Shay interview, the “Live Your Life” rapper credited his success to those who came before him, explaining, he’s been fortunate to rub elbows and soak up game from Hip Hop legends like Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z — adopting what works for him and making it his own. “
I see myself as a hybrid kind of between, I guess, Jay, ‘Pac, Puff and like a Snoop, you know what I’m saying?” T.I. told Shannon Sharpe. “I kind of hop in and out and take pages out of the book of legends, and I’ve been fortunate enough and blessed enough to be able to have these relationships where I could sit and engage and soak up game.”