While many consider In My Mind an artistic and commercial failure for Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator has cited the album for playing a pivotal role in both his artistic and personal growth.
Tyler paid tribute to Pharrell’s 2006 debut with an Instagram post on Monday, the tenth anniversary of the album’s release. Under a photo of him holding a vinyl copy of the record, he wrote a caption about what the LP meant to him, musically and personally.
He first spoke about specific songs and sounds on the album: “the upright baseline on “Can I Have It Like That” or the buckets on “How Does It Feel.” Off The Wall MJ on ‘Number 1.’ I still to this day don’t think I can make a song better than ‘That Girl.’ And ‘I Really Like You Girl’ is easily the best song on this album with your best Timberlake impression and Stevie harmonica,” he wrote.
While reading Tyler nerd out over Pharrell’s musical expertise is touching, what is equally as moving is what Pharrell represented to him as an independent thinker and creator.
“Being 15 black not really ‘interested’ in what the majority of my peers were into, it made me feel safe,” Tyler shared. “I was optimistic, always daydreaming and setting goals so I felt you were directly speaking to me. I remember Clancy telling me how Jimmy Iovine thought this album was a ‘complete fucking failure it didn’t work.’ But see, it did, just not on the kids he was looking at.”
Tyler went on to write that he created Odd Future that same summer.
“I was actually naive enough to believe you and thought I could do all these amazing things if I really tried,” he wrote. “…I’m now a young entrepreneur all because I believed you when you said I could be.”
Tyler's comments are interesting because, yes, the album was critically panned - and even Pharrell himself has made comments about the album that suggest he was disappointed.
So often we judge albums as soon as they're released, writing them off on Twitter seconds after the pop up on iTunes and Spotify, already anticipating the next release. Meanwhile, that same album is changing another person’s life. Pharrell's influence has always been clear in Tyler, The Creator’s music, and Tyler gives Skateboard P his flowers every chance he gets. But none of us would have picked In My Mind as being such a pivotal record for him.
Our trash was Tyler's treasure, jumpstarting one of the most authentic musical movements of this generation, and solidifying himself as a leader in this new class of musical wunderkinds.
Tyler's revelation doesn't mean that everyone should retroactively like the album, but we should keep the story in mind when dismissively throwing folders in the recycling bin.