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Music July, 29 2013

Robin Thicke Discusses Working with Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, Michael Jordan & More

Leading up to the July 30 release of his latest album Blurred Lines, we recently sat down with musician Robin Thicke. Together, we talked about the album’s title track and certifiable summer anthem “Blurred Lines,” as well as the accompanying video clip before getting into the details of working with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kendrick Lamar and others.

“Blurred Lines” is pretty much the song of the summer. Did you imagine it would be so big?

I thought it would be a good crossover pop song, but I didn’t think it would do this.

How did that track come about, working with Pharrell?

We’d been recording for a couple days, we made a couple other songs and then I wanted to do something like Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” which is one of my favorite songs. Pharrell started messing with the drums, and an hour and a half later the whole record was done. It was pretty dope.

And how did T.I. end up on the track?

We were getting ready to shoot the video and I knew that I wanted to make a silly, funny video. We were thinking about what rappers had great personalities, that would be able to not just stand there and rap but are also great performers. And T.I. being a great actor and performer and all that stuff, he seemed like the perfect person for that.

What was the concept behind the video?

The concept was pretty simple. I was on the phone with the director and I said I wanted to do something like Benny Hill, something very silly and slapstick. And she said, “Well, what if we have the girls take their clothes off?” I said, “Let’s make sure we shoot two versions, just in case it gets a little sleazy.” And then when we saw the finished product, both videos were great. I was very happy with both of them.

Can you tell us about the balloons in the video…

That was the director’s idea. She said “what if we do a balloon thing with ‘Robin Thicke has a big dick.'” She just liked it because it rhymed (laughs). Otherwise, she has no proof (more laughter). So she was pretty much just going on a rhyming scheme. We figured we’d just shoot it and see if we needed it. And it ended up being pretty funny.

There’s a few other funny things in the video… like the lamb.

Yeah, the lamb. Pharrell. That was the funniest part of the day because I don’t think Pharrell’s ever held a farm animal before and he seemed very uncomfortable with it. So we all got a kick out of that.

What is the meaning behind the title of the album, Blurred Lines?

I think that as you get older… When you’re younger you think that you’re gonna live a certain way and you’re gonna do this, and marry this person and you’re going to… you know, you plan out your life. But then as life smacks you in the face a few times, you realize that life is not lived in the black and white, it is lived in-between the lines, in the “blurred lines.” For me, I think coming to that realization right now… life is not what I expected it to be, but you have to find a way to make the most of it, and love people to get love back.

Tell us about working with Kendrick Lamar on “Give It 2 U.”

I didn’t get to work in the studio with him, but I sent him the track and obviously he’s amazing, he’s brilliant. He just murdered it, killed it. We were very grateful and he loves the song, he’s very excited about it too. We haven’t shot the video yet, but we plan on having a pretty good time.

And how about the 2 Chainz remix?

Well actually 2 Chainz was on it first. What happened was I reached out to 2 Chainz, I went to a concert of his and him and I became friends. I was telling him, “I’m going to send you a track, I got a track for you.” And then I sent it to him and he nailed it. And then when Kendrick put his verse on it, we decided to go with Kendrick’s verse and use 2 Chainz for the remix. ‘Cause Kendrick’s verse goes a lot faster. He raps mostly in double-time so it seems to make the song go a little bit faster, so we ended up using his verse for the main version.

What other rappers would you like to work with?

Probably just Kanye. He’s probably the only one I haven’t worked with that I’d like to. I like A$AP also.

Would you want to work with Drake? I know you have a Canadian background.

Oh yeah Drake. I like Drake. Drake’s the man. I would definitely work with Drake.

We heard you recently performed at Michael Jordan‘s wedding. How was that?

That was great. I have performed at all of Michael’s events. His golf tournaments, his NBA All-Star parties, his Jordan stuff. He’s become a fan over the years which is the coolest thing for me, because I used to have his poster above my bed and play imaginary basketball with him in my backyard, one-on-one. Me vs. him. I always won, of course. But to have him singing my lyrics to his wife… And both of them knew all the words to the songs. To have them singing back and forth to each other was a pretty amazing compliment.

Interview: Pete Williams
Photography: Robert Wunsch

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