In an excerpt from Pharrell: People and Places I’ve Been, a coffee table book from singer-Neptunes producer Pharrell Williams, Jay talks about the importance of Kurt Cobain’s palpable presence on the bifurcating music scene, where hip-hop and grunge began to rise simultaneously.
Here’s the excerpt:
“It was weird because hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second, ya know? Those 'hair bands' were too easy for us to take out; when Kurt Cobain came with that statement it was like, 'We got to wait awhile.'”
Essentially, Shawn Carter was 23 years old in Brooklyn, New York, bopping his head and freestylin’ to Public Enemy when he heard Nevermind and was all like, “Never mind…” No one gets in the way of Jay-Z unless it’s K.C.
He pedals it back to the origins of youth’s disillusionment with the mainstream music scene in the early ‘90s. "First we got to go back to before grunge and why grunge happened. ‘Hair bands' dominated the airwaves and rock became more about looks than about actual substance and what it stood for – the rebellious spirit of youth ... That's why 'Teen Spirit' rang so loud because it was right on point with how everyone felt."
The book hits book stores everywhere on October 16 and starts with this conversation/Socratic lecture on grunge between Jay-Z and Pharrell, which also deviates into other topics like ‘90s hip-hop en masse, the death of Notorious B.I.G., and how to make a great record.