First off, Pharrell is 40 years old. Who’da thunk? With that fact comes the need to understand that he didn’t just have a breakout year for no reason. The dude has been grinding for almost two decades. 

Most people just didn’t recognize his presence until now, even though he led the group NERD through four studio albums, was part of Justin Timberlake’s early solo success and has worked with Adam Lambert, Lupe Fiasco and Future. He even helped create Chelsea Handler’s intro tune to her show, Chelsea Lately, in 2012.

Pharrell and Lupe during a photoshoot with Terry Richardson in 2010.

Pharrell and Lupe Fiasco

Pharrell jams on the drums while bandmate (from N.E.R.D), Chad Hugo and Justin Timberlake play guitar during Timberlake's video shoot for "Señorita" in 2003.

Pharrell and JT

You might recognize one of Pharrell’s first real licks at radio play in NERD’s 2001 release, “Lapdance.”

We’ve been fans of Pharrell since the get-go, so we wanted to compile a few of our favorites from the early 2000s. Maybe you’ve heard them, or maybe you haven’t. Either way, check out these tunes:

N.E.R.D.- "Brain"

N.E.R.D.- "Maybe"

N.E.R.D.- "The Way She Dances"

N.E.R.D.- "Things Are Getting Better"

N.E.R.D. feat. Kelis- "Truth Or Dare"