He's the guy with the Dudley Do-Right Mounties hat who nearly stole the show at the Grammys, winning four awards and performing "Get Lucky" with his collaborators and co-Grammy winners Daft Punk and the legendary Stevie Wonder. The song was named Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance "Get Lucky," while Random Access Memories, the album that spawned it, was named Album of the Year.
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Aside from his wins with Daft Punk, Williams also won Producer of the Year for his work on Jay Z's "BBC," Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," which he also sang on; his own "Happy" from the "Despicable Me 2" soundtrack; Jennifer Hudson's "I Can't Describe (The Way I Feel)," Destiny Child's "Nuclear," Frank Ocean's "Ocean," and Mayer Hawthorne's "Reach Out Richard" and "The Stars Are Ours." (He also won the same award in 2004 as a member of the Neptunes, his production duo with long-time friend Chad Hugo.)
In other words, dude's been busy, and he's not planning to stop anytime soon. Late last year, he signed a deal as a solo artist with Columbia Records, which is also the home of Daft Punk. "Happy," which was recently given the groundbreaking 24-hour video treatment, and is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, will be featured on the album that's due sometime later this year. He's also fourth on the bill at Coachella, sandwiched between Skrillex and Lorde, on April 12 and 19.
Not too much is known about Williams' forthcoming solo album, but one thing is clear, we shouldn't expect too much rapping on the album from the artist sometimes known as Skateboard P. "That's the different between [being] 30 and 40," Williams told Complex in an interview in November. "Cause I was 30. Now I'm 40, and I'm not rapping."
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You might be surprised to learn that this won't be Williams' first solo effort. In 2006, he released In My Mind, featuring an all-star list of guests including Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, the Gap Band's Charlie Wilson, Jay Z, Nelly, and Kanye West. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 142,000 in its first week, but it didn't have much staying power and received mixed reviews from critics.
Williams was also the lead singer and drummer of the four-piece band known as N.E.R.D., which also included his Neptunes' producing partner Hugo. The group's released four albums, including 2004's Fly or Die and 2008's Seeing Sounds, which both cracked the top 10, but they failed to score any hit singles in the U.S.
Still, given Williams' track record as a producer -- which also includes hits by Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Nelly, and others , and his recent hot streak with Daft Punk and Robin Thicke -- we wouldn't count him out. Get ready to see a lot more of Williams in the coming months, with or without that hat.