GQ Hype: It’s the big story of right now.
Tyler, the Creator is roaming the streets of Barcelona, bypassing cheering fans, as he talks about recording his verse for “Cash In Cash Out,” the new Pharrell Williams single out today, which also features 21 Savage. “Some time back, he played me this 21 Savage song and I was like this is the hardest shit I’ve ever heard in my life,” Tyler recalls after logging on to a Zoom chat under the name “auntie daddy.” “The beat sounded like an alley. It sounded like the syringe that’s in the puddle near the trash can where sketchy shit goes down. Hearing 21 over something so left was awesome.”
He heard the song again while visiting Williams in Miami more than a year ago. Williams, who has been an inspiration to the Los Angeles rapper for decades, mentioned he was trying to figure out who else to add to the song. “In my head I’m like, man, let me take a fucking stab at it,” Tyler says. “But I didn’t really say anything.” Eventually, he texted Williams and asked him to send him an instrumental version; Tyler says he sent a voice memo containing his verse back within three days.
“[Pharrell] FaceTimed me instantly, just with this fucking weird face on. He didn’t even say anything. And then he just hung the fuck up.”
That’s how Tyler knew he’d made the cut.
When I relay Tyler’s description of the song to Williams, he looks a mixture of confused and amused. Wearing a red hoodie and speaking via Zoom, the producer says the song sounds like “electrically-charged black clouds,” adding “it’s aggressive and it’s urgent and it’s infectious.” The titular hook is delivered by 21 Savage, and Pharrell came up with the song while he was working on music for the East Atlanta rapper’s next album. But “Cash In Cash Out” was immediately something Williams wanted to keep for himself. “I was like, man, I want this one,” he recalls.