MINNEAPOLIS — Pharrell Williams will not be denied. The 44-year-old Virginia Beach native has been making his impact on music and culture felt for more than 25 years, and in 2018, his presence is as strong as ever. February’s run of major sporting events is as much proof as you need.
The NBA’s All-Star Weekend felt like a career retrospective, as Williams and his group N*E*R*D popped by the adidas 747 Warehouse event for a performance before bringing out a marching band, cars, dancers, and Migos for one of the better All-Star halftime shows in recent memory. But he started a whirlwind three-week stretch in Minnesota with the debut of his LIBERTY + JUSTICE cleats, hand delivering pairs to Von Miller, DeAndre Hopkins, Chad Johnson, and others, as Williams and Snoop Dogg held court at the adidas suite during Super Bowl weekend.
In a dizzying pair of weekends filled with activations, celebrity sightings, pop-ups, and Mad Libs fill-in-the-blank events (Coach K spotted at the Beats by Dre party before 2 Chainz performed, no really, this is true), Pharrell still managed to cut through the noise to deliver a balance of style and societal commentary.
The cleats (from adidas’ SPEEDFACTORY) are a strong embodiment of that. The pair that he passed out the day before the Super Bowl were white with black lettering, and the original concept featured the words liberty and justice on the bottom – so people could see them while players were kneeling.
The final message went on the upper and made an even bigger statement.