words // Matt Halfhill
select photography // Oscar Castillo
Super Bowl Weekend was an eventful one. Ice, snow, well-below-zero temperatures, and a wind that you were convinced was removing a layer of skin from your face. But past the weather, the city of Minneapolis was home to the biggest game in football on Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles took on the New England Patriots for the bragging rights of Super Bowl LII Champs. Beyond the game, the weekend saw the likes of many events and parties for fans and athletes.
Celebrating the introduction of the Speed Factory adidas football cleats, the Three Stripes hosted the members of extended adidas family that included their athletes that included the likes of Von Miller and Aaron Rodgers, Hall-of-Famers Joe Montana and Eric Dickerson, celebrities that ranged from Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg to that of Pharrell.
The enthusiasm on the faces of the athletes did not go unnoticed as they entered the lounge, but what they didn’t know was that Pharrell had something for them that he had been working on with adidas for quite some while – their powerful Liberty + Justice cleats.
Pharrell spoke with myself and writers from Hypebeast and UPROXX about the Liberty and Justice cleats he built with adidas’ Speed Factory, where we are as a nation today, the power of youth, the weakness of the old, and the importance of now.
I heard our available time to speak with Pharrell was going to be relatively limited, time didn’t seem to be a thing. What we thought might be 5 minutes turned into 23:48. And it was in the middle of this conversation when Pharrell discussed the importance of now and the present that I realized that time is measuring the distance before or after the present.
Greeting media members in sunglasses that could’ve just as easily been from the future as the past, the man of the moment was in the moment as he discussed the power of now. “I think the present is everything,” proclaimed Pharrell. “Now is a gift, that’s why they call it a present because it’s a gift. There’s an incredible power in what’s in right now because you can actually influence what the past will be.”
For Pharrell and adidas, influencing what will ultimately be the past via what’s currently the present is best seen through their collaborative cleats that have the rights, mind, body and soul of NFL athletes at the heart of their inspiration. “These guys in the NFL are risking their lives,” reflected Pharrell. “Meanwhile, in the midst of this political adversity, these guys are standing up for our culture. And it’s not just black players, it’s white players doing it too. You’ve got this political noise getting in the way of all this. My idea was very simple, it’s liberty and justice for all. Then that’s what needs to be on their feet every step that they take.”
Aware of the political chaos that surrounds the country but also the sport, P made it clear that his message — and that of the players — is classic peaceful protest. “There’s no Molotov cocktails, there’s no placards, they’re not holding up signs, they’re not throwing rocks, they’re just exercising their liberty and their justice for all. To me, the idea that a big major corporation like adidas is willing to stand behind these players? I think we’re making some progression, that’s how I feel about now. I think that adidas is exercising the power of now.”
My idea was very simple, it’s liberty and justice for all. Then that’s what needs to be on their feet every step that they take.
While football was the focus for Pharrell in regards to his appearance, the overarching theme of the power of now proved powerful for not just the moment, but for what he believes lies ahead. “Listen, it’s an amazing time,” Pharrell said proudly. “The youth is taking over and the women are taking over. And you know what? Either get with it or get out the way. I’m grateful for this time. I know that there’s room to grow because these kids aren’t going to have it.”
Much of this room to grow is reflected with Pharrell’s longstanding Hu line with adidas, centered around celebrating equality and diversity. Super Bowl weekend — and of course the cleats — continued to marry those values with that of sport.
“With my brand Hu that I do with adidas, we always knew sports were going to be important because it’s about fitness and health,” noted P. “I’m just grateful for this opportunity because I think adidas has proven that it’s always been for the people. adidas was there when Bob Marley was wearing it, Marvin Gaye was wearing it, adidas is for the common man.”
These days the common man, or rather his brand brethren and sport sisters, consist of other enlightened peers who push their platform past just sport and music. Ranging from Lionel Messi and Damian Lillard to Pusha-T and Karlie Kloss as seen in the Calling All Creators campaign.
Did you like that clip? Well so did Pharrell “That commercial was awesome,” exclaimed the man of the moment. Though athletes of the basketball, football and soccer variety were all seated at the table, one sport close to Pharrell was noticeably missing from both the commercial and even that of his Hu line. Stimulating our interest, we had to ask: is it possible the man once known as Skateboard P would bring the board back to adidas? When asked about the possibility of Skate Hu, his eyes lit up. “Skateboarding has been the lens in which I see everything. Like even when my mom stopped subscribing to the skateboarding magazines I had as a little boy and I moved on, you still never look at life the same. Once you see it that way, you see it that way. I wouldn’t be here with out skateboarding and music. Those are the two things that sort of framed my perception, because the way you perceive things informs your perspective. So it’s like your perspective informs your perception and skateboarding is definitely my perception.”
Though Super Bowl has passed and their is no confirmation that Skate Hu in the future, what just was or what could be has nothing on now according to Pharrell.
“Your greatest power is in the present, so now is a gift. No matter how hard it’s raining today, that’s just today. We just keep going, don’t we bro?” Pharrell both asks and states while receiving a nod and hand shake from Chad Ocho Cinco. “We just keep going. God is the greatest. That’s my opinion. Some people don’t believe in God, but they at least believe in the universe and the universe is far more vast than our minds or our imagination. The idea that we live in that, we’re just so lucky. You’ve gotta just take advantage of this moment right now, that’s what this is all about.”
So, the moral of the story from Pharrell and adidas? If you want to create the future you must live in the now.