Release Date: Nov 2, 2010
Record label: Star Trak
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Contemporary R&B, Rap-Rock
N*E*R*D :: NothingStar Trak/Interscope RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonAny short list of hip-hop's most influential producers over the last 15 years worth its salt would have to include Pharrell Williams. If that seems to be giving Chad Hugo the shaft, his creative partner in The Neptunes, you've gotten the right idea. Don't mistake this opening paragraph for an indictment of Hugo's work though, it's more about Hugo's fame as an artist.
Of all the albums out this year, the two by The Roots (the hip-hop powerhouse that is How I Got Over and the soulful John Legend collaboration Wake Up!) shine bright on my list. In both LPs, specifically the latter, the band took elements of vintage R&B, funk, protests songs, and jazz and made them fit the confines of the modern rap world. But if you think Questlove and company cornered the market on revitalizing the sounds of old, think again.
For all the Neptunes’ (Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and at times Shay Haley) glamorous Billboard credentials, it is interesting how mediocre most of their self-billed projects turn out. While their 2001/2002 debut In Search Of… turned plenty of heads with its soulful vibe, Pharrell’s intriguing if not insightful lyrics and the bombastic lead single “Lapdance”, the rest of their solo careers have been fairly shaky. First, there was the Clones project, a somewhat slipshod compilation of hip-hop collaborations under the Neptunes moniker.
Even though one suspects that the man himself finds it rather easy, it’s really hard to love [b]Pharrell Williams[/b]. He’s like a one-man embodiment of Napoleon syndrome. Despite overwhelming evidence to support the notion that he should quit vocal duties forever, he continues to labour under the delusion that his cochlea-shredding falsetto sounds like anything other than [a]Prince[/a] with his scrotum in a vice; and still he raps, despite the fact that he can no more drop a decent couplet than he can shit Fabergé eggs.He dresses like a teenage skateboarder despite being 37, a look that isn’t even good if you actually ARE a teenage skateboarder.
Since their debut album spawned several hit party jams, genre-bending band N.E.R.D have spent much of the last decade as a singles act. On their fourth release, Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shae Haley make a concerted effort to keep the party going strong, and they mostly succeed. [rssbreak] Lead singer Williams is the epitome of effortless cool: a super-sexy R&B star with deep musical knowledge.
Even among pop stars, a demographic made up entirely of magical thinkers, Pharrell Williams' all-encompassing belief in himself is remarkable. It's hard to imagine that he's ever had what he considered to be a bad idea. On the one hand, this sublime self-confidence is sort of awe-inspiring, and exactly the sort of attitude we demand from our pop stars.
Review Summary: "People don't wanna think no more / they just wanna feel" Well, you can’t blame N.E.R.D. for trying to pull one over on their fans. Nothing is just what it brazenly titles itself as – an empty record, one lacking the sometimes questionable but more often than not intriguing experimentation and oddball weirdness that might not have made their earlier records great, but at least made them interesting.
Album four from Pharrell and company features its share of dancefloor fillers. Mike Diver 2010 A decade ago the hottest production team on the planet was The Neptunes – Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. With a unique sonic palette, the award-winning duo worked on records by massive artists including Justin Timberlake, Kelis and Jay-Z. In 2001, they translated behind-the-scenes success into spotlight-stealing acclaim as N*E*R*D (No-One Ever Really Dies), adding Shay Haley to create a trio.