Release Date: 03.12.02
Record label: Virgin Records
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
Things Are Getting Better (for Music)
by: the munk
Over the last few years, a new genre of music has erupted on the scene. Rap-rock first became known in the mid 1980’s with the collaboration of RunDMC and Aerosmith’s rendition of “Walk This Way”. It was an immediate hit and the nature of its diversity caught the attention of many different audiences.
Since then, this combination of rough guitar riffs, rhyming vocals, and hard-hitting hip-hop beats has been replicated over and over to no end, each time trying to capture the same freshness that Aerosmith and RunDMC once had. We have seen this throughout music in the last ten years with the arrival of bands such as Kid Rock, 311, Limp Bizkit and the like.
Recently, a small group of producers known for coming up with obscure, tasty beats for the likes of Britney Spears and P. Diddy (amongst others), has made their presence known for capturing the same zest that the founders of rap-rock developed. They are Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, other wise known as N.E.R.D (No One Ever Really Dies).
In Search Of… is a prime example of what rap-rock has the capabilities to be. The Neptunes take the obligatory rock guitar and basic hip hop beats and insert something extra; and with the added use of turntables to provide loops and synthesized instruments N.E.R.D. go beyond what previous contenders have brought to the table.
In the first single, “Rock Star,” (an angst-filled anthem to posers) Williams and Hugo supply edgy vocals and energetic beats that guarantee to get adrenaline flowing. Yet N.E.R.D. also show their potential to provide smoothed out tracks, with “Run Into the Sun” maintaining the hip-hop feeling but also adding unbelievably deep lyrics once unheard of in this genre, let alone popular music. (“Yesterday I tied two rocks together to symbolize our lives/and threw them in the ocean/ now they’re on the ocean floor coastin’/till they stop rollin’”)
Along with the new flavor, In Search Of…brings to the genre, the mandatory atrocious tracks are nonetheless included. This can’t be more blatant than in songs like “Tape You” which explores the more graphic yet, surprisingly honest side of propositioning one’s girlfriend about taping her engaging in lesbian sex. Not only are the lyrics juvenile (“Now go kiss her boobs/and you kiss her boobs too/get your finger dashin’/lights, camera, action!”), but the synthesized high-pitched loop is somewhat annoying.
All in all, with their witty lyrics, unrefined beats, and first-rate production, Williams and Hugo have shown what imagination, honesty and ingenuity could result in. N.E.R.D. isn’t just what rap-rock has been waiting for, it’s what popular music has been waiting for. 18-Jul-2002 8:26 AM