Pharrell Williams is best known as the outspoken half of the Neptunes, a man with a Diddy complex and desire to be a frontman. Although most of us would prefer to just hear him singing hooks on Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg songs, Pharrell is talented enough as a producer and songwriter to give him a pass. But his solo debut, In My Mind, does not live up to the hype. Although it’s impeccably produced, the album is at times lazy, repetitive and incomprehensible. If it were not for some carefully picked friends, it might be a dud altogether.
The album’s biggest problem is that many of the productions sound like retreads of past Neptunes tracks for other artists. You’d think Pharrell would drop the freshest of fresh beats for his own release, but tracks such as “Raspy Shit” and “How Does It Feel” don’t really come off as cutting edge considering what we have heard from this guy. “Angel” basically sounds like an update of Jay-Z’s “Change Clothes,” just not as fun. The album’s hottest tracks — “That Girl” and “Stay With Me” — both revolve around a mid-tempo 808 bass and off-kilter electronic atmospherics.
Lyrically, Pharrell has a long way to go. His flow is cool but at times the rhymes seem to have been jacked from a nursery, and at other times they come off as utter nonsense. What elevates the album is the A-list guest talent that seems right at home within Pharrell’s crisp productions. Tracks featuring Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Pusha T all shine as if Pharrell works better when he is collaborating than when he is flying solo.
I wanted to embrace this album, but it’s a disappointment. In My Mind has several potential hit singles, but taken as a whole it falls dramatically short.
Label: http://www.interscope.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/pharrell