The Neptunes, the all-star producing team also known as N.E.R.D., have gathered some of hip-hop’s biggest players together for an eclectic array of songs that all have unique distinctive beats yet blend together for a refreshing sound. Distinguishing themselves from the dancehall beats that are quickly becoming the staple sound in mainstream radio, they’ve put together a compilation album featuring artists they’ve worked with or produced for.
The Neptunes — Hugo and the increasingly ubiquitous Pharrell Williams — have worked with everyone who is anyone in the music industry from Britney Spears and N*SYNC to No Doubt and P. Diddy. Hailing from Virginia Beach, the two built a groundswell around rap production work, including Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got My Money” in 1999 and Jay-Z’s “I Want to Love U” in 2001, before taking on the pop world, and have since become two of the biggest producers in the music industry. That’s not to mention artists they’ve helped come up, including the Clipse and Kelis.
There is this flow on the Neptunes’ debut album, The Neptunes Present…Clones, that unifies each artist’s different sound. From Ludacris featuring 1-20 with “It Wasn’t Us” to Spymob with “Half Steering,” these tracks go together perfectly despite that they’re completely different, with Spymob’s track filling in the rock category and Ludacris’s grimey hip-hop.
Some notable tracks off this album include “Frontin’ ” which really puts a spotlight on Pharrell’s amazing voice and features Jay-Z. This was not the first time the duo has worked together; Pharrell was featured on Jay-Z’s track “Excuse Me Miss” released earlier this year. Clones sheds light on some up and coming musicians and vocalists, such as Vanessa Marquez, who’s track “Good Girl” brings in a fresh new soulful sound to hip-hop.
The album’s party tracks, including Busta Rhymes’ “Light Your Ass on Fire” and N.O.R.E.’s “Put ’em Up,” both of which feature Pharrell, are sure to get massive rotation at clubs everywhere. Both songs have the great hooks and catchy beats that exemplify the Neptune’s sound. Kelis’s “Popular Thug,” which feature’s her boyfriend Nas in a really different light than we’ve come to know him, is a standout. In this bittersweet love song, Kelis says: “I should have heard it in the way you said my name / While I analyzed your tone you were formulating games / But ya / Make my record skip.”
With Clones, the Neptunes prove their talent is unlimited. They contributed to each song on this album, be it performing, producing or writing. If this album is a preview of what is to come form this team in the future, there is no telling what ground-breaking beats or innovative styles they’ll come up with next. The Neptunes Present…Clones is a collective mix of innovative, unique and creative beats that can only be delivered by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo.