by Aaron Tian
We keep it rolling with the top half of Pharrell’s incredible collaborative résumé. (Check out Part 1)
6. Justin Timberlake
What songs define Justin Timberlake’s early career/transition out of NSYNC? Maybe “Like I Love You,” maybe “Señorita,” maybe “Rock Your Body.” And who do you think produced them jaunts? Look no further than the almighty Neptunes. The mere sight of these videos is probably enough to flood your senses with nostalgia, so I’ll just leave them here so you can observe them in all of your pre-pubescent glory.
5. Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco – Child Rebel Soldier
Oh, the greatness that could have been. In 2007, Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco was fresh off of (what I consider to be) his magnus opus, The Cool. At the same time, West had just dropped Graduation and officially launched himself into the musical stratosphere, where nobody would be able to touch him for years to come. This too-good-to-be-true super trio came together under the name Child Rebel Soldier and had every hip hop head worldwide begging for an album.
Unfortunately, that album never came. In its stead, we received a beautifully eclectic Thom Yorke remix titled “US Placers,” unofficial video by Va$htie. We also received a hypnotic ode to cocaine on the group’s remix of NERD’s “Everyone Nose.” As a final farewell, they released “Don’t Stop” as a part of Kanye’s GOOD Fridays leading up to the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Don’t fret though, because Skateboard P has a wealth of work with Kanye and Lupe separately.
4. Snoop Dogg and Charlie Wilson
In June of 2013, an all-star cast of performers came together at the BET Awards to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the great Charlie Wilson. Among them were longtime collaborators Snoop Dogg and Pharrell, whose performance of “Beautiful” and “Signs” called attention to their incredible chemistry both on stage and in the studio.
They first came together in 2002 and have kept the magic going to this day, dropping countless gems along the way. Just last year, Pharrell executive produced Snoop’s psychedelic album Bush with background vocals from Uncle Charlie on damn near every track.
As a duo, Snoop has brought the gangster out of Pharrell on a few different occasions. Most notably, his 2006 hit “Vato” and 2004’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Don’t ever take Skateboard P for a punk.
3. Jay Z
In his documentary Fade To Black, Jay would later say of Pharrell “We all work with a lot of different people in this business, but there’s those special combinations you know just brings out the best in you.” Pharrell always brought the best out of Jay. He pushed him into faster rhythms and major-key melodies, forcing him to try new things and construct concepts from a totally different mindset.
It’s a concept that he talks a bit about in the movie clip above. Pharrell’s sound was so distinct from that of Jay’s other producers, when they linked up, it always stood out. Classics such as “Change Clothes” and “Frontin’” have such a refreshing dichotomy between Jay’s stern flows and Pharrell’s falsetto melodies. In theory, it shouldn’t work at all, but it totally does.
They’re latest tracks together came on Jay’s last project Magna Carta Holy Grail in 2013, but here’s to hoping for many more in the future.
With Pharrell behind them, Clipse became one of the greatest rap groups of the decade. Made up of Pusha T and Malice (now known as No Malice), they didn’t just make hits, they made hood masterpieces that continue to define the era of rap in which they were bred. They first linked up in 1998 for Clipse’s “Got Caught Dealin’ Part II,” and must have taken an immediate liking to each other, based on the volume of music they would put out together in the following years.
Pharrell put Clipse on the map, getting them on tracks with everyone from The Backstreet Boys to Birdman. Then, they proved that they were there to stay with their Neptune’s produced debut album Lord Willin’ which featured Pharrell a whopping 11 times. That album was later certified gold.
However, it wasn’t until 2006 that The Neptunes and Clipse released their magnus opus: Hell Hath No Fury. Gritty lyrics, sharply crafted instrumentals, and a completely entrenching, entertaining listen from start to finish, this album was ahead of its time in many ways.
Their final project came in 2009 with Till The Casket Drops, which is another great effort, though less iconic in many ways than their previous. After the release of this album, Malice would convert to Christianity and do a complete 180 on his philosophy in life and music. Luckily, Pusha’s been picked up by Kanye’s GOOD Music and continues to produce fuego with Pharrell.
Our top spot on the list brings it all the way back to the beginning. N.E.R.D. (No-One Ever Really Dies) is a genre-bending band made up of Pharrell, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley. They’ve been on and off since 1999, releasing 4 studio albums in their time together. For those who grew up with N.E.R.D. and their music, it is difficult to describe exactly why they are so special or what differentiates them from the rest of Pharrell’s admittedly gigantic portfolio.
Each member of the group is incredibly talented and unique on their own, but when they came together, they created something completely unlike any of their other work or anything else that existed at the time. They formed a psychedelic rock, funk-infused hip hop band with a knack for songs that kept you coming back listen after listen.
Their influence and authenticity has earned them cult following throughout the years. It only makes Pharrell’s career all the more interesting. A kid from Virginia who started making music with his hometown friend, went on to produce countless international hits with the industry’s biggest starts, has graced magazine covers and television screens, but still brings it back to basics to make music with the guys he’s known since 1999.
The group disbanded momentarily in 2005, but soon found themselves missing the energy the others brought into the studio. Their last full-length album Nothing was released in 2010, but they’ve been stirring up once again. They released 3 tracks for The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water and have since announced that they will follow work on new music in the future. Here’s to you N.E.R.D., we can’t wait to see what you cook up next.