No one ever really dies are words to live by although how many bands do you know that would call themselves that? Well, hip hop producers The Neptunes abbreviate it as N.E.R.D. and then move to be such perfectionists as to postpone the original release of their debut album In Search Of... to rerecord it with a live band, Spymob.
In the meantime, after hooking up with Jay-Z and Mystikal for a couple of hit singles they decide to work with the likes of Britney Spears and *NSYNC. This eclectic mix of collaborators gives an explanation to N.E.R.D.'s unique sound which is unlike anything out right now.
Transcending their hip hop production skills as The Neptunes, N.E.R.D brings in the new funk with the rock on In Search Of... ready to start their own mosh pit and provide some potential club jams too.
Lapdance is fueled by a catchy chorus courtesy of Vita and is littered with heavy guitar and trippy vocals from Pharrell Williams, baseball bat in hand. Williams commands respect from the moment the track starts egging on any challengers.
"Iím just straight ill. Riding my motorcycle down the streets. While the government is sounding like strippers to me. They keep saying. But I donít want to hear it."
Lee Harvey guests on the track with rhymes you won't soon forget.
"When you think of Harvey. Think of a Harley. Blue denim, spike wrist and chromebie, lap screws and tattoos. Thatís all me, two girls both arms feeling like Fonzy."
With skittering beats and scratching records in the background, Williams, Harvey, and Vita instigate a rumble with lying politicians and anyone else brave enough to bring it. The result is a unique bout with society's imperfections to heavy drum beats and amped up guitar.
After taking it to the streets, N.E.R.D., Kelis, and Pusha T get together for a raunchy club romp not soon to be forgotten on Truth or Dare. Dares abound as the three mingle on the dance floor while ominous guitars screech and drums bump and grind.
Williams starts the dance as he calls out to anyone who is up for his dare.
"Me and my dogs will be there. Tell your girls prepare to share. Weíll play the dancing truth or dare. If someoneís standing there, stare say 'Hey baby whatís your name?' "
Kelis chants back with piercing vocals that start off soft as a whisper and end up as wails warning her suitors.
"I am the one with the brightest hair, leather I donít care. Baby I dare every want to take their shirts off. Thatís my dare. You got a girl but you touching me like you donít care, baby you. Do you? But just donít get caught out there."
Pusha T just lets it all hang out.
"Man, I got ten surrounding me, hounding me. Center of attention, a riot itís bound to be...Baby you can keep the truth, chose the dare."
Together they finish up together sending out one last invitation to play.
"Do you want to ride the train, welcome to the fast lane. If youíre in love beware Ďcause these people they donít care. All hands in the air. This is what we call truth or dare."
Forever treading in unfamiliar territory, N.E.R.D. takes the heavy rock vibe Spymob offers and mixes it with the fresh and creative vision of a band that pulls inspiration from all music past and present.
The rhythm on Baby Doll recalls something Austin Powers could have gotten groovy to as Williams croons to his wandering lover in desperation. Britney Spears notorious panting from The Neptunes' I'm A Slave 4 U open up the track over a steady drum beat that builds up slowly but surely.
"Roses are red, yellow, and white. Where have you been all my life? Violets are blue and Iíll be too if you leave. ĎCause I just met you."
N.E.R.D. is a group of guys who seem to be from the wrong side of the track but like being able to explore both sides as they please. Never do they discriminate in their music, offering their talent to anyone who will listen.
"Didnít you know I can help or hurt you?"
Am I High opens up with this question from Williams who exhibits a charm whether anyone thinks he has it or not. This funk infused anthem for a lovelorn guy trying to figure out what is going on becomes even more mystical with backing vocalists chanting like a gospel choir. The track is very mellow and driven by Williams' vocals as opposed to beats, highlighting his one of a kind vocal styling.
Somewhere between rhyme and reason, N.E.R.D. shares Bobby James as a cautionary tale anyone can relate to. Bobby is a typical teenager suffering all too familiar pain when he takes a chance on drugs. Soft guitars strum as Bobby scrounges around for pity after losing it all.
"Hi Iím 17 and my name is Bobby James. Everyday in school all my classmates call me names. And so this pusher introduced me to this thing. He said it makes you forget pain but makes you sing."
Williams eerie pleas share the reality in this dark tale and as the track closes flies buzz alluding to what may be a funeral service waiting to happen.
Stay Together is a final song that solidifies the talent of this new and upcoming trio. Pianos flow over Williams while he tells his woman how it is and how it shouldnít be.
ďYou were my sunrays. Without you girl there was no days. Never dreamt to speak the phraseÖYou were the heart I owned. The beat just like a metronome. Canít breathe my heart is gone.Ē
His pleas echo and abound amid the chaos in which Williams decides that maybe he doesnít need to stay together. This change of heart would certainly not be found in any contrived pop song and proves the potential of a new edition to the rogues gallery of movers and shakers in todayís pop culture.
Engaging and original, N.E.R.D.'s lyrics speak to the youth and encourage some good clean fun while trying to stop them from letting politicians and drugs drag them down. They have plenty to say and seem to be on a mission to make you think about more than how to shake it. In Search Of... is a journey N.E.R.D. leads you on that many artists started but never finished and this should be an album no one will soon forget.
Jeremy Muniz is a contributing writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.