Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Planting the Seeds of a N.E.R.D. Comeback

By Evan Rytlewski
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Although their days of being guaranteed hitmakers may be behind them, the Neptunes production team has had a surprisingly long run. A decade after their beats cracked the charts, they continue to work with just about every big-name rapper and pop star in the industry.

By comparison, N.E.R.D., the funk-rock band spearheaded by the Neptunes, was a flash in the pan. The group cut one outstanding, mildly popular 2002 record, In Search Of..., then disappeared after a lackluster follow-up, 2004's Fly or Die.

After the commercial failure of Pharrell Williams' unloved solo debut, In My Mind, it seemed as if the public had spoken: They still liked Neptunes beats well enough, but they had tired of Pharrell as a star. The days of Pharrell cameos in every other music video were over. The Neptunes continued to earn paychecks producing songs for just about every major hip-hop release, but these songs were no longer singles.

It's heartening to see that instead of resigning themselves to fading away, however, Pharrell and company have made one more push for the limelight. He got the old band back together, and this month N.E.R.D. returned with a ridiculously catchy leaked singled, "Everyone Nose." With its shout-along hook, sax and double-bass beat and showy piano breakdown, this is vintage N.E.R.D., equal parts Three 6 Mafia and Steely Dan. Even without an official video, the track won over the Internet in the last week, lighting up blogs and whetting appetites for the group's forthcoming disc, N*3*R*D. In the coming months, the group with join Lupe Fiasco and Rihanna for Kanye West's "Glow in the Dark" tour, which almost certainly won't stop in Milwaukee. In the meantime, though, here's one of those makeshift fan videos for "Everyone Nose."



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