Before I start, it must be pointed out that there are two versions of this album. Although both have the same songs, they are very different albums. The one I am reviewing is the re-released version, which came out in 2002 on Virgin Records. The picture above is for illustration only and is not the cover for this album, but the older version.
N*E*R*D consists of three members – Shay, Chad Hugo and Pharell Williams, the latter two making up the hit production team ‘The Neptunes’. The name Neptunes may automatically put many listeners off – they are not liked by all, but stick with this album, it doesn’t disappoint.
The original version of the album was released in 2001, and had the signature ‘Neptunes’ sound throughout. In my opinion, the album had highlights, but was no more than average. Album sales reflected this poor quality, and so the artists went back into the studio. The result is this new re-released version. With the same album title, tracks, guest appearances and lyrics – what has changed?
The only thing that is different is the production. On this version, all music and sounds are played by live instruments. This helps take away the familiar Neptunes sounds and turn this album into a very solid release. You would be amazed at the difference in quality between the two releases, and although this version has a more of a ‘rock’ feel to it (due to real drums and guitars being used), it never loses its hip hop and rap roots.
Lyrics are sung and rapped mostly by Pharell who does a good job throughout. Guest appearances include Vita, Kelis, Clipse and Lee Harvey. It is hard on this version to pull out any highlights as the whole album is banging from start to finish, but some people will have heard of ‘Lapdance’, ‘Provider’ and ‘Rock Star’. These in my opinion are not the hottest tracks on the album.
I was suprised how much I liked this version, as the production is closer to rock/Indie than the original release, but it compliments the songs well.
Don’t ignore this album just because you are not Neptunes fans. This is completely out of character than the usual stuff they do, and will be listened to for years to come – unlike some of their production.
Not everyone will like this album though. Steer clear if you are after top class lyrics (there’s nothin special lyrical-wise), steer clear if you detest live instrumentation, and steer clear if the thought of Pharell singing makes you cringe.
However what you do have here is an easy-listening album which you can just slap on and leave playing as there are no filler tracks here. I wouldn’t buy the version you see illustrated at the top of the page, but this 2002 re-release comes highly recommended – certainly one of the highlights of 2002.
Score = 4/5