Responsible for some of the biggest anthems in all of music for the last 15 years, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo met at a summer camp for the school of The Gifted and Talented in Virginia Beach, where Williams was a drummer and Hugo played tenor saxophone,
They got their big break in 1998 with N.O.R.E’s cell-phone ringing classic “Superthug”, and well, the rest is history.
Justin Timberlake, Kelis, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Jay-Z, the list just goes on and on and on.
Here’s some of our all-time favourite productions from the duo.
1) N.O.R.E. – Nothin’
Although “Superthug” was the beginning of their rise, the 2002 smash hit “Nothin'” cemented them as the Hip-Hop world’s go to guys, with the track’s undeniable bounce and warped flute rhythm causing mass hysteria in clubs everywhere.
2) Jay-Z – I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
After the release of his classic 1996 album “Reasonable Doubt”, Hov was under serious pressure to follow it up.
As a result, Jay brought out some solid releases which kept him going for the rest of the 90s, but staleness was beginning to appear.
The same ol’ boom-bap style hip-hop provided him with some memorable singles, but something was needed to freshen up the overall sound.
Enter Williams and Hugo, giving Jay this shuffling lil beast of a beast and having Pharrell sing the iconic “I’m a hustla baby” line.
Jigga was back in a big way.
3) Clipse – Grindin’
Lawdy. If this one didn’t get you banging on lunch tables during break at school then nothing would have.
Clipse, a.k.a. Pusha T and No Malice, were rising stars in the late 90s, being signed by Pharrell on his “Star Trak” label and put out their early noughties classic “Lord Willin'”. With production exclusively handled by the Neptunes, the LP was a hotbed of off-kiter rhythms and manic synths and some big singles (“Ma, I Don’t Love Her” and “When Was The Last Time” garnered significant air-time).
However, it was this head knockin’ single “Grindin'” that sent everyone wild and is the group’s biggest song to date. Man when that kick came snaking in at a house party, you knew shit was about to go down.
4) Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Got Your Money
Proof that they could give just about anyone a hit, Williams and Hugo got together with the late, great ODB and Kelis and handed them this gem of a club banger, thrusting ODB onto daytime radio for the first time since he featured on Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and giving Kelis a massive platform to become the success story she is today.
5) Snoop Dogg – Drop It Like It’s Hot
No more needs to be said about this one.
6) Usher – You Don’t Have To Call
Probably our favourite Usher track ever, it won him his second consecutive Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2003, due in part to The Neptunes’ spaced out landing ship of a beat, sounding like the mating call of a lonely alien.
And that’s a compliment don’t get us wrong.
7) Busta Rhymes – Light Ya Ass On Fire
Pure screwface every time this beat drops.
Those warped, lightsaber style electronic stabs and slinging guitar lines were so weird 12 years ago, but that’s what made The Neptunes so innovative. They could make you dance to anything.
8) Ludacris – Southern Hospitality
Luda in his prime was a sight to behold. Manic, witty, hilarious and aggressive. Teaming with The Neptunes just had to happen and the result was just bumpin’.
A big hit from his 2000 album “Back For The First Time”, this was the definition of blast-it-in-your-whip low-rider music for the noughties.
9) Justin Timberlake – Senorita
Laaaadies and Gentlemeeennn.
As if JT wasn’t enough of a heart-throb, along came Pharrell and Chad to hand him panty-dropper anthem of massive proportions.
A sultry, charming serenading Timberlake sends everyone into orbit with his unique take on love, with The Neptunes’ juicy, salsa-like production warming your feet.
10) Nelly – Hot In Herre
Praised. Loved. Hated. Ridiculed.
Cheesy? Aged Badly?
That’s up to you to decide for yourselves. But this was undeniably one of THE biggest hits of the decade, with The Neptunes’ signature style all over it.
Some Honourable Mentions:
Mystikal – Shake Ya Ass
Kelis – Caught Out There
Baby – What Happened To That Boy
P. Diddy – D.I.D.D.Y.