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on November 2, 2010
N.E.R.D. has been through a lot since 2001, when their debut album came out of nowhere to be proclaimed a classic amongst their cult fans as well as critics. But they never really took shape in the mainstream. Every album since the first has attempted to get more and more into the pop ranks, with only some success. Their last album, Seeing Sounds, seemed to make the most effort in doing so. However, among the cult following and critics alike, Seeing Sounds was said to be their worst effort out of the three. So, Nothing could have either pushed that "pop" sound more or it could have taken from what worked with the first album, In Search of... Luckily for fans new and old, N.E.R.D. decided to take their creativeness to new heights, with polished, yet not over-saturated music. We have a new classic on our hands.

Track by Track

1. Party People f/T.I. 4/5 - This track sets off the record, but does not give it a sense as to where the album's direction will go. It is a feel good, "let go" type of track that gets you moving, but seems more for the dance floor that it is for your headphones. Nevertheless, it is a well put together track. Their second official single added T.I. to add some star power

2. Hypnotize U 4/5 - A very mellow track that comes surprisingly after a fast paced dance track. Hypnotize U tells a story of appreciation toward the females. Pharrell goes all out on his falsetto belts which will remind most of his first solo single "Frontin'" years back. It's a great track with a memorable beat.

3. Help Me 5/5 - Shae and Pharrell were quoted as saying that this record had a lot of influences, one being, The Doors. Help Me is the song they were talking about. It has The Doors dripping off of it. Some might be scared of that idea, but the track comes off very well. It is one of the best on the album. The lyrics will even remind many of Jim Morrison's poetic style. It's something that N.E.R.D. has never really delved into as much as they do on this track.

4. Victory 5/5 - This is an inspiring song that will have almost anybody want to get off the couch and do something with their lives. It will remind some of a track that might eventually make it onto the NBA finals or Superbowl advertising commercials, but don't spoil it for yourself. Take the song for what it is supposed to be and not what it is most likely going to end up. Another lyrical gem for N.E.R.D. Their second album, Fly or Die, is ressurected a bit in the sense of subject matter.

5. Perfect Defect 4/5 - Another uptempo track that's central meaning is the appreciation of a female. The track speeds up and is accentuated by a bridge that leads to a very catchy chorus. Shae comes in towards the end to offer his own contribution the song, which is short, but adds a lot.

6. I've Seen the Light / Inside of Clouds 5/5 - This is a track which is divided into two separate songs. I've Seen the Light is a track which uses a sample that has been used before, but it fits N.E.R.D. like an old favorite T-shirt. The clap in the bass line restrains its potential to be a sappy, slow Jazz song. But again, lyrically, it stands above a lot of other material. Inside of Clouds has been called an instant classic by many fans and critics alike. It reminds me of something straight off of their debut album, along the same sound as Bobby James (a favorite among the cult followers of N.E.R.D.). It has a very nostalgic sound.

7. God Bless Us All 5/5 - N.E.R.D. has been known to "talk to the kids." And this track does it well. It sends a message to the young and lost who might have gone through a lot of negative experiences in their life. Experiences which have lead them to not believe in a higher being or meaning to life. "I bet this song won't make sense to you/with the weight on your shoulders, what can you see?/God blessed us all with the gift to pursue." A very good track. Again, when this could have been a sappy or corny song, N.E.R.D. turns it into a listenable track that can be repeated.

8. Life As a Fish 3/5 - This is another song that is heavily saturated with meaningful lyrics, but almost too much. It is slower than most of the tracks with no punching bassline that resides in other lyrical tracks. Life As a Fish seems to display Pharrell's (or possibly the band's) feelings about Jesus and God in a Christian sense. Listen yourself to decifer the lyrics. It might just be me. At any rate, the song seems out of place a bit because it is almost too slow for it's own good. It's still a track not to skip however.

9. Nothing On You 5/5 - R&B has been something that N.E.R.D. has dipped into a bit, especially on their last effort (Seeing Sounds), however, this track is probably the closest we will get to R&B. It comes across as a Justin Timberlake track from Justified, in that the tempo is great and the chorus is very effective. One of my favorite (dance tracks) on the album. Shae's verse sticks out to me the most. Single worthy.

10. Hot-N-Fun 4/5 - The first official single off the album that seems to be a bit old now that the official album has arrived. Nelly Furtado offers herself on the chorus and bridge, yet with all due respect, it could have anybody. Most fans would have wished for Kelis, an old N.E.R.D. label mate to have made an appearance on this track. It's a dance record. Lyrically, it doesn't offer anything special. Pharrell sings admittingly, "nobody wants to think anymore/they want to feel/they want to let go."

11. It's In the Air 4/5 - This is the most heavily political track on the album. It starts off with a rant from an unnamed politician at some sort of meeting. It does offer a sort of jazzy/blues feel to it that is appealing. However, the track itself is less entertaining than it is thought provoking. So if you are not in the mood to think, this track is not for you. It's haunting feel showcases the lyrics well.

12. Sacred Temple 5/5 - Another upbeat track that will sound perfect live. The thumping of the bassline is effective. Most fans will hear labelmate Kenna among the chorus and the beat seems something that Kenna would have chose for his own album. Lyrically, again, The Doors seem to be the influence. It's a great track - very infectious.

13. I Wanna Jam 5/5 - This is a track one can hear at any dance party or club. The classic, jump rock that N.E.R.D. has been known before in the past (Fly or Die). This track appeals to the young and energetic that just want to have fun and jam. Pharrell's lyrics "life makes me horny" will stick out the most lyrically. Other than that, this track is not supposed to make you think too much of the lyrics.

14. The Man 4/5 - Another track with political undertones. It's more of a slow talked track, but with a classic Neptunes beat. The chorus suffers slightly to me, due to the repeated "don't it feel good," but it doesn't ruin the song. Weird background sounds (life a horse) is sprinkled throughout, leading it be somewhat of an eccentric track. Shae once again delivers a great verse - something that make up some of the best parts of the album. A great track.

All in all, there are no skippable tracks on the album. 14 songs that seperate themselves form one another to make the most well rounded N.E.R.D. album that has came out. It is classic N.E.R.D. but adds a new synergy. It perfectly balances between indie rock, pop and hip-hop. It's what Seeing Sounds was supposed to be. A must buy for any fan of creative music that makes you dance and think while appreciating the beat. Incredible music.
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on June 5, 2013
i love N.E.R.D <3 i go to their concert everytime they are in the Boston or New England area. I have all their CDs. I got this for under $5, which includes the immediate Amazon Streaming. i recommend it. Although their first album will always be my favorite. this is one great too. Pharrell is just amazing and talented
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on August 19, 2011
I will always support and purchase N.E.R.D albums because I'm a huge fan, but this album was a disappointment. Maybe it's partly nostalgia but nothing will compare to their first album. There are a handful of songs that I could listen to everyday (I've Seen the Light, Hypnotize U, God Bless Us All, Life as a Fish), but some of the others I still haven't played all the way through. I would have been better off just buying the songs I like individually.
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on January 9, 2011
This album felt like a classic as soon as it started playing. Drenched in soul, love, and a constantly simmering anger towards the establishment.
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on July 19, 2012
This album is the definition of getting slept on. It's a good one too, if you don't listen to expecting it to be another In Search Of... like most people do. Don't buy this thinking you're going to hear 10-15 [depending on what version you buy] new smash hits produced by The Neptunes, because this is not an album by The Neptunes...this is N*E*R*D. A lot of these songs are influenced by classic rock and funk music and aren't about pleasing the masses who listen to Top 40 radio. If you have an eclectic taste in music then I would without a doubt recommend this album to you. Pay the few extra few bucks and get the Deluxe Version, because the added songs are just as good as the first 10 songs on the album. As long as you go into this knowing this isn't an album by The Neptunes and not comparing it to another N*E*R*D album then listening should be an enjoyable experience.
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on March 21, 2011
There were barely enough tracks on this album that I liked to encourage me to purchase it and after listening to the whole thing I don't feel it was worth the $10. I can't think of a time when I would listen to 90% of these songs again and not want to turn them off.
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on November 3, 2011
While the Neptunes have wildly successful as producers, their career as performers haven't been as fortunate. As the trio N.E.R.D., they have made great albums, but remained critical darlings for most of their career. It all started for them in 2001 with their debut "In Search Of..."- an album that was originally based in their trademark sound, but was scrapped and delayed for several months due to them reworking the album to include live instrumentation. They had a couple of modest hits with the singles "Rockstar" and the catchy "Lapdance". A couple of years later they released the sophomore LP- the heavier "Fly Or Die". While the album got good reviews, it suffered from two things: a lack of promotion on behalf of their then-label Virgin Records and a subsequent disbanding. They wanted out of their contract with Virgin, so to bide the time they focused on other projects- namely Pharrell Williams' solo debut "In My Mind" and Chad Hugo producing Kenna's sophomore effort "Make Sure They See My Face". In 2008, they returned with their third album the gargage rock influenced "Seeing Sounds" released on their label Star Trak Entertainment through a new distribution deal with Interscope Records. In 2010, they released their second project on their own label- the experimental fourth album "Nothing".

On this new album they work with a few surprise guests- T.I. on the opening track "Party People", Nelly Furtado on the first single "Hot-N-Fun" and Daft Punk producing the heavily synthesized "Hypnotize U". They channel the psychedelic rock sound on the ballad "Help Me" as well as "I've Seen The Light". They get inspirational on the Queen influenced "Victory" and uplift a woman's self esteem on the dance rocker "Perfect Defect". They offer words of hope on the mariachi influenced "God Bless Us All" and compliment a beautiful woman on "Nothing On You". While the compact disc is listed with ten songs, the vinyl version has four extra songs added in the pressing. The extra tracks listed are the political "It's In The Air"- complete with a jazz influence, "Sacred Temple" with brief N.E.R.D. member Rhea Dummett, "I Wanna Jam" (The first song in which Shae Haley receives a writing credit) and closing out the album with the rock heavy "The Man". Overall, N.E.R.D.'s "Nothing" is a good record, but could have been better if it was more focused in the production area. Still in all, it's listenable record from the Virginia trio in their decade long recording career.
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on August 28, 2011
This is the latest of N.E.R.D.'s four main albums. It has some good songs, even a couple of excellent songs. "Hypnotize U" is the song that made me look into N.E.R.D. in the first place. This album takes a significant nosedive in its 2nd half. Their first album ("In Search Of...") remains the best one, "Seeing Sounds" the worst one, and "Fly Or Die" the most comparable to this one in overall quality (but FOD bears a closer resemblance to Red Hot Chili Peppers). On the whole, the band is good but not great.
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on December 12, 2010
N.E.R.D. has always been a band I've respected. Not only for their diverse and distinct sound, but for the fact that they never pack it in. Pop rock band Spymob provided backing instruments for their debut classic In Search of. But shortly after that Pharrell and Chad learned to play all the instruments so that they could play these songs when they wanted to and how they wanted to, forging a very different sound than their production team The Neptunes. And so the sound of N.E.R.D. is born.

Another relatively classic CD followed, Fly Or Die, and the legend of N.E.R.D. was fully realized. Anticipation was high for their third album, which took four years to be released, but, sadly, it didn't live up to the anticipation. Seeing Sounds is not a bad release in any stretch of the imagination, but it's not as good as the first two and really suffers as the album progresses. There's no 'Rock Star' or 'Stay Together' found to close out the album or 'Maybe' or 'The Way She Dances' to keep you listening. There's only the likes of 'Love Bomb' and 'Laugh About It', nowhere in the same vein as the closing tracks on the other releases. But all that's been expunged with the release of Nothing.

Nothing is another classic in the same vein as In Search of and Fly Or Die. Remarkable in its original sound and consistency. It certainly makes up for the lackluster bits found in Seeing Sounds. Here's my track by track analysis of each song.

1. Party People 5/5 - the perfect anthem to get you going. All doubts about the quality of the release are gone a few bars into this gem.
2. Hypnotize U 4/5 - a very good song that only suffers from the slow tempo of the track.
3. Help Me 5/5 - another great song that works its way into you. Not as impressive on first listen but keeps you coming back for more.
4. Victory 4/5 - a good message track. Works into you much like Help Me but it doesn't keep you coming back as that track did.
5. Perfect Defect 4/5 - another classic N.E.R.D. track that makes you feel at home.
6. I've Seen the Light/Inside of Clouds (Interlude) 5/5 - definitely the highlight of the first half. This and the next track are my absolute favorites. Even with the somewhat familiar structure.
7. God Bless Us All 5/5 - N.E.R.D. doing what it does best. So different from most anything from their first three CD's. Definite favorite.
8. Life As A Fish 3/5 - could be my least favorite track on the album, it's more religious than the others but the biggest problem I find with this track is it's slowed down and forgetful nature.
9. Nothing On You 5/5 - a fast paced song that makes you want to get up and dance.
10. Hot-n-Fun 5/5 - the overall sound is great, plus the use of an advert from Old Spice makes the song worthwhile
11. It's In the Air 3/5 - the first of the bonus tracks, it's definitely political and that the biggest suffer. It suffers in the same vein as Life as a Fish. Both songs take a touchy subject and spend too much time crafting a song about that subject.
12. Sacred Temple 4/5 - a different N.E.R.D. sound much like God Bless Us All but not as memorable
13. I Wanna Jam 4/5 - the classic N.E.R.D. sound that, for one, jams, but doesn't do it enough to make me get up and move.
14. The Man 4/5 - a good closing track (unless you count the bonus song). Good, but not great. the use of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Expanded) theme and the horses give it a different flavor.
15. Fuego (Bonus Track) 5/5 - a great, fast, rhythmic, upbeat song. The energy on this song makes it one of my absolute favorites on the CD.

Highly recommended, if you're a N.E.R.D. fan you should already have this. If you like good, different, distinct music, go out and pick this up.
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on November 22, 2010
N.E.R.D's fourth album "Nothing" finds the eccentric trio of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shae Haley (aka the production group The Neptunes) having come full circle, battle tested from their 10-year journey as a band. "Nothing" is a return to the classic N.E.R.D sound from "In Search Of," combined with the live rock feel of "Fly or Die," and highlighted by the electronica of "Seeing Sounds."

The 10-track, 36 minute LP (the deluxe edition includes four additional tracks) is N.E.R.D's most complete album to date. Its cohesiveness, along with its more mature, calmer tone imbues the album with a simple yet rich quality. The two songs that bookend the album shine as the obvious singles, but the remaining eight tracks confidently chain these bookends together, expressing one comprehensive thought.

The funky, house inspired "Hot and Fun," featuring Nelly Furtado, is one of two radio-friendly songs and is in fact the lead single. The second single finds southern rapper TI reuniting with The Neptunes (check for TI's first album "I'm Serious") on the upbeat club anthem "Party People."

The rest of the album seamlessly varies in tempo and tone from track to track. While many of the tracks employ a more serious, classic style, the music never comes off pretentious or self-conscious. Williams croons about his love for the opposite sex like only he can, but he also sings a motivational anthem for Chris Brown on the charismatic "God Bless Us All." Other stand outs include the insatiable anthem "Victory" and the environmentally conscious, yet entertaining "Life as a Fish."

Every track is produced by The Neptunes, with the exception of "Hypnotize U," which features a mid-tempo, spacey contribution from the French duo Daft Punk. With Williams' Prince-like vocals, the song fits superbly into the album. Throughout the album, there is also a strong presence of brass provided by trumpeter Jason Carder, and the saxophone, is played by none other than Hugo himself.

All but two of the tracks are co-written by Williams and Hugo. N.E.R.D's label head, Interscope's Jimmy Iovine, even lends his penmanship to the jazz influenced "Help Me," where Williams sings, "See those war machines out there? A pact with your karma, do you care?"

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