The Neptunes
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The Neptunes

The Neptunes is an American production duo composed of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. Williams often provides additional vocals on records as well as appears in music videos, unlike Hugo, who tends to stay behind the scenes.

The Neptunes are considered one of the most successful producers in music history, noted by twenty-four Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits during the late 1990s and 2000s.[2] In 2009, Billboard ranked The Neptunes number one on their list of the top 10 producers of the decade.[3] In 2019, The Neptunes were nominated to the Songwriters Hall of Fame as a part of the 2020 class.[4]

History

Williams and Hugo met at a summer camp for the school of The Gifted and Talented in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where Williams was a drummer and Hugo played tenor saxophone.[5] They were also both members of a marching band; Williams played snare drum and Hugo was a student conductor. In 1990, Williams and Hugo formed a 4-piece "R&B type" group along with friends Shay and Mike Etheridge, which they named The Neptunes. Upon entering a local talent contest, they were discovered by Teddy Riley, whose studio was close to Williams' school.[6] After graduating from high school, they signed with Riley as a group.[7]

Through working with Riley, Williams went on to write a verse for Wreckx-N-Effect's 1992 song "Rump Shaker".[] In 1994, Williams and Hugo had established themselves formally as a production duo under the previously used name The Neptunes, and assistant-produced "Tonight's The Night" from Teddy Riley's group BLACKstreet's self-titled debut. Over the next three years they continued to produce occasionally. Some of the production, such as for SWV (1996) and Total (1996), had little resemblance to what would become their distinctive sound, while other songs such as Mase's 1998 song "Lookin' at Me" (from the Harlem World album, 1997) showed clear signs the Neptunes sound was developing.[]

Their first major production hit, and the most clear beginning of the distinctive Neptunes sound, came with N.O.R.E.'s "Superthug" in 1998, reaching #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, and gaining them widespread attention for the first time.[] The duo then went on to work heavily with Kelis, producing her first album Kaleidoscope which was the duo's first full album production and Ol' Dirty Bastard's record "Got Your Money", on which Kelis is featured. They achieved huge commercial success with tracks like Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)", Mystikal's "Shake Ya Ass", and then-newly renamed Diddy's single "D.I.D.D.Y". Other notable hits during their commercial rise were Busta Rhymes' "Pass the Courvoisier, Part II", Usher's "U Don't Have to Call" and Foxy Brown's "Candy".

Kelis was one of several artists whose careers Hugo and Williams have helped launch; artists such as the Clipse, Vanessa Marquez and Justin Timberlake's solo career were also closely tied to the Neptunes' involvement. They have also helped re-launch the careers of Snoop Dogg, Robin Thicke and Mystikal.

In 2001, The Neptunes gained their first worldwide hit with Britney Spears' single, "I'm A Slave 4 U", which reached number one in several countries in Europe and South America. The following year they reached number one in the U.S. with Nelly's single, "Hot in Herre". In August of the same year, The Neptunes were named "Producers of the Year" at both The Source Awards and the Billboard Music Awards.[]

In 2003, they released a self-credited album called The Neptunes Present... Clones, featuring songs and remixes from various Star Trak artists. This album topped the US Billboard 200 Albums Chart.

The Neptunes won Grammy Awards in 2004, one for "Producer of the Year, Non-Classical", and another for "Best Pop Vocal Album" for their work on Justin Timberlake's debut studio album, Justified. They also gained their first UK number one, again with Nelly, and "Flap Your Wings".[]

Other ventures

Star Trak

The Neptunes' record label, Star Trak Entertainment, includes acts such as Clipse, Snoop Dogg, Slim Thug and Robin Thicke. Star Trak artists generally benefit from more frequent production from The Neptunes, however, criticisms include poor promotion and release scheduling. Former artists include (due to parent label disputes) Kelis.

N.E.R.D

The alternative group N.E.R.D is composed of Williams, Hugo and Shay Haley. It is a backronym[] of No One Ever Really Dies. Their group hits include "Lapdance", "Rock Star" and "She Wants To Move". The first two singles came from their debut album In Search Of... released in 2001, while the latter came from their eagerly anticipated follow-up Fly Or Die in 2004. The band released a third album, Seeing Sounds, on June 10, 2008 and released their fourth studio album, Nothing, on November 2, 2010. They released their latest album, No One Ever Really Dies in 2017.

Williams as a solo artist

In 2003, Williams released his first solo single, "Frontin'" featuring Jay-Z. At the time he claimed it was a one-off song, and that he was not a singer in his own right. However, after several delays, Pharrell released his debut solo album on July 24, 2006, titled In My Mind. The first single from the album was a collaboration with Gwen Stefani titled "Can I Have It Like That", released in 2005. The album featured numerous guests, including Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Slim Thug, and Kanye West. In 2014, he released his second album G I R L, which featured the hit single "Happy".

Discography

Albums

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
U.S.
[8]
U.S. R&B
[8]
CAN
[8]
The Neptunes Present... Clones 1 1 7
"--" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles

List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
U.S. Hot 100
[10]
U.S. R&B
[11][12]
U.S. Rap[13]
"Frontin'"
(featuring Jay-Z)
2003 5 1 -- Clones
"Light Your Ass on Fire"
(featuring Busta Rhymes)
69 23 12
"It Blows My Mind"
(featuring Snoop Dogg)
-- 68 --
"Hot Damn"
(featuring Clipse)
-- 58 --
"Pomegranate"
(with deadmau5)
2020 --
"--" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Awards and nominations

The Neptunes awards and nominations
Totals[a]
Wins6
Nominations18
Note
  1. ^ Certain award groups do not simply award one winner. They recognize several different recipients, have runners-up and have third place. Since this is a specific recognition and is different from losing an award, runner-up mentions are considered wins in this award tally. For simplification and to avoid errors, each award in this list has been presumed to have had a prior nomination.

The duo has received numerous awards, such as from the Grammy Awards, where they were nominated every year from 2004 to 2007. The Neptunes have received three Grammy Awards: "Producer of the Year, Non-Classical", "Best Pop Vocal Album" for Justified and "Best Rap Song" for "Money Maker". Overall, The Neptunes have received six awards from eighteen nominations.

Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards

The Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards are sponsored by Billboard magazine and held annually in December.[14][15][16]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2002 The Neptunes Songwriter of the Year Nominated
Producer of the Year Nominated
2003 The Neptunes Songwriter of the Year Nominated
Producer of the Year Won
2004 The Neptunes Producer of the Year Nominated
2009 The Neptunes Producer of the Decade Won

Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States.[17][18][19][20]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2004 The Neptunes Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Won
Justified Best Pop Vocal Album Won
"Frontin'" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated
"Beautiful" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated
Best Rap Song Nominated
"Excuse Me Miss" Best Rap Song Nominated
2005 "Drop It Like It's Hot" Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
Best Rap Song Nominated
2006 The Neptunes Producer of the Year Nominated
2006 "The Emancipation of MiMi" Best Contemporary R&B Album Won
2007 "Money Maker" Best Rap Song Won
In My Mind Best Rap Album Nominated

References

  1. ^ "Pharrell Williams". Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "Panache Report". Panache Report. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ |title=Billboard's Top 10 Producers Of The Decade | RealTalkNY |publisher=Realtalkny.uproxx.com |date= |accessdate=October 31, 2011
  4. ^ https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/8542745/songwriters-hall-of-fame-nominated-neptunes-outkast-rem
  5. ^ CBS Sunday Morning (April 13, 2014). "Pharrell Williams on meeting his Neptunes partner Chad Hugo".
  6. ^ "Chad Hugo: Rock Star Archived May 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, an interview with Yolk Magazine, 2002
  7. ^ "Neptunes production techniques; an interview with Chad Hugo" on hiphopgame.com, from the December 2003 issue of 'Sound & Recording'
  8. ^ a b c "The Neptunes Present... Clones - The Neptunes". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ "RIAA - Searchable Database: Neptunes". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ "The Neptunes Album & Song Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ "The Neptunes Album & Song Chart History: R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2011.
  12. ^ References for "It Blows My Mind" and "Hot Damn":
  13. ^ "The Neptunes Album & Song Chart History: Rap Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2011.
  14. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 22, 2003. Retrieved 2008.
  15. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 2, 2003. Retrieved 2008.
  16. ^ "Finalists & Winners". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 3, 2004. Retrieved 2008.
  17. ^ "46th Grammy Awards - 2004". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 2008.
  18. ^ "47th Grammy Awards - 2005". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 2008.
  19. ^ "48th Grammy Awards - 2006". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 2008.
  20. ^ "49th Grammy Awards - 2007". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 2008.

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