N.E.R.D is an American rock, funk and hip hop band. Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo were signed by Teddy Riley to Virgin Records as a duo, The Neptunes. After producing songs for several artists throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the production duo formed the band with Shay Haley as a side project of The Neptune in 2001. N.E.R.D's debut album, In Search Of..., sold 603,000 copies in the United States and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It was also awarded the second annual Shortlist Music Prize. The band's second album, Fly or Die, sold 412,000 copies in the United States and was certified Gold by the RIAA.
In 2005, N.E.R.D ended their contract with Virgin and disbanded. Three years later, the band reunited under Star Trak Entertainment, a subsidiary of Interscope Records established by Williams and Hugo. The band's third album, Seeing Sounds, sold 80,000 copies in its first week.
Formation and early career
Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo met at the ages of 12 at a summer camp for musicians, which they both disliked. They spent their free time making beats and performing in groups with fellow childhood friend Timbaland. Williams and Hugo met Shay Haley in high school and began performing together. The trio often met in Hugo's garage, where he beatboxed through a speaker system while Haley danced. After watching the duo perform at a high school talent show, Teddy Riley, a musician and producer, signed Williams and Hugo in 1992. After producing songs for several artists throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the production duo formed N.E.R.D (an acronym for No one Ever Really Dies) in 2001 as a side project.
2001?2002: In Search Of...
The band's debut album, In Search Of..., was released in Europe in September 2001. The album was produced by The Neptunes; they used similar digital production techniques as they did for other artists. However, the band decided that they wanted to sound different from their production. This led them to rerecording the album using live instruments with rock band Spymob for a worldwide release in 2002. The album debuted at number 61 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number 56. It failed to replicate the success of The Neptunes' previous productions. The album won the second annual Shortlist Music Prize, an accolade awarded to albums released in the United States that have not achieved mainstream success and have sales of 500,000 copies or less at the time of nomination. The album sold 603,000 copies in the United States and was certified Gold by the RIAA.
The album's lead single, "Lapdance", peaked at number 36 of the Hot Rap Tracks chart and number 85 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The second single, "Rock Star", peaked at number 36 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. A 6.1 surround mix of this album was released by DTS Entertainment on a DVD-Audio disc in 2005. The original version of the album is a collectors' item.
2003?2004: Fly or Die
N.E.R.D performing at a United Kingdom concert in April 2003
The band recorded its second album, Fly or Die, in 2003. They learned to play the songs live, as Chad Hugo told MTV News on December 9, 2003: "We're the ones playing the instruments live this time. I just started playing guitar last year so I'm learning as we go. Pharrell's playing drums. we didn't have time to learn certain instruments so we got Spymob to help us out."
Fly or Die was released in March 2004. The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, selling 119,000 copies in its first week. The album sold 412,000 copies in the United States and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The first single, "She Wants to Move", has gone top 5 in the United Kingdom, top 20 in Norway, Ireland, and Denmark, and top 40 in Australia and the Netherlands. The music videos for "She Wants to Move" and its follow up single, "Maybe", have received strong support from the digital cable network VH1 Soul in America.
2005?present: Hiatus and Seeing Sounds
In 2005, N.E.R.D ended their contract with Virgin Records over a label dispute and the band disbanded. While touring, the band became "hooked" on the energy from their fans, which led them to begin recording their third studio album, spending their own money while still unsigned. Williams and Hugo later established Star Trak Entertainment, a subsidiary of Interscope Records.
In March 2008, the band performed at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. While there they filmed a PSA for Rock the Vote saying why they thought voting was important and the issues they cared about that election year.
From April to June 2008, the band toured with Kanye West as an opening act along with Rihanna and Lupe Fiasco as part of the Glow in the Dark Tour. On June 13, they gave an energetic performance at the Isle of Wight festival on the small island of the same name off the coast of England. They almost missed their scheduled show because they didn't know where the island was. On June 25, they performed in front of 40,000 people at the Isle of MTV 2008 at the Floriana granaries, Malta with free admission. On August 9, 2008, the band played at the Way Out West music festival held in the city park of Gothenburg, Sweden. In September 2008, N.E.R.D performed to a sold-out crowd at the House of Blues in Chicago, and brought special guest Bad Brains onstage.
N.E.R.D released their third studio album, Seeing Sounds in June 2008. The first single off the album, titled "Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)", was first mentioned on their Billionaire Boys Club blog in January 2008. The second single off the album, titled "Spaz", was used in a TV commercial for the Microsoft Zune.
The band's sound generally contains elements of rock, funk and hip hop, while also encompassing R&B and pop. Though the band rarely samples from other songs, the European release of their debut album, In Search Of..., relied heavily on sampling. They have been praised for their heavy use of electronic, bass and funk beats, while others have suggested that The Neptunes are unable to blend R&B and rock.
N.E.R.D's lyrics have been criticized. Ian Cohen of Pitchfork Media called the band's writing ability "far down the list of what N.E.R.D is actually good at", where Williams is often criticized for being excessively sexual. With the release of Fly or Die, the album was advertised in Kerrang! magazine, which made Alexis Petridis of The Guardian feel that N.E.R.D's lyrics tried to "empathize with the alienated teenagers who make up Kerrang!s readership".
Typically whilst performing live at Glastonbury, England (June 2009), they arrived late for their set and on their final song "Everyone Nose" the stage manager turned off the power because they over ran. The band stepped down from the stage and on to the front stands, continuing to sing the song with the crowd.
Pharrell Williams - lead vocals, piano/keyboards, rhythm guitar, percussion
Chad Hugo - lead guitar, piano/keyboards, saxophone, bass guitar
Shay Haley - drums, percussion, backing vocals
All N.E.R.D. lyrics
- Am I High
- Am I High (feat. Malice)
- Baby Doll
- Backseat Love
- Bobby James
- Chariot Of Fire
- Don't Worry About It
- Drill Sergeant
- Find My Way
- Fly Or Die
- Jump Feat. Joel Madden And Benji Madden
- Loser (feat. Clipse)
- Rock Star
- Rock Star Poser
- Run To The Sun
- She Wants To Move
- Stay Together
- Tape You
- The Way She Dances
- Things Are Getting Better
- Truth Or Dare
- What's Wrong With Me
- Wonderful Place
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.