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Pharrell - In My Mind...

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, August 18, 2006
Things don't always seem to work out when an artist decides they have had enough of being in a group and decide to go solo. Just look at Wu-Tang, none of the guys have really had an impact apart from the limited success of Ghostface.

Sadly Pharrell Williams has found it's not so easy to find success as a solo star. After he made Frontin from the also disappointing Clones album, he said he would never go the solo route. He may now be wishing he kept that word.

In My Mind has been pushed back so much that it's been eight months or so since Can I Have It Like That made us think he could actually pull off this whole Skateboard P moniker. Throw in a bit more of that and I was actually looking forward to his premise of half R'n'B half Rap material.

Sadly the longer it went on and with Pharrell in a better label situation than his Virginia buddies The Clipse, it looked as though it was a case of material not being up to par - rather than label politics.

Was he finding it hard to recreate the Neptunes formula without his partner in beats Chad Hugo? Is Chad the main guy behind the success while Pharrel plays the face and croons on the records?

On listening to In My Mind I would say it misses the board work of Chad. There is a reason why the duo has been so successful with their work in the past. But without Chad to bounce ideas off of, the production lacks any decent moments. In the past you couldn't get a Neptunes beat out of your head.

Despite the bad press the album has received that has gone a little overboard with its dismissal, there are still some bright points. Although if you were to fill out a school report out for the album it would be labelled 'must try better'.

The strongest cut comes first and is already overly familar, but after Can I Have It Like That the track How Does It Feel is catchy enough to be used a future single. Angle sounds like the pop radio friendly track it was on release while sticking with the singles - is Number One a marketing ploy to re-ignite interest in a fading marketing campaign? Or were two of the greatest producers always planning on working together? It sounds like the first one and if you've seen the video then I take credit if you can hear the song again without thinking that is the campest video of all time (no phobia).

That Girl featuring Snoop Dogg is the closest production wise Pharrell goes to being anything near a good Neptunes beat and full credit goes to the eighties pop sounding and Jay-Z featuring Young Girl. Best Friend and Baby Father at least give us a different side to Pharrell as he delves into the personal, but it feels out of place.

Singing wise Pharrel needs to be supported on tracks or be throwing in his falsetto cameos, the rapping was what I was most looking forward to hearing as that Drop It Like It's Hot verse was hot. Some of the lyrics stand up but others sound silly. Even laughable if heard from an unknown.

Production wise The Neptunes are spot on. Ok every now and then a couple of the songs seem like they were made in similar bulk to send out to artists, but then they switch up their style again. See Superthug, Rock Your Body, Drop It Like It's Hot and Hollaback Girl.

As they've shown with The Clipse, Kelis and in recent years Justin Timberlake they can make albums for people. But when it comes to making one for them they don't quite seem to pull it off. Clones was no great shakes, the Nerd Fly Or Die sunk while In Search Of was credible. In My Mind will be forgotten about quite quickly. From now on the two should stick to what they do best - producing hits for other artists. Promised so much a year ago, now it's here this listener is disappointed.


Skinny said... @ 10:04 AM

We stated in error that the new magazine, Touch, is Britain's only black music publication (In touch with the black music scene, page 2, Media, August 7). Blues and Soul is in its 40th year, Echoes has been on sale for 30 years, and there are others including In The Basement, Manifesto, Garga Mel, Rwd and a clutch of fanzines. Hip-Hop Connection, which we said is US-based, is in fact edited and published in Cambridge (England).

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