Artist: The NeptunesTitle: The Neptunes Present… ClonesRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Toshi Kondo
The Neptunes Present… Clones is what everyone expected N.E.R.D (Neptune’s rock band)’s In Search Of… would be. Instead the Neptunes dropped a rock album with a few Clipse verses. A year later, maybe to appease upset fans, the Neptunes gather a dream team lineup and deliver a predominantly hip-hop album that should leave no doubt as to why they’re hip-hop’s hottest production clique.
When you watch interviews of artists claiming that their new album will have something for everyone, it lacks credibility once you hear the album. On the other hand, the Neptunes somehow cover almost every aspect of their stellar production resume with hip-hop, Rock, R&B, and a little reggae.
That “Frontin” with Pharrell and Jigga and Busta Rhymes’ raunchy “Light Your Ass On Fire” have dominated radio playlists all summer should come as no surprise. Songs that club DJs get tired of hearing requests for are the Neptunes’ specialty. It’s the raw and unrefined tracks like “Hot” that truly show Pharrell and Chad’s versatility.
“Hot” has an incredibly catchy and minimalist beat that’s nothing more than a continuous reverse scratch accompanied by a kick that comes in every other snare. Although Pusha T, and Boo-Bonic come off strong, Rosco P. Coldchain easily outshines them unremorsefully explaining “I scare the s### out of a bank teller so I can become rich/ That’s how I make my living, I give’em encouragement/ your doing great, keep chilling while I flashing the glock in their face.” All aspiring thug rappers take note, this is what gutter music should sound like.
At times though, the Neptunes try and do too much with the album. Their inclusion of Rock tracks (“Half-Steering”, “F#%k N’ Spend”, and “Loser”) is unnecessary and deviates from the rest of the album’s vibe. While N.O.R.E.’s “Put ‘Em Up” is the polar opposite of “Nuthin” in terms of dopeness. The irritating female voices chanting “It’s N.O.R.E, N.O.R.E” sounds amateurish and adds nothing to the synthesized bounce track.
When hip-hop producers bring an innovative sound, the denunciations that they will soon be outdated are inevitable. The process of moving from a gimmick to a respected entity is a rite of passage for all new producers. The Neptunes Present… Clones marks the completion of this journey and gives notice to critics that they’ll be seeing Pharrell crooning in his off-key falsetto next to dimepieces on MTV for years to come.