N*E*R*D - Nothing

HipHopDX Editor's Rating:

  • 1
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Average User Rating:

3.22

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Nothing takes on more of a Rap Psychadelic approach, a combination of Woodstock and Hoodshock.

N*E*R*D cult followers understand that once Pharrell, Chad and Shay hole up in the studio to make magic, anything can happen. While the trio has earned the Hip Hop stamp of approval during their near-decade tenure as a group, they aren't necessary Hip Hop per se. Nothing furthers this evidence, with genre-twisting tracks that offer what N*E*R*D has been known to deliver: a new outlook on music.


The four-year break in between 2004's Fly Or Die and 2008's Seeing Sounds had a huge impact on the direction of N*E*R*D's music. By 2008, Pharrell had become a cultural and fashion icon, Chad was labeled the genius behind The Neptunes, and Shay filled in the gaps with his Beatles-crazed take on Rap. When Seeing Sounds dropped, it was soaked in sounds that reflected the bright fashion of Pharrell, adopting synesthesia, which is the actual condition of "seeing sounds". The work was loud, wild, and rambunctious and reflected an electro-punk flair that the group meddled with in the past but perfected by that very moment. Nothing takes on more of a Rap Psychadelic approach, a combination of Woodstock and Hoodshock.

Nothing opens with the Disco-meets-New Wave "Party People" , the only track of its kind on the album. T.I. manages to keep up with the pace of the cut by speeding up his rhyming in a cadence similar to fellow ATL-ien Big Boi. "Hypnotize U" follows with Pharrell doing his usual coos and sneaky whisper rhymes. When N*E*R*D announced last year that they were inviting B-level R&B songstress Rhea into the fold, it was for Pharrell to take a step back on the singing. She was dropped before Nothing finished, and is therefore nowhere to be found on the work. While reviving the career of a near-retired singer posed beneficial to a group like Black Eyed Peas, leaving P on the vocals was a smart choice for N*E*R*D.

The middle of Nothing is a mesh of '70s-inspired cuts that are psychotropically mellowed by Pharrell's smooth vocals, with hints of Rock and scattered political undertones. It sounds all very Beach Boys' Pet Sounds-inspired up until "Perfect Defect" which has a hint of Hall & Oates. Then the album zooms into party mode, with the signature sounding "Nothing On You" and the pleasantly sleazy "Hot-n-Fun" with Nelly Furtado. It switches gears once again by "I Wanna Jam", which sounds like guitar riffs from The Clash's "London Calling" were chopped up and swirled around the cut. "The Man" closes Nothing, with a very traditional Neptunes beat, reminding of the versatility this group possesses.

Hip Hop heads may scoff at Nothing, considering the only thing rap about it are the strategically placed rhymes on certain tracks. Like The Roots' Phrenology, the experimentation will either be revered or cursed depending upon the listener. While Nothing is arguably N*E*R*D's best musical work to date, it has pushed the group into a new dimension, far far away from its Hip Hop beginnings.

19 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Idk about this 3.5 man. I respect what N.E.R.D be doing their tracks are different if you think about it they're just doing something different, if you think about it people listen to different music they bring a dufferent kind of sound I say takew this album a chance and see how you feel

  • Anonymous

    Lol, yea...This is not hiphop. Good pop music, but, not hiphop.

  • Drake Dilla

    I personally really dug Pharells In My Mind, Actually Out Of Mind, Pharell & The Yessirs, And to me Seeing Sounds was the best Nerd lp to date...that album had bangin sounds and was just alota fun, as for this lp havent copped it, or heard more than two tracks, but it sounds very similar to these past two projects...tho I liked the T.I. track and the Hot N Fun, track sounds okay, I like Pharells dilla tribute/homage, "look atchu, Look at me"...Anyway I will rate this album once I gets to peep it...

    • Black Alien

      Damn you put Fourtet F Guilty Simpson (Serious as your Life)that was my joint...What about (Sniper Elite) F Doom ...or (So Hardcore) F Busta...Any song on LABCABBCALIFORNIA....Komm Schonn f ASD (german group) or One of my favorites Lightworks....Damn your right Dilla is one of the top 5 hip hop producers ever...Rest In Power Dilla..

    • N/A

      @DrakeDilla I remember when Pharrell was on 106 and park and he flipped out when nobody from the Crowd knew who J-Dilla was when he was talking about him. Did he really say the lines "Look at chu look at me" was his homage to Dilla? If so damn he could of done better then that how about an entire song since he always talks about how big of a Tribe and J-Dilla Fan he is. Anyway as for the new cd it's ok for sure not better then the first album "In Search of" or the last cd "Seeing Sounds" but check it out and tell me what you think. I was so hyped for the collabo with Daft Punk and that kinda let me down "Hypnotize U" could of been better in my opinion. Do keep in mind theirs a cd out with 10 tracks and another with 15 tracks so be sure to pick up the one with the 5 bonus tracks. Anyway I'm out and one more thing here are my top 10 J-Dilla Beats. 1.Slum Village - Raise it up 2.J-Dilla - Make em NV 3.Phat Kat - Cold Steel 4.Frank-N-Dank - Take Dem Clothes off 5.The Pharcyde - Drop 6.Common - Thelonious 7.Busta Rhymes - Turn me up some 8.Oh No - Move 9.Chino XL - Don't Say a Word 10.A Tribe Called Quest - Get A Hold *Bonus Pick* Fourtet - As Serious As Your Life (Remix) R.I.P. J-Dilla (King of the Beats ever since the days of The Ummah)

  • rad

    real music, with real messages...im tired of the same ole bs that artists are puttin out. this is something different.

  • PimpinAllMylife

    Hmm I really didnt agree with the 3,5 rating in the beginning, but then I saw also other reviews giving these ratings: 4 out 5: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/album-nerd-nothing-universal-2119269.html 3 out of 5: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/oct/31/nerd-nothing-pharrell-williams-review 3 out of 5: http://beat-town.com/2010/10/27/review-nerd-nothing/ maybe I should check it again....

  • instrocious

    "these guys have a lot of money but there music now sounds like a high pitched fart through a tuba. fuck this." couldn't agree more This isn't progressive, it's bad pop. If more hip hop heads listened to other genres of music, they wouldn't be so impressed when their favorite artists try to venture into other genres unsuccessfully.

    • AP

      @instrocious..."If more hip hop heads listened to other genres of music, they wouldn't be so impressed when their favorite artists try to venture into other genres unsuccessfully."....that is true, but Pharell isnt really a hip hop artist at heart. So he really isnt trying to venture out, this is his sound. He merged hip hop into it. I listen to other genres so i know what u mean about not easily impressed (i.e. Kanye) when they try to venture out.

  • Anonymous

    N.E.R.D at its best. nobodys sounds like them. thats why they're unique in this genre of music.

  • nopex3

    I don't much care for them, or what I've heard from this album. Native Tongues are Pet Sounds, not this.

  • Anonymous

    these guys have a lot of money but there music now sounds like a high pitched fart through a tuba. fuck this.

  • Westbury Jones

    with n.e.r.d. you either like it or u dont............and i like it

  • bios

    last record was a try hard mish mash of ideas that were clearly above their station. this sounds a little more within reach. not bad.