N.E.R.D: Pop a Wheelie on The Zeitgeist
One way or another, everyone is a fan of Pharrell Williams. His long list of hits range back decades and he gave some of our favorite artist their biggest hits! His mark on music is indelible and undeniable but his superpowers are super charged when he joins forces with band mates Shay Hayley and Chad Hugo. There's something in the sauce when these three get together and we get songs like Lapdance and albums like Seeing Sounds. N.E.R.D. has always had a unique sounds that blends punk, hip hop, and that classic Virginia funk (cc: Missy & Timbaland.)
But what I got when l listened to this album was farrr beyond anything I could've expected. At first listen, the album felt abrasively energetic; like a strong cup of coffee after you've weened yourself off caffeine. I found myself bopping along but being distracted by the every changing landscape of the tracks. That is until I found the song that hit me.
"You got energy, but you ain't gonna use it." Pharell sang through my car speakers. The beat captured me reminiscent of an 80's smash hit but it was when I tuned into the lyrics that I realized this album was something to take serious. The lyrics were so unbelievably FLY and uplifting, It felt as if Pharell was speaking directly to me with a power up of motivation. He was saying "Hey you can do it too," through the music.
I was having a spiritual experience as I rewound the breakdown for the second time
Detach yourself (let go, let go, let go, let go, let go)
Be back yourself (let go, let go, let go, let go, let go)
And dream as yourself
Be seen as yourself (let go, let go, let go, let go, let go)
Beam as yourself
Scream as yourself (let go, let go, let go, let go, let go)
And be king of yourself
I nearly came out of my body when Lightning, Fire, Magic, Prayer came on! Shook, is the only word I can think of to describe my mood after the seven minute long super track. Slowly but surely, I began to sink into this album and I can unequivocally say that I LOVE it!
This album did something to me an album hasn't done in a long time; it actually made me want to listen to it! When I say listen to it, I don't mean those casual spins we've grown so accustomed to with our digital libraries. I mean I actually spent time with it, I listened to it exclusively and allowed it to get into my being. I got intimate with the project and grew to love each track for it's uniqueness.
A standout of this album is the features. N.E.R.D. called on some HUGE names for this project. Gucci Mane, Future, Rihanna, Wale, Ed Sheeran, Andre 3000, M.I.A. and Kendrick Lamar all boast features. But what's amazing here is N.E.R.D.'s ability to take these artists to another level while keeping their essence in tact. I've never heard any of them the way I heard them on this album but they somehow still sound like themselves. N.E.R.D. managed to take their sound and elevate it. Each verse is so incredibly fitting to their respective songs.
But, what I enjoyed MOST is the message behind this album. We are in tumultuous times and you can feel that energy. The music is aggressive, loud, and commanding but it is incredibly positive, inspiring, and uplifting. I leave feeling incredibly inspired each time I listen to the project with a burst of endorphins chicken heading in my body. No One Ever Really Dies is a masterclass in music and production and prime example of knowing the rules before you break them. Each song is cinematic and so carefully crafted and I dare say this is N.E.R.D.'s best work! . I give it 5 mics! Be sure to check out their mini doc and listening party on http://nooneeverreallydies.com/
- Deep Down Body Thrust
- Don't Do It
- Lightning Fire Magic Prayer
- Rollinem 7's
- Secret Life Of Tigers
- Lifting You