Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, the amazing Neptunes
I don’t think any Neptunes or Pharrell Williams Blog Special would be complete without counting down the amazing and infectious productions of The Neptunes. On a personal note, starting around 2001 I became a massive fan of the work of Chad Hugo and Pharrell and their danceably catchy tracks that took over the radio shortly after I discovered them via Kelis’ debut album “Kaleidoscope”. Not only did I burn several Neptunes CD’s, but my desk at work was filled with pics of the duo. I was probably their biggest fans, so I’m well versed in their production history and feel more than worthy of putting together a ranking of their best.
So here are my Top 45 tracks produced by Chad and Pharrell, and you might be surprised what made the cut and what didn’t. I know I was.
Enjoy this as #PharrellPhriday comes to a close. And like the Top 25 Kanye West Production post I did a few years ago, I decided not to include any of the Pharrell solo songs or N.E.R.D. outputs and only ranked songs they did for other artists. Off the top of my head though, of the Pharrell solo songs I would probably only put “That Girl” and “Number One” from his debut, “Lost Queen” from his latest album, and “Frontin'”, the hit single from The Neptunes’ “The Clones” compilation album. And “She Wants to Move” from N.E.R.D.’s second album because it is one of my all time favorite songs period.
Okay enough with the introduction, here is the list!
45. Kelis “Shooting Stars”
A sweet sweet track on the underrated and unreleased (in the US) second album from Neptunes protegee Kelis. It’s a lovely slow jam book-ended with a great outro, overall just a very pleasing listen that will make you smile and sing along.
44. Beyonce “Blow”
Timbaland is responsible for the “Cherry” portion of this song, but the majority is thanks to The Neptunes including that funky funky bassline and the disco meets funk meets club sound of this killer track.
43. Jay-Z “Lalala”
There’s not much to say here, this is just one of those typically HOT Neptunes tracks that just make you want to get out of your seat and shake some thangs!
42. Ludacris “Money Maker”
I give this song credit because it was a huge hit and because it is a slightly different sound than we were used to getting from the duo. It’s definitely catchy, it’s definitely danceable, but it’s also a little more dark and dense. And it’s a grower, because I didn’t instantly like it but now I love it.
41. Mystikal “Danger (Been So Long)”
40. SWV “Use Your Heart”
I always thought this was one of SWV’s best songs, but I didn’t know it was done by The Neptunes until I got fully into them years and years after the fact. This was one of their first big time productions and it’s pretty amazing still.
39. Madonna “Give It 2 Me”
It’s just a decent, uptempo club track… but then… “Get Stupid Get Stupid Get Stupid Go Crazy” comes on and #LIFE is given.
38. Busta Rhymes “Light Your Ass on Fire”
37. N.O.R.E. “Nothin”
This was a huge club hit in it’s day, the kind of club banger that made the clubs explode and had everyone singing along. The Neptunes effect.
36. Jay-Z “I Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me)”
35. Justin Timberlake “Rock Your Body”
We know now that this song was originally meant for Michael Jackson but the KING passed on it and Timberlake ran with it. Justin owns this disco-fied “Off the Wall”- inspired track and it’s still a favorite.
34. Kelis “Flashback”
Talk about catchy!! This song by Kelis will have you singing “Yeah Yeah!!” and dancing for your life.
33. Mystikal “Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall)”
Do I really need to explain why this makes the list!? It’s so incredibly funky and soulful and fun. That’s it. That’s all. Enjoy!
32. Jay-Z “Change Clothes”
This one is actually pretty simple of a production, but I swear when it gets to the “Sexy Sexy… Ah-Ha” part I go AWF!!!
31. Beyonce “Work It Out”
King Bey’s official first solo single was a FUNKED up work out for the “Austin Powers in Goldmember” soundtrack where Beyonce channeled Tina Turner and James Brown while yellin’ for Chad to “blow ya horn nah!”
30. 702 “I Still Love You”
Underrated song from a basically unheard album. It’s still one of the best slow-jam productions with the heavy bass and airy effects. Please check it out.
29. Mase “Lookin’ At Me”
Another early Neptunes hit, and one that was so weird and different sounding for the time that it probably was a bit of a breakthrough for them.
28. Clipse “When the Last Time”
27. Beenie Man “Girls Dem Sugar”
A sexy dancehall classic, one of their best in the genre and the most recognizable and catchy.
26. Beyonce “Green Light”
“Give it to Mama!” This song is funky, uptempo, fierce and undeniably catchy. An excellent song in general.
25. Usher “U Don’t Have to Call”
24. Madonna “Incredible”
This song lives up to it’s title. It’s just unique and fresh and bold. Check it out.
23. T.I. “Whats Yo Name”
I absolutely love this slow burning track from before T.I. was THE T.I. he has become today. It’s just a good vibe song.
22. Diddy “Diddy”
FUN FUN FUN infectious song that cannot be denied. Get Up and Dance, you know you want to.
21. Kelis “Milkshake”
Pretty much a Pop classic at this point, Kelis’ hugest hit and one of the most fun and silly songs matched with a grimey uptempo dance track that balances out to be one of their most memorable songs. (And honestly, this is a pre-cursor to silly songs like “My Humps” that invaded radio. “Milkshake” is a bit of a trend-setter)
20. Jay-Z “I Know”
I love this song simply because the production is so strange and different. Never would have guessed that The Neptunes would attempt a track like this, and make it so perfect for Jay to flow on top of.
19. Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl”
Another very silly and fun song that is insanely catchy and infectious. Those hard drums and keyboard effects make it at fun and an intensely hard track at the same time. It’s just BANANAS!!
18. Roscoe P. Coldchain “Hot”
This stark and simple track was an instant favorite from “The Clones” album, and shows the genius of The Neptunes. Those keyboard effects throughout are so subtly placed that it makes this a perfect groove.
17. Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines”
“Hey Hey Hey!” Everybody loves this song, and we know why, so there’s no reason to explain why it was the song of 2013. Let’s not even talk about the lawsuit, sure it feels inspired by a classic Marvin Gaye song but that is the beauty of The Neptunes. They are known for taking familiar sounds and taking them into the new millennium, so who cares as long as people are dancing and singing along right!?
16. Nelly “Hot N Herre”
This song owned the summer of 2002, and it’s clear why. The catchy hooks, the soulful dance groove, and the old meets new feel of it makes it a true classic.
15. Britney Spears “I’m A Slave 4 U”
Yeah this might be a shameless rip off of Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl”, but Chad and Pharrell took something classic and made it their own. This really is an Epic production and the perfect song to take Britney out of the teeny-bop sound she was known for and making her slightly more adult. This brought britney into the clubs and for that it’s a classic.
14. Jay-Z “Excuse Me Miss”
Though The Neptunes are famous for making us want to dance, they also have a host of great slow-burners and this is clearly one of their best. The weird effects don’t take away from the laid back groove of this sexy and somewhat comical track.
13. Snoop Dogg “Beautiful”
12. Fabolous “Young’n (Holla Back)”
11. Snoop Dogg “Let’s Get Blown”
I have always loved this track because of how mellow and chill it is, while still managing to give us a solid rhythm to dance to. At this point it’s clear that The Neptunes and Snoop have amazing chemistry together and produce some amazing tracks.
10. Clipse “Mr. Me Too”
This wasn’t a huge hit, but I remember when me and my friend came across it we couldn’t get enough. The song has an amazingly smooth chill vibe that makes you want to nod your head while… well, let’s not incriminate ourselves. An amazing track.
9. Busta Rhymes “What It Is”
Yet again, I’m saying the same things over and over. Let’s just say it again, this Busta track not only has amazing production but it’s incredibly catchy and I dare any one to try to listen to this song and not want to dance.
8. Justin Timberlake “Like I Love You”
Timberlake’s debut solo single was pretty much perfection. It has a harder edged dance sound than he was used to singing on top of, and that outro portion was just insane and really this made him the star he is today. Thanks Neptunes.
7. Clipse “Grindin'”
Classic track, incredibly simple but as infectious and detailed as any of the bigger tracks Neptunes have provided. Not much else to say about this masterpiece except that it’s Epic by being Simple.
6. Ludacris “Southern Hospitality”
5. Mystikal “Shake Ya Ass”
This is honestly the song that made The Neptunes the most sought out production team they are. When this song dropped and killed radio, everybody started running to them for beats. It’s what they do best, that soulful old meets new now that is so catchy and makes everybody want to dance. This was their breakthrough, so I guess we need to thank the long forgotten Mystikal for making this the hit it was.
4. Britney Spears “Boys”
“Slave” was the bigger hit, but to me this was the one that was the hottest of the two Britney/Neptunes collaborations of 2001. It’s so incredibly funky and it feels like Britney connected with this track and the lyrics more. (Yes, it’s also a bit of a rip off of Mary Jane Girls’ “Boys”, but again The Neptunes managed to make it their own.)
3. Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Got Your Money”
2. Snoop Dogg “It Blows My Mind”
When I decided to do this list, this was the first song that came to mind. It’s just another simple production with those strange unique effects and a catchy hook. Not many people probably even know about this song from “The Clones” but it’s always been a favorite and always blows MY mind.
1. Snoop Dogg “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
YES, we are finally here. #1, and it’s another Snoop track but I feel this deserves the top spot for a variety of reasons. Mainly it has everything we’ve been talking about so far. It’s an amazing track, it’s catchy as hell and it was a HUGE hit. It’s one of those songs that will always be remembered. A timeless, fun, catchy, danceable, classic. Enough said.
So there you have it. Clearly this is debatable, but it’s also clearly what I feel are the best. And like I said before, I’m well versed in The Neptunes’ work so I come with a little bit of credibility. And that’s #PharrellPhriday which turned into more of a #PharrellWeekend but oh well. I hope you all enjoyed the posts and leave some comments either way.