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In Search Of...

by N*E*R*D*

Released August 6, 2001 via Star Trak / Virgin Records / EMI

Reviewed August 5, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Run To The Sun (70%), Provider (33%), Lapdance (30%), Things Are Getting Better (30%), Rock Star (30%)

For as long as the production duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (also known as The Neptunes) have been working, trendsetting and hit-making have been their prerogatives. Producing for the likes of Jay-Z, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and more, their legacy was bound for greatness very early on. But when The Neptunes joined forces with fellow Virginia native and rapper Shay Haley to form N.E.R.D., it brought about a whole new level of creativity that diversified one of hip-hop’s most impressive resumés. It didn’t take much time at all for this trio to create magic, as the band’s debut record, In Search Of…, had an undeniable impact on the culture that lasts to this day. Pharrell takes the reins as the primary vocalist—both singing and rapping—while Shay Haley often serves a more complimentary role, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Both ooze charisma and confidence by the boatload, and while you’ll be hard-pressed to find any “bars” on here, there’s no shortage of ingenious songwriting. Overtly sexual, rebellious, and in-tune to the realities of street life, In Search Of...embodies multifaceted and complex characters trying to navigate the equally confusing world its narrators reside in. This corresponds with the group’s bombastic production; merging funk rock and electronic with hip-hop and R&B, all while retaining the earworm-like qualities you’d expect from The Neptunes’ production. The sound is wholly unique in the same way its storytellers are. In Search Of… is more than just a fantastic record; it is a generation-defining work that inspired attentive listeners to stop searching and start embracing all the quirks, contradictions, and realities that comprise their true selves. – Dominick (10/10)

One of the most proven production duos across rap and pop music, The Neptunes, powerfully affirmed their transcendent powers with the formation of N.E.R.D., and the re-release of their debut album, In Search Of. With live instrumental support of Minneapolis-based power pop band Spymob, Pharrell and Chad Hugo reworked an album that was a predominantly electronic effort upon its initial release. The added guitars give an edge to the grooves of this trio's consistently brilliant production, illuminating the multi-faceted talent and crossover potential being offered. Pharrell makes for an excellent frontman, whose slick and rebellious, playboy rockstar persona moves in lockstep with the album's rowdy, funky, and fun-loving production. Thematically, the songwriting explores rocky relationships, humble beginnings, and a complete disdain for posers. Stylistically, In Search Of... stands as a beaming landmark in the cultural timeline of rap music and its inroads to other genres. Having inspired Tyler, The Creator, BROCKHAMPTON, and so many others, N.E.R.D. will naturally continue to influence the genre bending potential of hip-hop music well beyond its first 20 years. – DeVán (9.5/10)

A powerful duality permeates in the landscape of In Search Of…, N.E.R.D.'s debut record. There exists the push of a blissful optimism for the future, contrasted by the pull of the past’s pessimistic reality. Both lyrically and sonically, the trio grapples with these two powerful forces, nearly track for track. The airy innocence that “Run To the Sun,” “Provider,” and “Things Are Getting Better” create are immediately torn down by the lustful destruction of tracks like “Truth Or Dare” and “Brain.” The contrast is tragically beautiful. But one constant throughout In Search Of… is the feeling that N.E.R.D. is flipping the bird at everyone’s expectations for what a “hip-hop group” should sound like. It’s almost as if Pharrell, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley specifically came together to reimagine and deconstruct the hallmarks of hip-hop to pave the way for the next generation of artists who never fit into the box they were expected to nestle into. – Ben (Synth) (9/10)

Dominick: 10/10 | DeVán: 9.5/10 | Pax: 9/10

Hadley: 8.5/10 | Alan: 8.4/10 | Daniel: 6/10


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