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A production duo comprising Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, the Neptunes (aka N.E.R.D.) rose from obscurity at the turn of the 21st century to become a pre-eminent hit-making force in hip-hop. Known for their eclectic, club-ready singles, their contagious beats have underpinned major hits by the likes of Jay-Z ("I Just Wanna Love U"), Noreaga ("Superthug"), and Mystikal ("Shake Ya Ass"). In 2001, they formed the side-project N.E.R.D with longtime friend and rapper Shay Haley, and the collaboration resulted in the exceptional LP In Search Of. A highly musical, genre-blending affair, the release merged their usual jumpy beatscapes with soulful singing, thick pop melodies and psychedelic sonic trickery. In 2004, the band followed up with Fly Or Die, which saw Hugo and Williams picking up instruments for the first time. 2008's Seeing Sounds teetered between two worlds, mixing future-forward hip-hop with extended full-band workouts. As the Neptunes, the duo continues to churn out hits for major pop artists; as N.E.R.D., they satisfy their desire to expand their musical horizons.
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