Few individuals have been more influential in how hip-hop both looks and sounds than Virginia Beach producer/singer Pharrell Williams. His work with the Neptunes and N.E.R.D. is among the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful in all of hip-hop. Beginning with N.O.R.E's 1998 hit single "Super Thug" and ODB's cult classic N*gg* Please, the Neptunes essentially reinvented the Urban Music wheel, effecting everything from R&B to hip-hop to modern pop. Their mixture of grimy minimalism, churning electro funk and airy R&B was confrontational in its absolute accessibility. The churning noise of Clipse's "Grindin'" gave way to the fragile melody of "Frontin'," yet neither club-goers nor radio DJs missed a beat. A string of imitators sprung up in their wake (did you know that the Neptunes didn't produce J-Kwon's "Tipsy"?), but Pharrell and co. were so relentless and mercurial that they never grew stale to pop consumers. But more than merely reconfiguring the genre's sonic landscape, Williams redefined the role of the hip-hop producer. As the public face of the Neptunes, he appeared in videos for Busta Rhymes, P. Diddy and Nelly; designed a line of jewelry and sunglasses for Louis Vuitton; and graced many a hook with his awkward yet endearing falsetto warble. It was perhaps the first example of producer as pop personality, and the approach would be adopted by everyone from Lil' John to Kanye West. Considering that he's one of pop music's most recognizable figures, it comes as little surprise that his debut solo album, In My Mind , is one of 2006's most eagerly anticipated releases.