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Diggin' In The Crates: The Neptunes



Some producers have a short stay in this game. Lack of creativity, ability to reinvent themselves, or becoming too repetitive usually does them in at some point. However, if you are Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, you never have to worry about that. Over 20 years now, Chad and Pharrell(mostly Pharrell now) have managed to stay relevant and hugely sought after producers in this game. They have an extensive catalog of beats, and today we will look at their best productions, some that went under the radar, and some that are very popular. We tried to blend the underrated beats with some of the most-known, check out our choices below.

*N.O.R.E.- Superthug(What, What)


-A choice from SOTB, this was one of their first major hits. The song which took N.O.R.E. from being just another artist to, well, Superthug. I think that, just based off this track and "Nothin'," N.O.R.E. will probably never have to record anything ever again. But, production-wise? It was one of the first tracks which introduced that "Neptunes sound," boombap meets futuristic synth-rap meets thugged-out bass. Plus, it had people running laps 'round the English Channel.

*MC Lyte feat Space Nine- Closer


-A very underrated gem, this track features that signature Neptunes sound(piano driven here) and drums, as Lyte kicks her laid back lyrics here.

*Harlem World feat Rashad- Not The Kids


-That late 90s-very early 2000s Neptunes sound was so distinctive. The drums and the melodies were obvious from jump and this song was no different. A very underrated gem.

*Kelis- Suspended


-This was a very slept on gem, as The Neptunes always gave Kelis some greatness. This song in particular featured a slower melody and drum pattern that works beautifully.

*Beenie Man feat Mya- Girls Dem Sugar


-You know this song. You loved this song. You may have danced to it at the clubs, the school dances, or in the house(depending on your age), but you know this song well. Infectious, a party starter, and dare I say, a classic.

*Mystikal- Family


-Debated on choosing "Shake Ya Ass" or "Danger" but this track from his 2000 multi-platinum album "Let's Get Ready" was slept on. High energy, booming dopeness.

*Lil Bow Wow- Take You Home


Yeah. I said it. Another SOTB choice. This was one of the few tracks where Bow Wow looked like he could be more than a "child rapper turned CBS actor." That's not an insult on Bow Wow's talent, but this beat and this sort of production, it elevated his middling lyrics to a point where in the early 2000s, you may have found yourself bobbing to this beat and not even realize Shad Moss is delivering lyrics (because, I'm sorry, I've never been the one to say that Bow Wow had bars).

*Joe- Isn't This The World


-The smooth track off his "Better Days" album is one that invites you to sing along as the melody of the beat helps carry it.

*Philly's Most Wanted- Please Don't Mind


-When Philly's Most Wanted hit with their single "Cross The Border", they gained attention. However, it was the 2nd single "Please Don't Mind" that had a lasting effect, backed by the melodic yet anthemic rhythm and of course the hook.

*Clipse- Grindin


-There is no way in hell that we can do a list of the Neptunes beats and not include this one. This song's legacy speaks for itself. The beat is completely fire.

*Clipse- Gangsta Lean


-Released on the underrated "Lord Willin" album(wait for it), this song is quite possibly my favorite Clipse song ever. The beat is perfect, the feel of the song is perfect, everything here works.

*N.E.R.D.- Run To The Sun


-From the album "In Search Of....", this track is backed by yet another amazing melody with very smooth drums to carry it. N.E.R.D. always came with heat, this song was just on a different level.

*Scarface feat Faith Evans- Someday


-Scarface seemed to be soul searching on his classic 2002 album, "The Fix". This track provided with him the canvas he needed to paint his pain and explain where he was in life. This seemed like a letter to God from Face.

*LL Cool J feat Marc Dorsey- U Should


-I debated putting "Luv U Better" here, but this song was just a tad bit smoother. Released on LL's "10" album, this track was vintage LL on his shit for the ladies, but sounded so much better over a Neptunes track.

*Fam-Lay- Rock-N-Roll


-A choice from Apollo, this scorcher showed The Neptunes at their best, pretty much in their prime together, giving Fam-Lay the soundbed to tell you that we can roll up, but don't try to roll up.

*The Neptunes Clones Intro


-It's like 25 seconds long, but its a beautiful track and I wish it was made into an actual song by someone dope. Real gem here.

*Jay-Z- Allure


-I could have chose "Excuse Me Miss" or even "I Just Wanna Love U", but this one means more to me. Easily the best song on Jay's supposed retirement album "The Black Album", this track allowed Jay to zone out and allowed Pharrell to hit us with another infectious hook, as usual.

*T.I.- Freak Though


-T.I. was just hitting his stride when he released "Urban Legend" in 2004, and that album itself was fire. The song that really stuck out to me however? This very song here. A smooth track backed with yet another great Pharrell hook.

*Snoop Dogg- Let's Get Blown


-You may see a pattern here. With a great Neptunes beat comes a great Pharrell hook. "Drop It Like It's Hot" was a secondary choice here, but with The Neptunes' strength being their ability to make great melodies, this song had to be included. All around dopeness.

*Slim Thug- This Is My Life


-Already Platinum is a slept on album. Slim Thug had hits. Pharrell laced that album with gems, but this was the strongest one. This beat felt damn near cinematic.

*Pharrell- You Can Do It Too


-Pharrell released his solo album "In My Mind", and while I wasn't too fond of the rapping side of his album, this gem of a beat definitely helped. Pharrell provides a jazzy track here, and the result is glorious.

*Clipse- Keys Open Doors


-Another choice from Apollo, this track bumped through the streets as one of the best tracks on Hell Hath No Fury. The Neptunes connected with an anthem for the streets and Clipse.

*Clipse feat Pharrell and Bilal- Nightmares


-A duel choice from both True and Apollo, this one in particular is infectious. Backed by those signature Neptunes drums and a beautiful melody, the music flows perfectly as Bilal kills the hook while explaining that his niggas think he's P-Noid.

*N.E.R.D.- You Know What


-This track is yet another smooth N.E.R.D. joint, and the results here are amazing.

*Jay-Z- So Ambitious


-BP3 was highly forgettable. One song that was not? This one here. Pharrell hit with not only a dope beat, but yet again another amazing hook.

*Solange- I Decided


-This track here was totally slept on. A bouncy, melodic yet spacey track here, Solange creates herself a hit over that Neptunes sound.

*Yuna- Live Your Life


-I had only heard this song one time before, but it stuck out to me and when I went to make this list, I knew I had to include it. Yuna has a great voice, beautiful melodies and harmonies and this song is just pure greatness.

*Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid


Another SOTB choice here. Ok, so this is one of the most recent Neptunes beats that's just grabbed me by the throat and said "SOTB!!!, you better listen to this shit. Listen good, listen hard, listen well. For this beat, my brother, it is a classic!" Now, of course, the Neptunes have been making great music for 20+ years, but in 2012, I'll be honest. I expected them to just make dope music. This song took "dope," injected some dope, and made one half of the title track to Kendrick's album a "Mad Angel on Angel Dust." The smooth sample/replay, highlighted by an interpolation of Roy Ayers (you can never go wrong with Roy Ayers, folks. Look at Mary J. and "My Life"), this was one of the highlights of GKMC for me.

*Earl Sweatshirt- Chum



-The final SOTB choice here and the final one overall. Now, we all know that OF was somewhat influenced by Neptunes. But, this track was...well, good. Chad's piano's allow Earl to just spill his soul. Listen to this song if you doubt Earl's lyrical niceness--and/or his beat selection.

Conclusion
So many choices. So many picks. The Neptunes are possibly the greatest producers ever and definitely one of the best as well. They bring so much to the table for artists and others. What did you think? Tweet us and comment below.

-DAR

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