First Look at N.E.R.D.’s ‘Nothing’ Album


For some reason, it just wouldn’t seem right to go the whole night at N.E.R.D.’s album listening session without seeing a Billionaire Boys Club sweatshirt on a club patron. It only took three minutes to validate this point at New York City’s upscale venue Avenue as the sounds of Nothing, N.E.R.D.’s latest studio effort, played for a crowd of tastemakers.

Originally, Pharrell, Chad, and Shae planned on calling their fourth album Instant Gratification, which would also feature a female vocalist named Rhea, who was supposed to usher in the revolution. Despite a name change and Rhea’s absence, a musical shift is apparent. On The Neptunes-produced tracks, nostalgia for ’70s R&B, dance, and funk take charge. Hip-hop takes a back seat as Pharrell exercises his pipes. The production is more prevalent than the lyrical content, yet the trio has deviated from the party hard, crash harder dejection to focus on songs about love, heartbreak, and victory. highlights five tracks from N.E.R.D.’s newest release.

1. “Help Me”
There is a strong Otis Redding meets Ricky Fanté meets Raphael Saadiq feel to this song. While Pharrell is drowning in sorrow claiming the “cold doesn’t stop when you cry,” horns wail and a cloud appears bringing a thunderstorm. “Cold can only be killed but never absorbed,” a lamenting listener will hear while drowning in relative sorrows.

2. “Make You Feel Good”
This song has the extraterrestrial, spatial sound that N.E.R.D. is known for with a simple melody contrived to “make you feel good.” While this record probably isn’t a song that shouts “Get up and dance!” the four girls hired to dance on tables during the listening session may beg to differ.

3. “I Seen the Light”
A sizzling beat clamors behind a memorable melody for yet another love track about meeting “the one” and seeing the light. Why it sounds like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day is up to the ethers.

4. “Party People”
By the end of this song, one might ask, “Wait, which girl do you need one more time?” In the background, there is the recurring phrase, “What I need, what I need is that girl there.” Redundant, yet meant to create a brain imprint, this uptempo track is made for dancing.

5. “Hot-N-Fun” featuring Nelly Furtado
N.E.R.D.’s first single may not necessarily be prime club material, yet it is perfect to pump through speakers at a packed stadium. The song, which features the musical stylings of Nelly Furtado, is fun, upbeat, and catchy. “It’s a new day, life as you know it has changed,” Pharrell says toward the song’s close.

N.E.R.D.’s fourth studio album Nothing is due July 6.

–Tanya Remekie

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  1. TVA

    Man, was kind of looking forward to seeing what Rhea could do. Guess they decided not to go the B.E.P. route. Hopefully she’ll pop up elsewhere.


  2. M!ke

    I cant wait for this album to drop!!!!


  3. boom.BOOM.P0W

    Not impressed by the review.
    I just may be getting just Kelis & M.I.A. on 7/6/


  4. Rhys

    Glad they didn’t sell out and get a singer. The group is fine the way they are, and why tinker with a winning formula.


  5. werwerewr

    another album to put on my ‘list’.


  6. Chocosuga

    I was SO excited to hear “Radio (WTF)” on this album and now it seems like it won’t be on the album? I’m dissapointed!


  7. sss

    The review is not positive…

    But I really like Hot & Fun!
    But NERD always rock! I’m glad that Rhea is out.
    can’t wait till July.


  8. yesyes

    Album will be hot. yeah glad Rhea’s gone, she didn’t fit somehow.


  9. Martese

    Im so pissed jo. Rhea would have gave the band a new energy. NERD is colddd, but adding her would have made them MAGICAL. Anybody hear that Snippet of “Radio(Wtf)”? Shits cold.


  10. Fangs

    Shut up Martese. Shits cold.


  11. atl

    im very dissapointed. the snippets were not what i expected after so many pushed back release dates. yo, P! U FELL OFF MAN!


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