Kelis, The Clipse, The Neptunes and N*E*R*D were all in full swing, all still somewhat new, and touring like crazy.
But now that Star Trak roster has been seriously decimated. The now veteran acts I spoke of above are all on separate labels and hardly work with each other anymore.
Kelis futuristic sound has been traded in for a smoother, more refined and traditional approach to singing by Robin Thicke.
The Clipse's grimy yet witty coke raps have been replaced by newcomer Charles Hamilton's more playful and carefree rhymes.
And peripheral yet vital Star Trak affiliate Roscoe P. Coldchain devoting more time to staying out of jail than staying in the studio, it would seem the last of the originals are Chad and Pharrell, and Shay.
But what about Fam-Lay, Norfolk's finest who we first heard on The Clipse's debut album in 2002? Let's not forget about Fam, who has been putting in work over the last year releasing a mixtape as well as leaking a number of tracks to the internet for his hungry fans to grab up.
His style is decidedly country but with a hustler's mentality. Not exactly the most original approach, but considering who introduced him to the masses, I guess it's only right that he's guilty by association.
Here are a few of his outstanding tracks, in no particular order, that need more recognition:
No Time For No's Feat. Pharrell & The Clipse: This beat is crazy with Neptunes sounds galore and a sick bassline, but Malice gets takes the crown as he goes on about how he's so busy and important that he just doesn't have any time in his life for a woman that will tell him "no" in any capacity. He starts his verse off by singing the first couple of bars:
"I just wanna have relations...This song is going on two years old now and it would have rocked from the clubs to the jeeps with ease.
With no expectations...
Strictly for sport b*tch,
But this ain't no court, b*tch!
More like Courtyard Marriot.
Oh, the canary rock?
Well that's the worm on the fish hook.
Soon as the bitch look, the b*tch hooked.
Accurate description, it's like fishin'."
I'm told to be on the lookout for Fam's new mixtape, tentatively called The Dirty Way.
Da Beeper Song Feat. Pharrell: This one sounds like something straight out of Slim Thug's vault of Neptunes beats. Fresh organs with a deep 808 over a bouncy beat. Another slept-on gem. No real quotables here but Fam steps his style game up and flips and ill flow throughout the song that's worth noting.
Fresh n' Drivin' Feat. Pharrell: Noticing a trend here? Yep, it would seem that Fam can't make a hot song without Skateboard P. But to Fam's credit, he is not the only artist to fall under that category. This song is heavy on the Neptunes synths and comes off as a cool summer song, and while some might say Pharrell wails on the hook, others with trained ears will admit that his wailing complements the song perfectly and was just what it needed to be complete. Anyone would have sounded dope on this song, so of course Fam shines.
Recently Fam seems to have gone in a different direction musically with the release of his latest single, "War Music," on which he just can't find the beat, so he comes off as a bit rhythmless. To his credit, the beat is wack anyway, but Fam still has some decent rhymes and you can see his growth as an emcee.
Now is the time for Pharrell and Chad to step in and bless this man with beats and cash in on his talent while the southern rap market is still lucrative. Fam opened up for N*E*R*D when I saw them about 3 years ago and he had a Lil Jon song and everything, and even that never got released!
This can probably be attributed to record label drama, as he was signed to Def Jam a few years ago, so, sadly enough, I expect him to languish in Joe Budden obscurity for the remainder of his rap career. I hope he proves me wrong, though.
Here are two other random but decent Neptunes-produced Fam-Lay tracks:
Head Bussa Feat. Pharrell
Git Busy (B Side of Fresh n' Drivin)