N*E*R*D continues to get attention for their new album -- which is extra dope -- by being featured on the cover of this month's Complex Magazine, which is their Style & Design issue.
Before the interview goes into a Q&A format, the interviewer, Brendan Frederick, proposes his theory on why the Neptunes continually churn out #1 hits for people they produce for while N*E*R*D routinely flies below the charts' radar:
"How is it that their beats for-hire business has been a gold mine for years, yet their do-for-self mission has been so hit-and-miss? Easy answer: Weirdness is a risky business. When they provide the backdrop and let someone else deliver the message, they’re a novelty, and an infectious one. When they’re delivering their own message, though, it’s a lot harder—being at the vanguard is lonely when no one can match your speed. ...
Bottom line: Weirdness is the cousin of genius. Madness and artistry go hand in hand, and it’s what’s made them design icons in addition to just musical ones (LV, BBC, Bape—should we go on?). And most important, they’re just being themselves. You might not understand it, but you gotta respect it. N.E.R.D. = life, son!"
I think I have to agree whole heartedly.
Frederick poses some really good questions to the group, too.
Q: Musically, you guys aren’t exactly mainstream, but you’re probably the biggest producers that ever made it from the world of hip-hop. But then from a style standpoint, it seems you try to keep a proximity to the exclusive shit. You don’t have BBC brand in Macy’s, which you could. Why do you feel that’s the way to go for clothes, as opposed to how you handle your music?Make sure you check out the magazine as it arrives on newsstands.
Pharrell: Certain things are meant to be amongst a smaller populace. You don’t want everything you do to be ridiculous, you know? Exclusivity is a good thing. It keeps it close to you.
Q: But at the same time, a lot of styles you guys pioneered, and Nigo started, sort of trickled down to a lot of the mall brands. Does that worry you?
Pharrell: I’m not here to take credit. I’m just really appreciative of the opportunity. The most important part is the process.
Q: Everyone knows what
Chadand Pharrell do from the Neptunes. But what does Shay do?
Shay: I just try to push them to the full extreme and have them do records that they normally wouldn’t do. That’s why we’re always like, “
Neptunesis what they do, and N.E.R.D. is who we are.”
Q: Let’s talk about the Ice Cream shit a little bit. How difficult has it been to find acceptance in the skateboard world?
Pharrell: I never really gave it that kind of thought—the only thing that really matters to me is that I’m offering them an opportunity I didn’t have. I wasn’t good enough, by the way.
Q: To skate?
Pharrell: When you hear “Skateboard P,” that’s just like in the hood, skating around. They never called me that, but that’s the name I wish I would have had. When I was a kid, I never had a nickname; it was always just Pharrell.
Q: Back when Clones came out, there was talk about you guys making a movie called Dude, We’re Going to
Pharrell: Are you trying to torture me right now?
Q: No, I’m just curious what happened to that.
Pharrell: It was just bad. Not surrounded by the right people. Just a shitty arrangement. Those guys were nice, but I didn’t know what was appropriate. But now I’m working with Joel Silver so we’re producing something. I’m doing some television things with McG.
Q: P, you often rap—and sometimes sing—about a very hyper-consumerist lifestyle. Do you feel conflicted about that when we’re in a recession?
Pharrell: That was one little small era. All of that is just the nerdy guy going, “Ha ha!” But when’s the last time you heard me rap about that stuff? At this moment, right now it’s all about N.E.R.D. and it’s about energy. I’m just inspired by that. When I was doing that kind of stuff before, it was because I felt like I was doing something different, but in essence it wasn’t really. It was the same shit I’d been hearing.
There is also a video of behind the scenes footage at the interview and photo shoot for the magazine's cover.