Revenge of the N.E.R.D.S.
interview by Meshack Blaq
photos by TigerBomb
How many kids did you know in High school that weren't "Cool" or belonged to the "In crowd". You know, the cats who weren't
exactly on the football or basketball team, but rather in the Honor Society or the halftime band? The ones you saw but never
knew their names, or didn't really bother to know because they were always quiet and to themselves? Only to find out years
later that they became the Bill Gates' and Donald Trumps of today? In the world of Hip Hop this translates to one thing clearly
on the Horizon. They are a duo known only as Neptunes. But for the sake of this Interview, we'll call this the REVENGE OF THE
KRON: Let's just clear some assumptions up right quick. The first one is that Neptunes;
Pharell & Chad produced the whole first album by NORE.
PHARELL Who said that?
KRON: That's just the general assumption.
PHARELL Really? We did two songs for this album and on the first album we did "Super
Thug". On the second album we did "Oh No" and this other song called "Illegal Business".
KRON: I thought I'd see you guys at the release party tonight.
CHAD Actually, we stopped through.
PHARELL It was too wild though. That's Nore's world. It's a wild world!
KRON: How did you guys hook up in the first place?
PHARELL Through Malik (the former publicist at Tommy Boy, now artist manager to various
up & comers).
KRON: What did Nore think when he first heard your music, your production, and your sound?
CHAD Everybody at first was surprised because at that time our sound was totally fresh.
So everybody was kinda skeptical at first.
KRON: Another general assumption is that you guys are from New York.
PHARELL Nope, VA baby! And I Love it. Virginia Beach! I Love where I'm from.
KRON: What's the hometown affiliation with T.R.- Teddy Riley?
CHAD Well we started out there. I wouldn't say we were born there, but he taught us a
couple of the ropes to get us started. I would say we got our start there doin' some stuff. Madd Respects!
KRON: Did you guys ever cross paths with Timbaland & Missy, or even D'Angelo?
PHARELL Totally! I was in a group with Timbaland. Me, him, Magoo, & this Kid Larry. We
were S.B.I.-Surrounded By Idiots. This was back in the De La/Tribe Called Quest era; the Native Tongues era.
KRON: Besides Nore's most notable Hits, what else have you guys done?
PHARELL Ol' Dirty Bastard's new Single called "Got Cha Money". It just came out, Fresh!
It's also featuring Kelis. We also did two more songs. One features Chris Rock. Then we did Ma$e's "Lookin' At Me". We did a couple
of remixxes for The Lox and Brand Nubian.
KRON: One of the things I read about you guys was that you don't use sampling at all.
PHARELL We can appreciate sampling, but we just don't do it. There are great samplers out
there, like Primo...
KRON: So that Ma$e joint didn't have no samples?
KRON: How did you two first meet? Since you're not from New York, what was your point of
CHAD We were in a gifted & talented school back in Virginia. We were real young, like in
KRON: So what, were you math and the other one the science Kid?
PHARELL We were in band!
CHAD It was a musically gifted & talented school. But after class and after rehearsal we
would go over some of our own stuff. In school we were playin' "Mary Had A Little Lamb", but when I got home from elementary school, I'd
take my saxophone and teach myself shit that was on the radio.
KRON: But didn't the other kids look at you like some kind of freak?
PHARELL No, because we didn't look at ourselves like freaks. We just looked at it like this
was our own world and this is what we wanted to do.
KRON: So Chad, what was my Photographer (Animal) asking you about outside?
CHAD He asked me about where I was from. And I was explaining that I was raised in Virginia.
I don't know if you know, but Virginia has one of the largest military bases in the United States. But then the Philippines also has one
of the biggest U.S. military bases also, as well as Korea. And that's how my parents came together. That's where I was born, in Korea.
There's a whole `nother story behind that, but I don't wanna get into it. But as far as the whole background thing goes; the work ethic
that I learned from my family, seeing what they had to endure is what motivates me to follow through with what I do.
KRON: So Pharell, in this latest Nore video for "Oh No" you're rhymin' on the bridge part
between the verses. Is that like a debut of what's to come when you guys drop your Neptunes album?
PHARELL No. That's just mere support for my Man Nore. That's all. The Neptunes project is
under a different name. That's N.E.R.D.
CHAD No one Ever Really Dies
PHARELL And it's guitarless Rock. Digital Rock.
CHAD Yea, you gotta straighten that out. `Cause some people said that it was "The Nerds" or
PHARELL Or Nothing Ever Really Dies. It's No one Ever Really Dies. It's a belief that we have.
It's like Hope for those that have lost family members, Loved ones, and just fuckin' friends. No one Ever Really Dies: it's based off a
theory that Einstein was quoted as saying. It's like, "Energy never dies. It just transforms and passes on." That's how we feel about
life, period. Sorta like Hope, Man. An indirect message of hope.
KRON: So what about the Kelis project? She tells me that you guys did her whole project.
PHARELL Yea, we did. It's done.
CHAD The name of her album is called Kaleidoscope, and it describes how each song has it's
own color and it's own emotion. For each song there's a change in the vibes and mood as well as musical arrangement to fit the picture
we're trying to paint.
PHARELL Yea, Kaleidoscope as in different flavors; different lenses. Different shapes;
different feelings, different emotions.
KRON: So what do all the tattoos represent all over your arms?
PHARELL Just protection, Man. I Love Angels and I Love what they represent. Even though, if
you really, Really, REALLY do the history; you'll find that... (Long ass pause) Angels; the whole idea of an Angel is like... (Stopping
himself) Nah, that's too deep. But we all need protection, you know? Like, bein' a Nerd; bein' a person that thinks the way I do. It's
not Thugs, `cause I don't live in that world. That's not necessarily my atmosphere. And that's not in my surroundings; it's not in my
circumference. It's not in my biome or niche. I need protection from like, the wild shit that seeps in my brain.
KRON: Chad, how do you feel about being involved in a the Hip Hop Game that has largely been a
African American/Latin American influenced Artform representing an Asian/South Pacific presence that's been kinda silent, but still
CHAD I mean, as far as Racism goes; I try not to let Racism be an issue. It's not that I'm
ignoring it because I wanna contribute as much as I can to the music that I do. And I want it to be know who I am and what I am, for
what I do. But I don't have to stand up and wave a flag crazily, and try to make a big whole fiasco about it by sayin', "Riot &
Revolution". I'm just here to make some Dope Music. Take me for what I am and take me for what I do. Let me contribute what I can and
leave it at that. If you like it, you'll like me.
PHARELL It's not about our Races. The music that we make is for a much bigger cause. When
you get into the Race issue, you're indirectly sectioning us off. And you're causing a big fracture in something that needs to be like a
big band-aid. We're seeking such a bigger cause; if we can pull everybody together and everybody hears what the fuck we gotta say; well
then there's everybody right there, and you don't have to worry about the Race, an' shit.
CHAD And you can hear it in our music.
KRON: Do either of you two Rap as MC's?
PHARELL Used to.
CHAD At heart, he's more than an MC. Pharell you Rap, but it's more than that.
PAHRELL I used to, Man. But I don't really look at it like that. I'm tellin' you Man; I'm
not sayin' I'm a Politician or nothin'. But for Real, I just wanna take the time to say that while you're living, you gotta be aware of
classifications and categories that they put you in. But when you die, you gotta worry about where your Spirit goes. Either way, it has
nothing to do with Race. I think that whole Racism shit is some shit that they put in your heads because they know how society is ran,
and they know how to fuck the newts. And it's like, if you put two best friends on an island with no food forever, they're gonna become
enemies and find small reasons why they're living miserable. And they're gonna blame each other. They're not gonna realize that they're
two gerbils in a fucking cage, represented by an island. What I'm saying to you is that while we're living, we
need to forget that they've put in this Racism. You need to realize that there's the Classism shit.
`Cause whether you know it or not, there are fucking Black people on Capital Hill that'll do you just as wrong as a white person
might've historically done you. Or an Asian person that will treat you fucked up in their native land. It's like, wherever you go that's
what it's about. But what it's truly about is money. It's about the money which dictates your class. Money doesn't change your color.
It doesn't change anything but your worth, which is based off of a popular established view of how much a piece of paper is worth.
Which is really supposed to be an I.O.U. But what the world has evolved to is so complex and so deep, that you can be intelligently
wrong. That's how far evolved and fucked up this world is. You can be intelligently wrong. No offense to atheists or whatever, but
they are some of the most smartest people you may ever meet in you entire life. And I'm like, why are they so fuckin' brilliant until
you die and see that there is a God? Until you die and see that there is an afterlife.
So while you're living, you have to escape Classism and just be a human to enjoy your life.
CHAD You gotta know there's no escaping Classism. But you definitely gotta enjoy life.
PHARELL When you die, you gotta go to where all the good Spirits go. And either way,
it has nothing to do with Race when you're dead. And it has nothing to do with Race when you live.
KRON: So are you guys members of the Neptune Society like the Poseidon Adventure?
PHARELL At first we were on this real big water kick. So it was as deep as where King
Neptune resides in the water. But then that was too limiting because we were still on earth. And there was so much more to existence
CHAD (Cutting his partner off)... than Neptune the planet as well.
PHARELL The planet, the solar system, or this whole universe.
CHAD You've got inner space and outer space. And we're like everything in between.
PHARELL Neptunes as in "Out There".
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