Friday, June 12, 2009

The return of Sonic the Hedgehog Neptunes!

Lookin' good?

I probably wouldn't blab about The Neptunes or Timbaland as much if any of the newer superproducers they've influenced lived up to or surpassed their talent. Fact of the matter, though, is that at this point guys like Polow da Don, Danjahandz, and The-Dream's cohorts aren't close to either of 'em in their primes, and anyone who thinks they are probably doesn't have a very discerning ear when it comes to synth-happy mainstream goodness. The hip-pop equivalent of, say, lumping DJ Premier's best production work in with lesser beats cut from the same overall cloth, and saying it's all the same "hot shit." The 'Tunes's best material transcends your typical "hot" radio pablum these days, and works as more than just party music to enjoy while smashed. It's pop art, man. Or whatever Kanye calls it.

Now I'm not gonna say this latest Clipse single "I'm Good" ranks with their best 'Tunes-helmed ditties, but mostly I'm just happy that Pharrell's proving in the Age of Gaga that it's still possible to make flashy shit that doesn't sound like FutureSex/LoveSounds for 10-year olds. Elements of the beat recall certain problems that have plagued a lot of Pharrell's recent work -- fairly thin drums and keyboards -- but what saves everything is that P's still nice with the chord changes when he actually decides to use some kind of melody in his beats. Plus the zig-zagging synth line on crack (similar to Jay-Z's "I Know") prevents things from getting too loungey, another one of those late-period Neptunes issues.

I dig the hollowed-out, desolate sound Pharrell brought to Hell Hath No Fury as much as the next guy, but truth is dude can kill that smooth glossy style just as well when he wants to. So, count me in as someone who won't necessarily mind if this is the overall vibe to expect from the Neptunes beats on the new Clipse album. 'Sides, a break from apocalyptic Clipse ain't necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, and the verses are whatever, but I'm not big on the Thornton brothers' rapping even on their best days. So I'm good.

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