Label: Virgin Records
Are N.E.R.D. hipsters mocking hip-hop, or rap insiders copying hipster culture? That's the central dilemma behind In Search Of.... Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams (along with third wheel Shay) clumsily parody rap tropes ("Lapdance") and pioneer an influential, keyboard-inflected pop sound ("Rock Star") that aspired to Beck's alt-rock whimsy and Steely Dan's jazz-pop angst. Meanwhile, Pharrell's emotive vocals on "Run to the Sun" and "Bobby James" transcend the album's unresolved theme. This second version features Spymob, a Neptunes pop-rock discovery and backing band to the trio's role play.