NEW YORK — Attention rappers, R&B singers and adventurous rockers: If you’re looking for new beats from the Neptunes, they’re busy taking care of business in their own house and might not be available to provide you with their services. Well, that’s not exactly true, but Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo have been spending much of their time lately finishing up projects on their Star Trak record label, as well as with their side-band, N.E.R.D.
“We’re just concentrating on our label right now,” Chad said from the Hit Factory studios on Tuesday, where he and Pharrell were mixing the last song for Jay-Z’s The Black Album. “We’ve got the Clipse, Kelis and Fam-Lay.”
The Clipse have most of their new album, Hell Hath No Fury, recorded for an expected spring release (see “Clipse Take R. Kelly Out Of His Element And Into Hell“ ). “There’s a lot of songs on there in that really raw, stripped down [kind of] way — kind of in the vein of ’Grindin’,” Chad said.
Meanwhile, Kelis is still putting the finishing touches on her album, Tasty, due out on December 9 (see “Kelis Turning Heads Again With Her Tasty ’Milkshake’ “ ). Though the Neptunes, who discovered the singer, are not producing the entire album this time around, they still have to keep an eye on how it’s shaping up since it’s being released through Star Trak. “I wish we could have gotten some more songs on there, but she’s her own artist and is entitled to use whoever she wants to,” Chad explained. “She’s eclectic. She knows more of what she wants. She’s been around to know she’s making her own lane now.”
As for Fam-Lay, the laid-back, old-school-sounding rapper the Neptunes featured on their Clones album, Chad said that album is coming together nicely. “He’s got that Virginia drawl,” he said, “which is fun to play with.”
There are other projects floating around the Neptunes camp right now, including rapper Free (from BET’s 106 & Park), and their own rock band, N.E.R.D., who are about three songs away from turning in their next album, Fly or Die. But Chad acknowledged that he may not know everything that’s on the list. “Sometimes I find myself in the studio doing a song and I don’t know who it’s for,” he said.
While Pharrell keeps busy in the spotlight, Chad said he likes working on music in the studio. He’s producing two songs on his own for a singer named Sierra Swan, whom he describes as “an Annie Lennox type of chick,” and will start working on ideas for a new album by his old friend, Kenna.