BEVERLY HILLS, California — The Neptunes like to keep a superstar or two on their agenda, so who's next for the ubiquitous production duo?
"Hi, J. Lo," Pharrell Williams said Thursday, smiling for an MTV News camera. "That's all I can say."
Fortunately, the hitmaker had a lot more to say about his six Grammy nominations (see "Jay-Z, Beyonce, Outkast, Pharrell Nab Most Grammy Nominations") — six more than he had last year (see "The Only Thing The Neptunes Can't Produce Is A Grammy").
"It's crazy, it's crazy," said Williams. "Who doesn't remember Michael Jackson at the Grammys? Who doesn't remember Lauryn Hill on the Grammys? Who doesn't remember Norah Jones? ... Those were incredible moments, and you never forget that as a kid 'cause you get to see your favorite artists, and nowadays [artists] come onstage and just do something that's very different from performing. You get to see their personalities, what they are really thankful for. ... It's great."
Williams, who also had a hand in producing several Grammy-nominated songs and albums by the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, is especially happy to see hip-hop and R&B so strongly recognized, although he doesn't expect it to last.
"Everything happens in cycles," he said. "I mean, rock and roll will definitely come back and tower over hip-hop. And then hip-hop will come back and tower over that. You'll see country music rise in a few years — if not sooner, 'cause I've got a [country] artist named Christie Carter who is incredible. It happens and it's always happened since the history of the Grammys. It just rotates. Something becomes hot, and something else cools down."
Williams' forecast of a rock and roll renaissance may explain the Neptunes' latest project, Gwen Stefani's solo album (see "Gwen Stefani Turns To Bandmate For Aid After Freak-Out").
"Gwen is a monster; she's beautiful to look at, but in here she is a monster," Williams said, pointing to his heart. "We like to go in different directions, me and [Neptunes production partner] Chad [Hugo], and Gwen is totally with that."
Before Stefani's record is released, the Neptunes will put out a little rock music of their own, with N.E.R.D.'s second album, Fly or Die, due in March (see "Need A Neptunes Beat? You Might Have To Wait Awhile").
"I named it after one of our biggest fans," Williams said. "Her name is Mildred and she has cancer, and the only choice that she has with her spirit is to keep on pushing, to fly or die. And the only thing we [can do] is to find a cure for it."