Nothing (N.E.R.D album)

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Nothing
Studio album by N.E.R.D
Released November 2, 2010 (2010-11-02)
(see release history)
Genre Funk, hip hop, alternative rock
Length 36:51
Label Star Trak, Interscope
Producer The Neptunes, Daft Punk, Jimmy Iovine, Tommy Hittz
N.E.R.D chronology
Seeing Sounds
(2008)
Nothing
(2010)
Singles from Nothing
  1. "Hot-n-Fun"
    Released: July 18, 2010 (2010-07-18)
  2. "Hypnotize U"
    Released: October 27, 2010 (2010-10-27)

Nothing is the fourth studio album by American funk rock band N.E.R.D, released November 2, 2010 on Star Trak Entertainment and Interscope Records in the United States. On October 17, 2010, the standard edition and the deluxe edition of the album became available for pre-order on iTunes.

Concept[edit]

"We needed to align ourselves and make ourselves parallel and congruent with what society is feeling," Williams tells Billboard.com. "There's a lot going on and a lot of things people don't necessarily understand. We have a Tea Party. We have conservative Democrats. We have liberals that are like neo-liberals and nothing like you thought they'd be. There's so many different hybrid sects of people and issues...

"So we thought why not make a timeless album that's kind of a time capsule, so 10 years from now people look at that album and go, 'I remember that era. That's when the 'Nothing' album came out.' I just wanted to make some good music that would affect people in a good way." Williams says it wasn't easy. N*E*R*D worked on "a previous body of work which was really good, but it wasn't timeless to me. I didn't feel like we were pushing ourselves as much as we could. We needed to perfect the sound, so we kept pushing the date back until it was right." The result includes "a lot of vintage sounds...The album is very '68-'72, '73, America meets Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Moody Blues."[1]

Recording[edit]

The impetus was partially based on more wholeheartedly embracing digital audio workstation programs such as Logic Studio Pro, while using new tools to invoke a spirit of emotionally-responsive late-'60s/early-'70s psychedelic pop with the final product.

Hugo had previously adopted many in-the-box techniques, and Williams always had a backpack to tote around various fashionable gadgetry, so adding in a Macbook Pro and portable MIDI controllers was no stretch. Certainly, not having a dozen pieces of outboard gear to have to relocate or rent (not to mention rewire) was a relief to Coleman and second engineer Mike Larson, who split N*E*R*D sessions between such facilities as South Beach Studios, Midnight Blue Studios in Miami, and The Neptunes' own Hovercraft Studios in Virginia Beach (Hugo's home base for mixing elements in to the base).

With ideas no longer waiting to be actualized with bodies sitting in front of the Korgs and beats synced to the ProTools clock, the composing of Nothing involved entire rhythm and chord progressions plus sequenced instrumentation ideas (courtesy of ESX24 virtual sampler libraries) being brought to Coleman's Pro Tools HD rig to form the bed of tracks. Monitoring with the Apogee Ensemble, the team would bounce the tracks down and import them, at which time Coleman would begin to apply signature tweaks to get a characteristic snap and thump.

The Access Virus TI still has a noticeable presence on Nothing, and live overdubs are blended into the programmed environment to reinforce it. Most often these guitar and bass licks come from Hugo, and sometimes Coleman, run into the Pro Tools DI, and then are processed through Line 6 Amp Farm and Tech21 SansAmp.

In short, Williams often lays down the initial patterns he has been playing out in his head (including everything from clavinet to handclaps), Hugo replays keys and adds tones such as "angry saxophone noise" (his description), and then Williams and Haley track lead vocals, harmonies, beatbox, and other percussive sounds. When needed, different drums are auditioned and triggered from disk, but there was no recording of additional live kits during the 2010 sessions. Finally, tone sculpting commences. "It's a different process [to be more virtual], and it does make some things easier," says Hugo. "There are also songs on the album that are more straightforward in rhythm, more four-on-the-floor, so there wasn't as much time in drum editing."

This time around, songwriting duties were shared between both Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, unlike their last effort Seeing Sounds where Williams had the majority of songwriting credits, with the exception of "Hot N' Fun", "Hypnotize U" (co written between Pharrell and Daft Punk) and "I Wanna Jam". (Co-written between Pharrell and Shae).[2] However, "Ride That Thang" which features Fam-Lay, is co-written by Texas-born singer, Tanya Tucker, and Michael Paynter, whom both co-wrote the song, "Love the Fall" by Paynter.

Singles[edit]

Along with these singles, N*E*R*D has also released a few viral videos for 2 additional singles, one for "Help Me" and also for "Life as a Fish" which can be seen on the BBC Ice Cream website.

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number twenty one on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 20,000 copies.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[4]
The A.V. Club C[5]
Entertainment Weekly B+[6]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[7]
musicOMH 3/5 stars[8]
NME (6/10)[9]
The Observer (favorable)[10]
Pitchfork Media (4.1/10)[11]
PopMatters (7/10)[12]
Sputnikmusic 1.5/5 stars[13]

Nothing received mixed to positive reviews from most music critics.[14] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 62, based on 19 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[14] Rave Magazine said, "Pharrell Williams should either stop letting his wang co-write his songs or start giving it a credit in the liner notes" and gave it two and a half stars out of five.[15]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Party People" (featuring T.I.) Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, Clifford Harris, Jr. The Neptunes 3:52
2. "Hypnotize U"   Williams, Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo Daft Punk, The Neptunes (add.) 4:16
3. "Help Me"   Williams, Hugo, Jimmy Iovine The Neptunes 4:07
4. "Victory"   Williams, Hugo The Neptunes 3:42
5. "Perfect Defect"   Williams, Hugo The Neptunes 3:42
6. "I've Seen the Light/Inside of Clouds"   Williams, Hugo, Nathan Payton The Neptunes, Tommy Hittz 4:25
7. "God Bless Us All"   Williams, Hugo The Neptunes 3:29
8. "Life as a Fish"   Williams, Hugo The Neptunes 2:36
9. "Nothing on You"   Williams, Hugo The Neptunes 3:18
10. "Hot-n-Fun" (featuring Nelly Furtado) Williams The Neptunes 3:24
Deluxe edition

Charts[edit]

Charts (2010) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[16] 55
Belgian (Flanders) Albums Chart[17] 56
Belgian (Flanders) Alternative Albums[17] 14
Belgian (Flanders) Heatseekers[17] 20
Belgian (Wallonia) Albums Chart[18] 40
Belgian (Wallonia) Heatseekers[18] 3
Dutch Albums Chart[19] 31
French Albums Chart[20] 43
French Digital Albums Chart[20] 4
Swiss Albums Chart[21] 32
UK Albums Chart[22] 83
UK R&B Albums Chart[23] 8
U.S. Billboard 200[24] 21
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[25] 5
Canadian Albums Chart[26] 56

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Nothing adapted from Allmusic[27]

Release history[edit]

Region Release Edition Label
United Kingdom October 29, 2010 Standard (CD)
Deluxe (Digital download)
Polydor
United States November 2, 2010 Standard (CD / digital download)
Deluxe (CD / digital download)
Interscope

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pharrell Describes New N*E*R*D Album As 'A Time Capsule'". Billboard.com. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  2. ^ "EQEM - Nothing Is Sacred: N.E.R.D Rewrites Rules To Keep Their Cool". Eqmag.com. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  3. ^ Jacobs, Allen (2010-11-10). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 11/7/2010". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group.
  4. ^ Kellman, Andy (2010-11-02). "Nothing - N.E.R.D.". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  5. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (November 9, 2010). "N.E.R.D.: Nothing". The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  6. ^ Wete, Brad (November 5, 2010). "Nothing Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.
  7. ^ Weiss, Jeff (November 2, 2010). "Album review: N.E.R.D.'s 'Nothing'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.
  8. ^ Clarke, Helen (November 1, 2010). "N*E*R*D - Nothing". musicOMH. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  9. ^ Cashmore, Pete (November 5, 2010). "Album Reviews - Album Review: NERD - Nothing (Interscope)". NME. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  10. ^ Empire, Kitty (October 30, 2010). "N*E*R*D: Nothing - review". The Observer. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  11. ^ Greene, Jayson (November 5, 2010). "N.E.R.D.: Nothing". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  12. ^ Amidon, David (November 3, 2010). "N*E*R*D: Nothing". PopMatters. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  13. ^ Klapper, Rudy (November 3, 2010). "N.E.R.D. - Nothing (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  14. ^ a b "Nothing Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-02-23
  15. ^ "Brisbane Street Press - N.E.R.D – Nothing". Rave Magazine. 2010-11-30. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  16. ^ "Chartifacts - Week Commencing: 15th November 2010". Australian Recording Industry Association. November 15, 2010. Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c "N.E.R.D. - Nothing" (in Dutch). ultratop.be/nl. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "N.E.R.D. - Nothing" (in French). ultratop.be/fr. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  19. ^ "N.E.R.D. - Nothing" (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Tops : Shakira et la taupe dominent toujours" (in French). Chartsinfrance.net. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  21. ^ "N.E.R.D. - Nothing". swisscharts.com. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Official UK Albums Top 100 - 3rd March 2012 | The UK Charts | Top 40 | Official Charts Company". Theofficialcharts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  23. ^ "R&B Albums Top 40 - 3rd March 2012". Official Charts. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  24. ^ "Music Albums, Top 200 Albums & Music Album Charts". Billboard.com. 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  25. ^ "Top Hip-Hop and R&B Albums & Charts" (in (German)). Billboard.com. 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  26. ^ "CANOE - JAM! Music SoundScan Charts". Jam.canoe.ca. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  27. ^ Credits: Nothing. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.