It’s been more than seven years since the music world has received the gift of a full-length studio album from Hip-Rock power group N*E*R*D, but the wait is over for those who’ve been biding their time. The group will release their newest project, No_One Ever Really Dies, on December 15.
The trio—Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shae Haley—first announced the album with an out-of-nowhere, guerilla-style promo effort, posting mysterious posters all around Los Angeles, in late October at Tyler the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw music festival.
The first single, “Lemon,” features a rap verse from Rihanna, while the second official single, “1000” featured a guest spot from Future. The overall tone is reportedly a different sound from the genre-bending group.
In an interview with The Guardian, the group gave more information about the creative process behind No_One Ever Really Dies. They talked about how the country’s current political state influenced the direction of the project and more. “You never quite know what’s going to happen next,” Pharrell noted regarding the song’s spontaneous sound. “I want you to be shocked and exhilarated.”
The shooting death of Keith Scott, an unarmed Black man gunned down by police officers in North Carolina, is one of the events that inspired the group’s take on the project. The incident served as the inspiration behind the record “Don’t Don’t Do It,” featuring Kendrick Lamar. “This was something I saw on the news. We have that crazy, crazy man [running the country] but also they have police that shoot unarmed black people the whole time. It rains and they shoot black people. I hid the story in something that’s so jubilant because that way you won’t miss the message.”
The album is pretty feature-heavy, with appearances by the aforementioned Rihanna and Future, as well as Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Andre 3000. But the special guests don’t impact the innovative sounds of N*E*R*D. Pharrell mentioned that he felt a need to become more serious in his music after the commercial success of his song “Happy,” so he brought that same energy to the group when it came time to get back into the studio. “If not now, when? If not me, who?” Pharell told the Guardian, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the news or who’s running my country but it’s a real fucking shit show. I’ve never seen such desperation in my life.”
To read the full interview with The Guardian, check it out here.