Make some room for N.E.R.D
Though ComplexCon is relatively new, it celebrates the culture like no other. On day one of the festival, attendees got to see the truth in that statement when they found themselves at a N.E.R.D listening party. The band’s ComplexCon performance comes days after the release of its comeback single “Lemon” and about three years after thier last performance at Tyler, The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival.
With their funk rock sound, N.E.R.D acquired a following of fans who love a little something extra in their music. The group-of-three — Pharrell, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley — released their debut album In Search Of… in 2001, then released new albums regularly until they went quiet in 2010. While the band’s first two albums were certified gold, their last two (Seeing Sounds in 2008, Nothing in 2010) weren’t as commercially successful.
After no new releases and little news for almost seven years, N.E.R.D debut their new album No_One Ever Really Dies in its entirety.
In an arena jammed packed with fans, N.E.R.D’s performance began with a video, featuring an robotic female voice welcoming fans. “Good evening. Welcome to the N.E.R.D listening party. No_One Ever Really Dies… Track One… ‘Deep Down Body Thirst,'” the voice said before the video switched to audio of Pharrell singing.
“All the people who really love us… We wanted to give you something more than you’d ever expect. The album’s not coming out tomorrow. We giving it to you,” said Pharrell — whose last solo album G I R L went platinum in the U.S. “Yeah, […] You’ll be able to stream it, but you guys… everybody in here with a fucking phone right now, this is yours. This is your moment. You got it before everybody else did.”
No_One Ever Really Dies, which has no definitive release date yet, will reportedly feature 11 songs with features from the likes of Gucci Mane, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Andre 3000. All 11 tracks were played and performed at ComplexCon.
Nodding to Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 revel, N.E.R.D not only elaborately debuted an entire album, complete with art and dancers, but they also showcased their Adidas collection. The dozens of on-stage dancers wore Adidas by N.E.R.D Training Gear collection, proving that it’s worth its price tag (ranging from $25-$100).
No_One Ever Really Dies Track List:
1. Deep Down Body Thirst
2. Lemon ft. Rihanna
3. Voilà ft. Gucci Mane and Wale
4. 1000 ft. Future
5. Don’t Don’t Do It ft. Kendrick Lamar
6. Kites ft. Kendrick Lamar & M.I.A.
8. Lightning Fire Magic Prayer
9. Rollinem 7’s ft. André 3000
10. Lifting You ft. Ed Sheeran
11. Secret Life of Tigers
Stay on topic
While the track list includes some lighthearted songs, N.E.R.D didn’t ignore the hot-button social issue of police brutality. According to Pharrell, “Don’t Do It” featuring Kendrick Lamar addresses the fatal shooting of Keith Scott.
While police dragged their feet on releasing video footage of the 2016 incident, Keith’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, released her self-recorded video of a Charlotte police officer fatally shooting her husband. In the video, she repeats several times for officers to “don’t shoot him.” Despite her pleas, her husband — who had difficulty communicating due to brain damaged suffered in an accident — was killed.
At ComplexCon, Pharrell reveled that his reaction to the heartbreaking video inspired “Don’t Do It.”
“I thought to myself: ‘She knows her husband is gonna die,'” the “Happy” artist said. “And I knew in my mind, man, that’s a chorus. The only thing that video is missing is melody and music.”
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