Friday 6 October 2023

The Neptunes 2001

Nivea - Run Away (I wanna Be With You) (2001)
So I ended up here at the music video for this Neptunes production from twenty two years ago performed by forgotten million dollar signing pop R&B star Nivea because I'd just watched a disturbing mini documentary about this charismatic sensation and her stalled career.

Then I started thinking I wonder if all these wonderful Neptunes tracks, that were so beloved at the time from the late 90s and early 00s, still stand up. Are they revered, going to be revered or will they just be tossed in the ephemeral pop culture heap that I imagine every pop, rap and r&b tune released this year will be? 

It had me wondering whether this music was the last moment where pop was created with an inbuilt afterlife or did they just miss that boat so as to never enjoy a resurgence of interest ever again. My previous theories and cut-off points of cultural relevance for particular dance genres and hip hop have somewhat shifted so I'm not really sure. Music just by being released in the 21st century does tend to give material a certain unintentional disdained stain. Once upon a time I would have really cared about these ideas and had ready to go arguments but now...

I still stand by my rock theory that no rock group who formed post-1993 are able to be seriously considered for the historic rock era.

Run Away still sounds pretty damn nifty. Not just a wicked hypnotic Neptunes beat but great performances from Pusha T and Nivea.

The Liks - Best U Can (2001)
The beats here coupled with Pharrell's contribution had me flashing back In Search Of... era NERD and surprisingly that was a good thing. As in I wanted to get out my old cobwebby cd that if I recall correctly was really the last cd I owned to get a hammering as it was loved so much by everyone for its party anthem vibes.

Dunno if I recall any other Liks tunes but they might have been worth checking out if this is anything to go by. Apparently members of nu-metal groups Deftones and Linkin Park do cameos in this video.

N.O.R.E. -  Grimy (2001)
Now this Neptunes track is fucking insane. Psychedelic, minimal, hard, crisp. intense, seemingly simple and deliciously catchy. I mean the entire beat is the hook innit. This is still irresistible!  

Fabolos - Young'n (Holla Back) (2001)
Don't recall this one at all. Pharrell contributes Sympathy For The Devil "WOO HOOS" I wonder if he had to pay Mick Jagger for that? Or were they just generic howls? Then at the 2.50 mark Timbaland enters although he's not credited.

Usher - I Don't Know (2001)
This is still an infectious banger. A precursor to Yeah really. 

Ray J feat. Lil Kim - Wait A Minute (2001)
Perhaps we can never forgive Ray J for helping foist the fucking Kardashians upon us by fucking Kim on videotape but his other historic moment is undeniably ace. This is peak Neptunes tuneage pre-Pharrell's face fatigue era. This beat is so good they loved it so much they basically recycled it for Lapdance, one of their own In Search Of... hits. Hindsight's a funny thing, it tells us Wait A Minute was wasted on this tool. Then again who's not a tool in the music industry? So who gives a fuck.

Philly's Most Wanted - Cross The Border (2001)
The latin influenced riddim here is utterly contagious. There is no way you are not bumpin', noddin' and toe tappin' to this genius monster jam despite what you may think of the reprehensible lyrical content. Cross The Border is insistent instantaneous infectious pop. However do you want to rewind? Or are you happy to never hear it again?

Jadakiss feat. Pharrell - Knock Yourself Out (2001)
The sexual "ooh aahs" here are so stupid it would be absurd to think this was meant to actually be sexy but the beat is irrefutably stellar. Peak performance from Jadakiss too. No need for thinking here. Hip-hop to tear the club up doesn't get any better!

Britney Spears - I'm A Slave 4 U (2001)
This may have helped usher in the retarded hyper-sexual pop era. Then again that had been a project started many years prior. I mean my dad thought the back cover to Madonna's Like A Virgin LP was outrageous soft porn not fit for teenagers eyeballs. Who knew that by the 2010s primary school kids would be able to stream the most depraved pornographic videos imaginable and adults would barely even batter an eyelid. 

I'm A Slave 4 U is peak Brittney combined with peak Neptunes. She's wearing sexy knickers on the outside of her raunchy rock star leather pants like she's a sexual superhero.

...So the jury's still out for me with regard to The Neptune's legacy. I mean these beats were legendary, cool and innovative at the time and are still fresh and fun now. I can't really gage the perception of significance placed upon them today though. They obviously have their place in the history of rap, r&b and pop because they happened. 

The Neptunes were so ubiquitous they absolutely owned the radio and music video shows in 2001/02 particularly. Once their inventive heyday was done by the late 00s was there any value left in these old beats? I mean once the next generation of beat science masters arrived to take the crown what purpose did these beats serve? The over exposure and saturation of The Neptunes aesthetic in the early 00s left people fatigued of such a sound and a massively popular resurgence in interest in these sonic artefacts hasn't really come to pass.

Still that was a very good half hour of tuneage, even if it wasn't as nostalgic as expected. There was a vague sense of of meaninglessness permeating these tunes. That's pop music for ya, however pop music nostalgia probably isn't meant to be the tunes from when you were at the end of your twenties. I can understand that it's much deeper feels when songs are from childhood, teenage years or even your early twenties. Plus for me those eras all happened to be in the historic music era of the 20th century. 

*This is just a nine track selection of The Neptunes output for 2001. These tunes are probably not even 15% of what they produced in this incredibly prolific year. 

No comments:

Post a Comment