Home Read Classic Album Review: N.E.R.D. | Fly or Die

Classic Album Review: N.E.R.D. | Fly or Die

Pharrell Williams and his bandmates let their freak flags fly high once again.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


N.E.R.D., in case you didn’t know, are anything but 98-pound weaklings.

This audacious hip-hop trio are based around the nucleus of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams — aka the Grammy-winning Neptunes, who have crafted hits for everyone from Nelly and Jay-Z to Britney and Justin. But when these two music-biz heavyweights are joined by bandmate Shay in N.E.R.D. (it supposedly stands for No-one Ever Really Dies), they flip the script and make music only for themselves. Fly or Die, like its 2001 predecessor In Search Of …, is a freewheeling musical mish-mash of sounds and styles that are more suited to rocking your headphones than rushing the hit parade. Rock and pop, metal and jazz, punk and funk, soul and R&B, rap and hip-hop; these are the building blocks that N.E.R.D. combine like so many musical Legos to construct the 13 tracks on this 55-minute disc. Toss in plenty of off-kilter and off-colour humour — “Her ass is a spaceship I want to ride,” proclaims first single She Wants to Move — and you have a disc that sits squarely between the freak-flag-flying fare of Funkadelic and the hip-hop hilarity of OutKast. Not to mention one that kicks sand squarly in the face of musical convention. That’s right: It’s the revenge of N.E.R.D.