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Music by Pharrell and N.E.R.D doesn’t simply go in one ear and out the other. Instead it elevates your mind and opens your eyes to the world around you. Luckily for Shirley Ju, she was able to hear some of their socially-conscious music live at ComplexCon the same week they released their latest track, “Lemon” ft. Rihanna.
Written By: Shirley Ju
November 17, 2017
After a long and overwhelming (yet extremely fulfilling and eventful) day at ComplexCon November 4, we entered the massive Long Beach Convention Center arena. One look at the N.E.R.D stage setup, which included four strategically placed neon-colored cars, and we soon realized that we were about to witness history. Whether you were an artist, exhibitor, press, GA…it didn’t matter. Saturday night, we all united as fans.
I have to give it up one time for team Complex. They LEGITIMATELY set the bar for all things music, fashion, art, culture, sneakers and food. I’m not kidding when I say this: I think they successfully got every single person in the industry out to their event.
When the week of ComplexCon rolled around, Pharrell, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley proceeded to release “Lemon,” their first song in seven years.
Not only are the “Lemon” visuals a sure contender for Video of The Year (thanks to Mette Towley’s dance moves), but the record also features one of the baddest bitches in the game: Rihanna.
Upon its release hip-hop fans and political activists alike found security in Pharrell’s verse on “Lemon.”
Truth to be told, if it wasn’t for Genius.com, I would have missed this myself. Pharrell flexes his pen game by addressing conscious-heavy issues such as gun control and world peace. Before the song even begins, you hear Pharrell on the intro stating: “The truth will set you free. But first, it’ll piss you off.”
This plays directly with the title of the new album, No_One Ever Really Dies. Pharrell’s lines, “Hate! Keep askin’ how I feel ’bout guns… Hate! There’s a light and dark army, which side you choose? Oh… Hate! If not now then when?… Hate! And if not me then who?” is a call to the world to get their shit together. We hear you, Pharrell.
After “Lemon” finished, Pharrell left fans in a frenzy. While some were upset that they wouldn’t be hearing old-school hits like “She Wants to Move” and “Everybody Nose,” hypebeasts like me were ecstatic. Being a sucker for listening parties in general, I had to convince those surrounding me that we were hearing the highly-anticipated N.E.R.D album before the rest of the world.
Lit was an understatement.
The third song, “Voila” featured Gucci Mane and Wale, who was seen throughout ComplexCon on Saturday. The next one, “1000” featured Future and was explosive to say the least. Halfway through the set Pharrell hopped on the mic to state, “No_one ever really dies,” which was followed by a hard-hitting beat.
Dancers were wildin’ out in leopard onesies all-over the stage and in the crowd too. Everything was on point. Every detail was planned out and executed perfectly.
As if that was not enough, the next two records featured the G.O.A.T himself: Kendrick Lamar. During one of their tracks, “Don’t Do It” Pharrell gave a full-blown speech:
“So the song that we’re about to perform right now, well they’re about to perform and you’re about to hear, is called ‘Don’t Don’t Do It,’ stated Pharrell.
Pharrell continued by stating, “and the reason why is because, I was watching the news last year and in Raleigh, North Carolina, there was a gentleman by the name of Keith Scott that was waiting in his minivan for his child to get off the school bus. And the authorities were on the hunt looking for somebody that didn’t look anything like him, he did not fit the description nor was his vehicle in question… [Scott’s wife] says, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t don’t do it… and I thought to myself, ‘She knows that her husband is going to die…’man that’s a chorus, the only thing that video was missing was melody and music.’ And so I got inspired by that. And so you guys are going to hear ‘Don’t Do It’ featuring Kendrick Lamar.”
This is proof that No_One Ever Really Dies is not just N.E.R.D’s new album, it is their chance to use their platform to stand for what is right, meaningful and benefits the world at large.