Pharrell Williams isn’t your everyday rapper/singer/producer type. He offers a quirky side that isn’t seen much in music today. While being 1/2 of the dynamic Neptunes duo (with the hardly seen Chad Hugo), Pharrell has been part of some of hip-hop’s biggest hits and most daring endeavors. Apparently, somewhere in the midst of all this Pharrell became an artist. He flaunted his falsetto (or false-etto) on hooks, offered his voice to N.E.R.D. albums and even spit a hot 16 here and there. Obviously he became comfortable with this aspect of his artistry, and so did his fans. It only seemed right that Skateboard P drop a solo album to develop his own artistic expression….right?
It had been over a year since the solo endeavor was announced and nobody had seen an album yet. Rumors ran rampant that Pharrell’s album may not be up to snuff, while the slight buzz he began with “Can I Have It Like That” dissipated just as swiftly as it developed. But just when the album appeared to be headed for the shelf, a release date popped up. But many are left to wonder whether or not Pharrell can hold up an album on his own. The bigger question is whether Pharrell is a real artist or, like the title of the album suggests, it’s all in his mind.
Had this been a decade or so earlier, In My Mind would never have been allowed to see the light of day. Reason being is that nobody really thinks of Pharrell is a solo artist except…well….Pharrell. Sure, he’s great for a hook or two here and there, but a whole album? Hell nah! So what exactly is In My Mind? An inside look at Pharrell’s creative process that maybe should have stayed inside.
From a production standpoint, Pharrell is either one extreme or the other. When he hits, it bangs. “How Does It Feel” rolls along with snapping drums and is probably one of the better produced tracks on the album. It’s no secret that Pharrell is an 80′s kid, as he takes a big chunk out of the Michael Jackson/Stevie Wonder production books with “Young Girl”, featuring a show stealing Jay-Z. But when the going gets bad, it gets really bad. Lame beats like “Angel” and “Show You How To Hustle” pale in comparison to the brilliant works of art that Pharrell has contributed in the past. Some tracks are boring, while others are just too mushy. “Take It Off (Dim The Lights)” would have been great if someone else laid the vocals, but Pharrell is just corny here (lines like “I’m a master of the bra girl” wreak of N.E.R.D.). Let’s not mention that he can’t sing. Sure, Rick James couldn’t sing but there was a certain charisma there that Pharrell lacks. He takes himself seriously, and therefore we shouldn’t.
“Can I Have It Like That”, although released a year ago, still finds its way on the album. We could have really done without this, but oh well. “Raspy Shit” drags along lazily with an even lazier hook ripped straight from his own verse on Snoop’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (“Don’t try to come up in my ear talking all that raspy shit/tryin to ask me shit”). “Best Friend” is beautiful in concept (an ode to his buddy Chad Hugo) and even the beat is dope, but Pharrell just can’t seem to articulate his thoughts on record to make it attractive to the listener. This problem happens throughout the album. Point blank- Pharrell is sub-par as an emcee. The album isn’t about gunplay, bitches and rims, but on the same token, Pharrell just can’t grasp what being an emcee is all about. “You Can Do It Too” has a solid concept of making it in this world, but Skateboard P’s lazy lyricism just doesn’t cut it. Constantly being outshined by your guests is a no-no for anyone’s album (sure Jay-Z is excusable, but *Nelly* on “Baby?” Blasphemy!) . Even “Number One” should have been a chart topping blockbuster, but it ends up being a resounding dud with two artists heavy in hype, but tossing up a so-so song that fails to meet anyone’s worst expectations.
The funny thing about In My Mind is that it’s like a bad dream of your best friend fucking your mother- we’ll all wake up from this horrific nightmare and not only forgive – but forget – that this whole In My Mind thing ever happened. Usually a really crappy album can dead your career. But Skateboard P is so damn talented musically that nobody will care (except Pharrell) and we’ll wait in extreme anticipation for him to contribute to something else…..just not his own album. ï»¿
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