One of the really glorious bits of early-decade fusion pop: a Neptunes beat, a dancehall star, a supersweet pop-R&B chorus from Mya, everything bubbling and blending in the summer heat.
But that beat! The Neptunes could be frustrating, especially when the whole NERD thing got going, but their best stuff just seemed miles beyond anyone else. As in, even as someone who’s never tried to put a beat together, the Neptunes stuff was baffling, so ramshackle and thin it ought not to work and yet…
For the pop fan, Timbaland’s thing at the time was mad noises: you didn’t know what or where he’d borrow from next. But the Neptunes’ productions seemed built on a much smaller range of sounds – that plastic gated snapping sound they used a lot (all over this), thin keyboard tones, the occasional chime. On Kelis’ first album they sounded like toybox raiders – here, and on the Mystikal productions they were doing around this time, they’ve got two different ways of coming at the James Brown funk aesthetic of doing more with less, the rough digital beats of dancehall giving them a gateway into minimalism. I dunno though, even at the time they were producing so much it was nearly impossible to get a bead on their development, so take my narrative with a heavy dose of suspicion. Meanwhile this is sunshine.