Words by Richard “Treats” Dryden—
The Neptunes—Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo—could be set to take a second victory lap. In addition to making hits like Robin Thicke and T.I.’s current smash “Blurred Lines” and contributing to Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, the greatest production duo of the past decade has recently reconnected with some of the same artists (N.O.R.E., Pusha T of the Clipse) they launched their career with more than a decade ago.
Jamaica— and the Caribbean as a whole—have influenced the eclectic Neptunes sound throughout their career. Bongos and steel drums have been a reoccurring presence in tracks like Clipse’s “I’m Not You” and “Wamp Wamp” (with Slim Thug), to Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U,” which sound more tropical than intergalactic like their namesake. And when it came to pairing their mastery of Jamaican music with artists native to the dancehall scene, Pharrell and Chad had the means to breathe new life into talent like Super Cat and Beenie Man. Now, the Neptunes’ formula of songwriting and supplying hip-hop beats to dancehall icons has worked in reverse with Busta Rhymes, a New Yorker with Jamaican roots, tapping them (or at least Pharrell, as Chad seems to have taken a more background role in recent years) for some Jamaica-inspired heat.
Given how the Neptunes have revisited their own roots lately with Busta’s yardie-flavored “Twerk It,” LargeUp compiled the top Caribbean moments in the history of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo.