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Pharrell Williams forged a long-term friendship and musical partnership with Chad Hugo while in seventh grade. Among the Virginia Beach natives’ aspirant peers in high school was Timbaland, with whom they recorded as S.B.I. (Surrounded by Idiots). While producing his brother Markell’s group, Teddy Riley enlisted Williams to co-write “Rump Shaker,” which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of 1992.
The Neptunes left their first mark in 1998. Mase’s ‘Lookin’ at Me’, featuring Puff Daddy and became Williams and Hugo’s first Top Ten pop hit that September. The duo soon became among the most sought-after, prolific, and successful producers in commercial R&B, rap, and pop. Among The Neptunes’ most creative and popular productions were Britney Spears’ ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’, Nelly’s ‘Hot in Here’ and Justin Timberlake’s ‘Rock Your Body’. The last of that bunch led to a Grammy award in the category of Producer of the Year.
Neptunes’ highlights across 2004 and 2005 included Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ and Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’, both of which topped the Hot 100. Successful collaborations with the likes of Mariah Carey’s ‘Say Somethin’ and Beyoncé’s ‘Green Light’ continued through the latter half of the 2000s. There was a handful of Grammy nominations, as well as a win for Ludacris’ ‘Money Maker’, which took Best Rap Song award for 2006.
The roll continued through 2014. ‘Blurred Lines’, a number one pop hit for Robin Thicke, involved Williams as producer, co-songwriter, and featured artist. Williams co-wrote and fronted ‘Get Lucky’ from Daft Punk’s chart-topping Random Access Memories. The soundtrack for Despicable Me 2 contained several Williams songs, led by the smash hit ‘Happy’. At the Grammy’s it won Record of the Year and Random Access Memories won Album of the Year. Williams also took the award for Producer of the Year.
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