The Neptunes : 15 Underrated Productions You Need to Rediscover

yanisphen
5 min readMay 8, 2023

Everyone knows the big hits produced by The Neptunes that have marked the history of music since the 2000s. However, there are many other bangers produced by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo that have flown under the radar. Here’s a selection of 15 tracks that deserve to be rediscovered.

The production duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, better known as The Neptunes, have left an undeniable mark on the music industry with their hit songs and unique production style. While many are familiar with their well-known hits from the early 2000s, there are a multitude of other tracks that showcase their immense talent as producers that are not as widely recognized.

Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of 15 underrated tracks produced by The Neptunes that deserve to be rediscovered. From soulful R&B tracks to high-energy hip-hop bangers, this list highlights the range and diversity of The Neptunes’ production prowess.

1. T.I. — What’s Yo Name

“What’s Yo Name” is an overlooked gem that still holds up to this day. Released in 2001, the song’s smooth yet gangsta vibe is a testament to the production prowess of Pharrell and Chad Hugo. From the thumping bassline to the catchy hook, “What’s Yo Name” showcases T.I.’s lyrical skills. The infectious chorus, with Pharrell’s smooth and melodic vocals, adds a layer of catchiness to the track, complementing T.I.’s verses perfectly.

2. Latrelle — House Party

Latrelle’s “House Party” is an infectious R&B track that is sure to get you grooving. Released in 2001, the song features Latrelle’s smooth vocals over a funky beat, complete with horn stabs and a catchy chorus that will stick in your head. Latrelle’s soulful voice and undeniable talent shine through on this track, making it a must-listen for any fan of RnB.

Brilliantly remixed by Kaytranada in the mid-2010s.

3. Cee-Lo — Let’s Stay Together (ft. Pharrell Williams)

“Let’s Stay Together” is a soulful and romantic R&B track that showcases Cee-Lo Green’s smooth and soulful vocals. The song was released in 2004 on Cee-Lo’s second studio album, “Cee-Lo Green… Is the Soul Machine.” The album was a critical success, earning praise for its eclectic mix of musical styles and themes. The song features Pharrell Williams on the hook, adding a layer of harmonic complexity to the track.

4. Vanessa Marquez — Want You To Know (ft. Justin Timberlake)

“Want You To Know” is a soulful R&B track by Vanessa Marquez featuring Justin Timberlake. Released in 2003, the song showcases Marquez’s silky vocals and Timberlake’s smooth falsetto over a laid-back beat.

The production on the track is minimalistic, allowing the vocals to take center stage. The guitar riff and percussion provide a mellow backdrop for Marquez and Timberlake’s emotive delivery.

5. Kelis — Mafia (ft. Markita)

“Mafia” is a standout track from Kelis’ third studio album “Tasty”. The song’s production is a masterclass in minimalist R&B beats. The beat consists of a simple drum loop, a sort of country music riff, and some synths, but the arrangement allows Kelis vocals to shine.

6. N.E.R.D — Laser Gun

The song was released as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of their fourth studio album, “Nothing”. The song features a blend of rock and electronic elements, with a strong emphasis on a driving beat and distorted guitar riffs. And the chorus is… woah.

7. 702 — I Still Love You

This is an example of The Neptunes’ ability to create timeless R&B ballads that resonate with listeners. The track’s stripped-down production, coupled with the rich harmonies of 702 and Pharrell’s backing vocals, creates a poignant and heartfelt musical experience.

The chorus of the song, with Pharrell’s layered background vocals repeating the title phrase, adds to the emotional impact of the lyrics and make it memorable.

8. Ray-J — Formal Invite (ft. Pharrell Williams)

Released in 2005, the track features an upbeat and funky instrumental with Ray J’s smooth vocals gliding over the top. The production is classic Neptunes, with a pulsing beat and playful synth melodies that create a perfect backdrop for Ray J’s romantic lyrics. The song has a danceable groove and the infectious chorus will stay stuck in your head long after the song is over. Probably one of the first times we hear Pharrell rapping.

9. Lil’ Kim & Lil’ Cease & Snoop Dogg & Pharrell & Kelis — How Many Licks (The Neptunes Remix)

The original version of “How Many Licks” by Lil’ Kim was already a hit, but the remix featuring Snoop Dogg, Pharrell, and Kelis takes the track to another level. Produced by the duo, the remix adds a new layer of craziness to the already infectious beat with Pharrell’s dope chorus.

10. Pharrell — Frontin (Remix) (Ft. Jay-Z, Vybz Kartel & Wayne Marshall)

The “Frontin” remix featuring Jay-Z, Vybz Kartel, and Wayne Marshall takes the original Pharrell hit and infuses it with a dancehall vibe. Produced by The Neptunes, the remix adds new verses from Jay-Z and dancehall heavyweights Vybz Kartel and Wayne Marshall, while still featuring Pharrell’s catchy chorus.

The dancehall flavor adds a fresh twist to the already infectious beat, making it a must-listen for fans of both hip-hop and dancehall music.

11. Kelis — Freak Me Slow

An unreleased track that blends R&B and electronic beats with an Oriental influence. The Arabic infused bridge is fire. The lyrics are straightforward and explicit, which has made it a popular choice for inclusion in bedroom playlists.

12. Clipse — Gangsta Lean

“Gangsta Lean” is a standout track from Clipse’s debut studio album, “Lord Willin’” released in 2002 and produced by The Neptunes. “Gangsta Lean” showcases the duo’s gritty and raw rhymes, with a heavy bassline and dark piano keys, providing a perfect backdrop to their street tale.

13. Janet Jackson — Son Of A Gun ft. Missy Elliott (The Neptunes Ruff Mix)

Janet Jackson’s “Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)” featuring Missy Elliott received a sweet remix treatment from The Neptunes, titled the “Ruff Mix.” Released in 2001, the remix features a futuristic and upbeat instrumental with a repetitive bassline.

14. Tha Liks, Tha Alkaholiks — Best U Can

“Best U Can” is a single by Tha Liks, or Tha Alkaholiks, the California-based rap group. Produced by The Neptunes in the early 2000s, the song boasts a catchy chorus by Pharrell Williams that adds to its appeal. The beat is characterized by a pre-rock drum shuffle, creating an intense and energetic vibe. Despite being a pure Neptunes production, “Best U Can” was only a moderate hit for the group.

15. Beenie Man feat Sean Paul & Lady Saw — Bossman

This track is relatively more popular, particularly in the Caribbean, and showcases the lively and infectious style of Jamaican dancehall music. With the addition of the Neptunes’ production, the track boasts an amalgamation of electronic elements, a captivating guitar, and a massive bassline. “Bossman” was a commercial success, reaching the top 10 on the Jamaican music charts and garnering widespread airplay across the Caribbean.

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