Pharrell In My Mind

Do yourself a favour: save your money and just download every dope song featuring Pharrell. What could have been classic is common, and it’s your boy’s fault. First off, Chad Hugo (his Neptunes partner-in-production) doesn’t appear on this disc. Stripped of the essential element that defined his sound, and completely on his own, the beats limp somewhat awkwardly. "Best Friend” sounds like a Neptunes castaway and should be treated as such, while the deep bass and irregular rhythms of "Raspy Shit” or the rolling wave sections of "Can I Have It Like That” showcase the best he has to offer. Forcing Pharrell to the forefront puts the focus squarely on him. As charming as he is, he doesn’t excel at emceeing or crooning R&B — supposedly this disc is half of each — but it works in small doses. Mediocrity weighs down the guest appearances (Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Slim Thug). Jay-Z is unimpressive on "Young Girl,” a throwaway throwback song with distinct ties to the Michael Jackson era (e.g. echo on the vocals). Worst track on the album: "Number One” featuring Kanye West. Neither MC (wait, Pharrell sings; Kanye raps) shines and it’s the worst I’ve heard from either. (Interscope)