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10 songs you may not know were produced by The Neptunes

Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams artwork.
Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, also known as The Neptunes. (Shutterstock/Featureflash Photo Agency)

The Neptunes are music production royalty.

Consisting of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, the duo have been producing hits for almost three decades.

Most famously, they've produced tracks for Snoop Dogg ("Drop It Like It's Hot," "Beautiful"), Jay-Z ("Change Clothes," "Excuse Me Miss"), and Justin Timberlake ("Rock Your Body," "Señorita").

They've also worked with Nelly ("Hot In Herre"), Kelis ("Milkshake"), and Gwen Stefani ("Hollaback Girl").

But did you know that The Neptunes have produced multiple songs for Madonna? Or that they gave the world one of the most memorable film soundtracks of the noughties?

Here are 10 songs you may not know Williams and Hugo lent their expert hands to.

"Lookin' at Me" by Mase feat. Puff Daddy

1998 proved to be The Neptunes' big break as producers and it came courtesy of Mase and Puff Daddy.

"Lookin' at Me" peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Williams and Hugo their first ever top 10 hit and gold plaque.

As is the case with much of The Neptunes' early work, "Lookin' at Me" still sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

"I'm a Slave 4 U" by Britney Spears

By the turn of the century, The Neptunes had made a name for themselves as one of rap music's biggest production duos, having produced songs for the likes of Jay-Z, Noreaga, and the aforementioned Mase and Puff Daddy.

So in 2001, Williams and Hugo decided to stretch their creative muscles by dipping into the world of pop music.

As well as working with the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and All Saints, they also teamed up with Britney Spears for the platinum-selling "I'm a Slave 4 U."

A coming-of-age anthem, the song marked Spears' transition from squeaky clean child star to pop culture powerhouse.

"What Happened to That Boy" by Baby feat. Clipse

Baby and Clipse's "What Happened to That Boy" started one of the most high-profile rap feuds of the century.

After The Neptunes were allegedly not paid for producing the song, Clipse's Pusha T took matters into his own hands by proceeding to fire lyrical shots at Baby and the rest of Cash Money Records, including Lil Wayne, at every given opportunity.

Once Drake then rose to prominence nearly a decade later, the Canadian thought it wise to fire back at Pusha in defence of his mentor Wayne on the song "Dreams Money Can Buy."

Drake's diss spawned the infamous feud between him and Pusha, which in 2018 saw Pusha reveal to the world that Drake had been fathering a secret child with former adult film star Sophie Brussaux.

"Give It 2 Me" by Madonna

In 2007, The Neptunes teamed up with Madonna to produce several tracks for her 11th studio album "Hard Candy," including the second single "Give It 2 Me."

The song became Madonna's 39th No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and also topped the charts in Hungary, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Speaking after the release of Hard Candy in 2008, Williams said that Madonna "worked him to death."

"I’m glad I was pushed, because it’s some of my best work," he said.

"Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious)" by Teriyaki Boys

Whether or not you've seen 2006's "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" – you no doubt know the theme song.

Those opening bell chimes are simply unmistakable.

Produced by, you guessed it, The Neptunes, the track was the first-ever J-hip-hop song to chart on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 singles chart.

In recent years, the song has been sampled by Lil Yachty and Ski Mask the Slump God.

"Gotta Have It" by Jay-Z & Kanye West

Just like The Neptunes, Kanye West is also one of hip-hop music's greatest-ever producers.

So in 2011 when Williams, Hugo, and Kanye came together to produce "Gotta Have It" – the result was bound to be special.

Featured on Kanye and Jay-Z's groundbreaking joint album "Watch the Throne," the song samples no less than three James Brown songs, which are chopped and arranged over a catchy Eastern flute melody and a delicious drum loop.

"Hit Different" by SZA feat. Ty Dolla $ign

While The Neptunes may have slowed down a little in recent years, they are still more than capable of making hits for the modern audience.

SZA's first release as a solo artist since her 2017 album "Ctrl," the song sold over 2 million copies and helped propel the Top Dawg singer to superstardom.

Speaking about working with Williams, SZA said in 2020: "He ended up extending the session for an extra three days and at the end I was just like, ‘You don’t know how much you mean to me in the realm of black, suburban, weird kids. You validated me in the world for thinking differently and dressing differently, and feeling differently, and that’s priceless.’"

"I’m damn about to cry right now just thinking about it," she added.

"Come Close" by Common feat. Mary J. Blige

Common's 2002 album "Electric Circus" was met with mixed reviews from critics, with some describing the project as too experimental and not as cohesive as his previous album "Like Water for Chocolate."

"Electric Circus" also sold a lot less copies than "Like Water for Chocolate."

Nevertheless, the album's lead single, The Neptunes-produced "Come Close" with Mary J. Blige, was still a hit, both with the public (it was the only track from the album to reach the Billboard Hot 100) and with critics.

Mark Anthony Neal of Pop Matters called the track a "fly love song."

"'Come Close' is one of two tracks produced by The Neptunes (what?), who clearly brought their A-game for Common," he wrote.

"Feel It Boy" by Beenie Man feat. Janet Jackson

It's difficult not to know that The Neptunes produced Beenie Man's 2000 smash hit with Mya "Girls Dem Sugar" given that the dancehall superstar shouts them out at the start of the track ("Zagga zow, ziggy zow, zagga zow / Neptune make number one tune").

Beenie didn't give Williams and Hugo the same courtesy on 2002's "Feel It Boy" with Janet Jackson, but if you listen closely, you can, just about, hear Williams in the background at the start of the track.

If that doesn't give away that the song was produced by The Neptunes, then Williams' signature four-count intro should.

"Wasting Time" by Brent Faiyaz feat. Drake

Aside from the sound, there's one big giveaway that Brent Faiyaz's 2021 hit "Wasting Time" featuring Drake was produced by The Neptunes – the track's cover art.

The artwork sees cartoon versions Faiyaz and Drake standing next together, both drawn in the same style as Williams was on the cover of his 2006 debut studio album "In My Mind."

One of Faiyaz's first-ever chart hits, "Wasting Time" peaked at No. 49 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).


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