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N.E.R.D. Create Alternative Reality on ‘Nothing’ Album

Barbara Zanon, Getty Images

N.E.R.D.‘s ‘Nothing’ album is finally scheduled to arrive this September, after undergoing some serious reconstructive work and a sharp change in direction. According to Pharrell Williams, the decision to scrap 27 potential songs for the album earlier this year has inspired a completely new body of work.

“We got rid of those tracks and started with nothing, so I was like, that’s what we need to do — we need to call [the album] ‘Nothing,” Pharrell tells The BoomBox. “At the end of the day, how did the world come about? They said it started with the Big Bang, but what was before the Big Bang? What comes before all great ideas? Before you’re inspired … Nothing!”

Although Pharrell has repeatedly described the album’s current line-up of songs as “lifestyle” music, the N.E.R.D. frontman doesn’t actually hold the new content in such light regard. Observations on current events, technology, and the dizzying pace of daily life, were all driving forces in the effort to create an album dedicated to “escapism,” or an alternative reality.

“We’ve had so many things going on, from the technological advancements of the iPod, and the iPad, which are genius,” Pharrell explains, beginning on a positive note. “But at the same time we also have technological failures like the oil spill and it feels a lot like the late 60s and early 70s. While I was too young to understand what we were going through, I’ve looked back at a lot of footage and newsreels from that era. And now we have issues like our dependency on fossil fuels, which has not proven to be a good thing.”

“There are issues and people want to talk about them, but we don’t want to bring people down,” he continued, emphasizing that ‘Nothing’ is intended to uplift the listener. “We want to bring people up, make people happy, we’re tired of people thinking so much, That’s why in the middle of the ‘Hot n Fun‘ song, you hear me say, ‘People don’t wanna think anymore, they just wanna feel, they wanna let go,’ for just for a second man. We need some kind of escapism and that’s what the ‘Nothing’ album is about.”

Some of that escapism will appeal uniquely to the female psyche “in the same way that a Sandra Bullock film would,” Pharrell says, but by no means is it intended to be enjoyed only by the fairer sex. “This album is for black, white, gay, straight, tall, skinny, fat, whatever. As long as you have blood in your body, it’s for you. It’s just for you to listen and escape. While a lot of women hear it and they feel sexy, it’s not a sexual album. I’m not saying anything about a girl’s body necessarily. The focus is to liberate women and make them feel free and be happy about music and what music does to them.”

‘Nothing’ is currently set for a September 7 release.

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