N*E*R*D or N.E.R.D is the name of a rock band consisting of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes and their friend Shae Haley. The band's sound is hard to classify, but is described by some as a mixture of hip hop and soulful rock. The name is an acronym of No-one Ever Really Dies, as Pharrell Williams explains in the biography section of the website:
"What does N*E*R*D stand for? N*E*R*D stands for No-one Ever Really Dies. The Neptunes are who we are and N*E*R*D is what we do. It's our life. N*E*R*D is just a basic belief, man. People's energies are made of their souls. When you die, that energy may disperse but it isn't destroyed. Energy cannot be destroyed."
Williams and Hugo originally recorded an album for European release in 2001 using the same digital production techniques used on Neptunes productions. However, they decided that if N.E.R.D was to be different from the Neptunes it should sound different. This led to them recording the album In Search Of... with the funk-rock band Spymob for worldwide release in 2002.
In Search Of... achieved moderate success in the US: the album reached number 59 on the Billboard 200; its first single, "Lapdance", reached the top 40 on the modern rap charts; and its second single, "Rock Star", reached the top 40 of the modern rock charts in the US. "Lapdance" also went top 40 in the Netherlands and its music video received heavy airplay on American MTV2. The album was well-received by critics even though it was not as successful as the Neptunes' previous productions for Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Usher, Babyface, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and No Doubt.
The album won the second annual Shortlist Music Prize, awarded (by a group of musicians, journalists, and other music professionals) to the best album of the year which had sold less than 500,000 copies at the time of nomination. The band performed at the show, bragging that the week prior to the ceremony, the album had, in fact, achieved gold status by selling over 500,000 units.
The band recorded its second album Fly or Die during 2003. The band actually learned to play the tunes live, as Chad Hugo told MTV News on December 9, 2003: "We're the ones playing the instruments live this time. "I just started playing guitar last year so I'm learning as we go. Pharrell's playing drums. [Last time] we didn't have time to learn certain instruments so we got Spymob to help us out."
The band also recruited some assistance to record the album with Lenny Kravitz playing on the track "Maybe" (which has been featured in ads for XM Satellite Radio) and Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte playing on the track "Jump". Several of the tracks discuss issues of particular concern to adolescents, for example "Thrasher", which is about bullies; "Drill Sergeant", about rebellion; and "Backseat Love", which talks about first love.
Fly or Die went on sale on March 22, 2004. The album has so far gone top 10 in the USA, while the lead-off single, "She Wants to Move", has gone top 5 in the UK, top 20 in Norway, Ireland, and Denmark, and top 40 in Australia and the Netherlands. The music videos for "She Wants To Move" and its followup single, "Maybe", have received strong support from the digital cable network VH1 Soul in America. "She Wants To Move" even achieved substantial airplay on regular MTV in America for a few weeks, a rarity for any new music video these days.