Benny

A POLITE OPUS: N*E*R*D - IN SEARCH OF...

Benny
A POLITE OPUS: N*E*R*D - IN SEARCH OF...

You know those diagrams with the circles overlapping each other? I think they're called Venn Diagrams or some shit like that. If I were to describe how my personality is today and how it was growing up I would need that diagram. I like crazy shit. Calm shit. I would have to be in the middle where the three circles intersect. I'm trying to explain this as simple as I can. Sorry if I'm failing to do so. I'm a nerd who is rough around the edges. I love anime and I love Menace II Society. I can hang with nerds and hang with street niggas. I was a athlete and I played in Band. Alto Saxophone to be exact. I could skateboard which was rare in the black community. I loved to play Pokemon and loved to play bones. I loved Fabolous's music and loved "He's going the distance" by Cake. I fucked artsy women, nerdy women, and hood women. I guess that would make me an all around dude. I would always be confused on what crowd I fell in because I had a taste for everything. Back then that shit mattered because I was young but today that shit is meaningless. I never really fell into a crowd. I felt I had to hide things I were interested in because I felt they were weird to other people. I had to hide part of myself. Hide what made me unique just to fit in. A lot of things I liked weren't really accepted by my culture. I was just a black kid that was always curious and if you're were cool with me I was cool with you. I didn't care how you were raised or what your hobbies were. I was a freelancer. America has this silly habit of trying to categorize everything. We put everything in a box. Nothing can just be what the fuck it is. At the end of the day if society can't define you or understand you, congratulations you're now a weirdo. 

One night I was attempting to stay up until 2am to watch B.E.T Uncut. Back then it was the closest thing to porn that we had. Internet existed but it wasn't as big yet.You had the magazines back then (Shoutout Playboy). You had the older men in your family who had a stash of porn on VHS they thought no one could find, that shit was either super old from like the 80's or super boring. You had to be a secret agent trying to watch that stuff so it was hard work. BET Uncut was the easiest bet along with those late night Cinemax movies but they only showed white women titties on Cinemax. I wanted to see melanin titties. Today there's porn everywhere. You literally can see it without trying to. Back then I was just staying up until 2am to catch the "Oochie Wally" video by Nas just to see Gloria Velez in the jacuzzi and her immaculate side titty. 

The fucked up part about watching B.E.T uncut you have to sit through a bunch of shitty videos to catch whatever you want to see. I'm just chilling, barely fucking awake watching these videos and this video I never seen comes on. It's the trashiest video I've seen with a bunch of random shit happening but I liked the song. It was very crazy. I see Vita (From Murder INC) sexy ass in a white beater singing the hook. Why they chose Vita, who knows and who cares that woman fine as fuck to me so that's irrelevant. It was just a catchy song with trashy white women making out all over a bed on top of a grown man in a trucker hat with a mustache of a 14 year old on the way to high school. The first thing I said is "OH! That's the funny looking nigga from the Mystikal Shake Ya Ass video." I seen their name NERD on the video credits and laughed because it was a cool name. Simple but cool. 

Some time passed by. I never heard anything from N.E.R.D or had the urge to really search for any material during that time. I was just really into rap and back then streaming music wasn't even thought of so I had to go to Sam Goody in the mall and scan the cd under the scanner and listen to snippets of albums. I heard the song "Rock Star" and seen the video and I was really into the images. I had to get my hands on their material. Real or Bootleg it didn't matter I needed the music immediately. It was like when Doug Funnie first heard "Killer Tofu" by "The Beets." I was broke as fuck. My parents wouldn't give me money for doing nothing and I damn sure didn't want to work for it so thank god for Napster at the time. I had a homie burn me the album and I was a fan ever since I heard the album. "In Search Of" truly changed my life and how I viewed people and how I viewed the world. 

"In Search Of" was named after the TV series hosted by Spock from Star Trek in the 70's also called "In Search Of" basically a show about paranormal shit, aliens, and myths like the Loch Ness monster. The album really was like the show sonically. It was damn near mythical. It was just so different than what I was listening to at that point in my life. My musical taste was really black and white and N.E.R.D "In Search Of" basically splashed color everywhere on my musical canvas. It had no structure. No rules. The lyricism on the album didn't even make sense to me sometimes, I just heard guys happy to be making music. It's just a roller coaster of emotions. The material was very juvenile, childish, but FUN! There were some songs with some deep messages. You had Pharrell's unique voice and delivery. It was nothing like any voice I've ever heard. N.E.R.D perfected what Fred Durst and Kid Rock tried to do and completed what Run DMC and Aerosmith started. Those guys are great artists and musical legends but N.E.R.D took it to a different planet with "In Search Of." Just when you thought you heard it all they shocked the world. 

The music was unclassifiable because it used so many genres. Pop, Rock, Rap, Funk, Electronic, hints of Jazz and Country. It could really appeal to everyone. I could seriously hear Jamiroquai, Prince, or Steely Dan laying down music to the production on this album that's how ILL the production is on this mothafucka. It's one of the few albums that I've ever heard that every song is worth listening to especially if you're a audio nerd. It's a audio nerds dream. A lot of albums in history usually have 5 great songs and the rest of the project is really hit or miss. You can take what you think is the worse song from "In Search Of" and you can find something amazing about that song which makes it hard to skip. I was at the age where I could break down lyrics so artists really couldn't really get bullshit pass me anymore like they did when I was like 6 years old. This album is the first album in my life where I cared more about the vibe than the lyrics. I really didn't give a fuck if it made sense or not I just knew the music made me feel good. 

I felt like I was in space whenever I listened to this project. Remember the Tribe Called Quest documentary that Michael Rapport made? They interviewed Pharrell for the film because he's a known Tribe Called Quest Addict and when he was explaining the first time he heard "Bonita Applebum" It was the exact same feeling I had when I heard "In Search Of."  If I could pick a song that was my "Bonita Applebum" from "In Search Of" I'd have to pick "Tape You." Relax girrrrrl. Sip some of my slurpeeeeee. I was like "Holy Shit, I want to say that to girls. I LOVE SLURPEES!" The way he said that line was so fucking immature but so dope because honestly who would say that shit to a woman? It would throw them off but intrigue them because it's so left field and who the fuck is going to down a slurpee? A slurpee with all the flavors mixed in it? Yeah you sipping my slurpee girl. I'd like to sip slurpees, find out my girlfriend is bi-sexual, have a threesome and tape it also. It's what the song is about. Fantasies. 

This album really got some iffy reviews in the content department but there were some gems on this album. Fuck reviews anyway. you either like it or you don't and you keep it pushing. I don't like rating things especially if I have to give it a grade or put a number on it. Alright got that out of my system let's continue. A song like "Run To The Sun." for example. Pharrell sounds like he's talking to a love interest when really he's talking to his Grandma who was diagnosed with Leukemia and he wants to run to the sun with her instead of dealing with the evils of society. A song like "Bobby James" that was about drug addiction, bullying, and suicide. The song "Lapdance" was about filthy politicians and them taking advantage of people. The song "Provider" (Probably the most perfect song on the album) tells the story of a man down on his luck, poor, struggling to support his family and turns to drug dealing so him and his family can survive. I love the visual of this song. It's so gritty and grungy. Speaking of visuals it's fucking criminal "Baby Doll" didn't have a video made. I close my eyes and all I picture is the 1960's or 70's and people fucking around on the beach getting drunk and high. It sounds like it belongs on a alcohol commercial. You have the Anti-poser anthem "Rock Star." You have "Am I High" which could have so many metaphorical meanings and you can hear a little bit of Lenny Kravitz influence on that song.

There are 2 versions of this album. You have the live band version which is the album I've been talking about up to this point and was released in 2002. The other version is the electronic version. They made it with no live band and it was released only in Europe in 2001. The way I stumbled upon the electronic version years later is kind of cool. I left my physical copy at my parents house when I went away to college. I didn't have a ipod so I had a bunch of cd's. My roommate had a computer and I found the album and downloaded it. When I was listening to it I kept asking myself "Where the fuck are the drums?" I thought my headphones were broken so I played it in the car and it was the same and then when I heard the "Intro", skits, and the totally different version of "Tape You" full of women moaning for 2 minutes and Pharrell directing the threesome by coaching the titty sucking, I knew he was my musical inspiration for a reason and knew I had a different version of the album. I researched it and learned everything and felt pretty stupid. At that moment I was no longer a rookie. I was a real N.E.R.D fan. I always go back and forth on which version I like better. It really depends on my mood. I really like the Electronic version because it has heavier synths and it's more raw. It feels like a demo, more intimate, and makes you appreciate the album even more. The instrumental after "Bobby James"(I like it better on this version) and the track "What's Wrong With Me" doesn't hurt either. The Live band version is dope because well live music is very fucking awesome. I always rotate them when I listen to this album. 

This album never really sold millions of records and honestly I'm glad it didn't. One. The Neptunes accomplishments outside of N.E.R.D are self explanatory. One of the greatest producing teams in music history. Two. The album not selling millions of records gives it this feeling like it's a cult movie. Cult movies like The Big Lebowski, Donnie Darko, Showgirls, Mallrats, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas all did TERRIBLE in the box office but were seen as classics by teens and developed cult followings. "In Search Of" gives off that same vibe. I believe it went gold but I'm sure it didn't sell a million records in the U.S. It's a cult album with a cult following. 

When N.E.R.D arrived with "In Search Of" it was like a message to kids like me. The visuals they made. The album. They showed us that it's time. No more hiding what makes you unique. No more hiding at all. Show yourself. Hop on that skateboard. Listen to all genres of music. Play in band. Yes you're weird but so are we and guess what? The earth still spinning and we can be weird together. Let's smoke weed! Let's love women! Sip Slurpees. Lace up your converse. Embrace the weird.

- BENNY