Meeting The Neptunes
In 2009, Taiwo decided to quit his job and, along with his brother, who had been laid off a few months earlier, give music their undivided attention. "I remember this very clearly. I just decided and said, 'I'm gonna do this full-time.' That was that.' And as fate would have it, their underground buzz soon reached the ears of quite possibly the hottest producers in the game: The Neptunes.
The collaborative years that followed their tenure at Paperchase led them into the circles of forward-thinking electronic musicians and DJs. They even ended up on a compilation mix from Boston house legend Armand Van Helden (now one half of Duck Sauce with Fool's Gold boss A-Trak). The direction of their sound -- as well as their definitive decision to pursue music -- is evident in the 2009 visual to their synth-poppy jam "Famous Girl," which depicts a macabre dinner party during which the guests, each wearing different animal masks, indulge in a ritual sacrifice of a Hollywood starlet. The ambitious video caught the eyes and ears of N.E.R.D.'s third member, Shae Haley.
Shae never introduced them to his bandmates. Instead, he played Christian Rich music in the car to see if they would catch on organically, and indeed, Pharrell asked to meet Taiwo and Kehinde in New York. During their first hangout, the duo accompanied Pharrell to a performance at Governor's Island and then straight to the studio of Diddy, who, at the time, was preparing to introduce his immensely talented Dirty Money collective.
Christian Rich worked on Last Train to Paris for a couple of months, only to eventually see their hopeful single left off the album altogether. The same instrumental was also purchased by Lupe Fiasco but, again, went unused on Lasers. In any case, they were earning sustainable income and had a huge industry playmaker on their side with Pharrell, who provided the effusive intro to their 2010 mixtape The Decadence, for which he also hooked the twins up with fellow Virginian Pusha T, whom Christian Rich had already unwittingly produced for seven years prior.