"The Neptunes Present… Clones" Turns 20

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The Neptunes

"The Neptunes Present… Clones" represents a time where the talented duo dominated various facets of mainstream music.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Neptunes’ first and only compilation album, The Neptunes Present… Clones. The album was released on August 19, 2003, via Star Trak Entertainment and Arista Records. Clones was the first time Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo came together for a full-length compilation since they formed The Neptunes in 1996. Produced entirely by Williams and Hugo, the project includes features from big names and close collaborators alike. Guests on the tracklist range from established legends to newcomers who would go on to become household names. The compilation album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, landed chart positions in international markets, and is currently certified Gold. Today, we are looking back at The Neptunes Present… Clones for its 20th anniversary.

An Era-Defining Compilation

Clones encapsulates an era when The Neptunes dominated the most popular styles of hip hop and R&B. Their signature sound utilized soulful yet bizarre instrumentation, bouncy percussion, and a four-count. The Neptunes’ unique style defined the current sound of pop music at the time and conquered the charts. In 2003, the same year Clones was released, they produced 43 percent of the songs played on U.S. radio stations and 20 percent on British stations. This impressive statistic makes sense, considering the number of stars that appeared on Clones

Legendary rappers like Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, JAY-Z, Nelly, and Snoop Dogg contributed catchy verses, adding to The Neptunes’ track record as they had already produced hit singles for each. Ol’ Dirty Bastard appears on the album following his Neptunes-produced “Got Your Money,” featuring frequent collaborator Kelis, also on Clones. There is also N.O.R.E., who established his successful solo career with Neptunes-produced hits. 

In addition to the rap superstars of the 2000s, Clones featured names that grew in popularity as they continued to work with The Neptunes. Clipse, Ab-Liva, Roscoe P. Coldchain, and Fam-Lay all became synonymous with the legendary production duo. Williams and Hugo’s successful N.E.R.D. band with Shay Haley also appears. Combining The Neptunes’ signature production style and a host of A-list names allowed Clones to represent the current trending sound while shaping the future.

Impact & Influence

Clones, a commercially successful album that commanded radio stations, helped Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo rack up numerous accolades. “Frontin’” with JAY-Z was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2004 Grammys, the same ceremony where The Neptunes took home two Grammys for Producer of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Justin Timberlake’s Justified. They were also nominated for JAY-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss” and Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful” in three other categories. The Neptunes also won Producer of the Year at the 2003 Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Awards. 

Neptunes Present… Clones grew the careers of both Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, as well as the artists with whom they collaborated. Ludacris, JAY-Z, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, and Clipse continued releasing hit singles as they kept working with The Neptunes. Regarding their influence on the next generation, Tyler, The Creator has pointed directly to Clones as one of his greatest influences, specifically “Frontin’.” He has also attributed his artistic growth to his close working relationship with Pharrell. The Neptunes Present… Clones represents a time when the talented duo dominated various facets of mainstream music, pushing the boundaries of their sound.

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About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.