"I want you to be shocked and exhilarated."
No One Ever Really Dies, the upcoming fifth studio album from the trio made up of The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams and CHad Hugo alongside their childhood friend Shay, will be released later this week. In a new interview with the Guardian, the group spoke of the bold new political direction of the album, something you wouldn't take away from lead single "Lemonade."
The album is said to feature a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar and M.I.A., which addresses Trump's travel bans and plans to build a wall at the Mexican border. However, the "centerpiece" of the album, according to Pharrell, is "Don’t Don’t Do It," a second collaboration with Kendrick. The song will discuss the 2016 shooting of Keith Scott by North Carolina police. “This was something I saw on the news. We have that crazy, crazy man [running the country] but also they have police that shoot unarmed black people the whole time. It rains and they shoot black people,” he said. According to the piece, it has an upbeat "Hey Ya"-esque feel. “I hid the story in something that’s so jubilant because that way you won’t miss the message,’’ Williams explained. As for the musical aspect of the album, it takes notes from Gang Of Four, early electro, and much more. “You never quite know what’s going to happen next,” said Pharrell. “I want you to be shocked and exhilarated.”
Following the political awakening of the group, Pharrell shared some thoughts on his previous work that might not look very progressive in 2017 ("Blurred Lines," which was criticized for "rapey" subject matter, is mentioned in the piece). “I’ve made all kinds of songs in my career,” he said. “People might say: ‘Oh what about this song?’ Yep, you’re right. I recognise now. I get it. It was fun to me at the time, but the earth changes and the rules change. We have to remember that. Context is important.”
No One Ever Really Dies is set to feature appearances from Gucci Mane, Wale, Andre 3000, and Ed Sheeran (who, according to the Guardian, uses a "questionable accent" on his appearance). The album will be released December 15th.