To say Pharrell Williams ever left would be inaccurate, but as far as the head Neptune is involved, 2013 feels like reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t been too tight with in a few years.

Starting a decade ago and running into the mid-2000s, Pharrell was one of the hottest featured players in music. A longtime producer whose work with the Neptunes was practically inescapable, even if one didn’t know who was behind the name, he moved into the realm of featured artist with Mystikal‘s 2000 hit “Shake Ya Ass,” and followed it with a string of Top 10 singles, most notably two No. 1 hits: Snoop Dogg‘s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and strip club anthem “Money Maker,” Ludacris‘ third No. 1 single.

But once “Money Maker” slid down the charts, so did Pharrell. From that song on, the singer/rapper/producer/jack of all trades faded out of the spotlight as quickly as he came, so much so that his departure from the public eye wasn’t even all that noticeable unless one really thought about it.

Now it’s 2013, a year in which popular music can’t decide what the hell it wants to do. The booming wubs of EDM still linger, morphing into arena anthems. Acts that would have found common ground on Radio Disney a decade ago rule with saccharine, innocuous love tunes. Many artists choose to revisit old trends, be it blue-eyed soul, decades-old funk or straight-up Police homages.

Apparently, we were ripe for a Pharrell comeback.



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