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‘This album is like a life soundtrack,” N*E*R*D frontman Chad Hugo says on their Web site. “It’s a diary of shit we’ve been through over the last year or two.”

And what shit they’ve been through. Hugo and partner Pharrell Williams are The Neptunes, the Virginia superproducers behind artists as diverse as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt and even Janet, N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. The line between producer and artist has long been blurred (The Neptunes have writing credits on ODB’s classic “Nigga Please”), but as N*E*R*D (No one Ever Really Dies), Hugo and Williams join forces with Minneapolis funk-rock band Spymob and become artists in their own right.

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