A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
As half of the Neptunes, along with partner Chad Hugo, Pharrell has enabled many a pop music career. Quite an array of stars, including Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg have benefited from the Neptunes' killer instincts as producers and arrangers. IN MY MIND allows the world to hear the music in Pharrell's mind. The results are mixed, with some lyrics that deal with contemporary issues and predictably sparkling arrangements. High points are the unapologetically raunchy "Can I Have It Like That," featuring Gwen Stefani, and "Keep It Playa," delivered with exuberant marching-band rhythms.
Is it any good?
A collage of hip-hop and soul tunes, IN MY MIND sticks to tried-and-true formulas with few musical surprises. Heavy explicit content practically ensures parental discomfort, but there are some beautiful and heartfelt lyrics as well -- addressing family, relationships, and how the death of a loved one affects the hearts of those left behind. Despite a few awkward steps and a LOT of strong language (edited CD is clumsily done and not worth the trouble), Pharrell has come up with some visceral material dealing with real-life issues.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using tough real-life experiences as material for songwriting. Pharrell sings poignantly about his grandmother's death, for example. You could also play "Angel" and let the vocals inspire a family-falsetto-singing contest. Families can talk about using life's hardships to fuel art, and how refreshing it can be when artists take musical risks, even if they are not 100 percent successful.