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In My Mind (Interscope Records)
Pharrell Williams

By Kory Wilcoxson

You could argue that no one has had a bigger influence on the sound of rap and R&B than Pharrell Williams. As one-half of production team The Neptunes, he has shaped the styles of everyone from Snoop Dogg to Justin Timberlake. So it only makes sense that Pharrell's first album in front of the microphone would feature a smooth blending of cutting-edge hip hop and silky R&B tracks.

Instead of a collage, In My Mind is a train wreck. You'd expect the production to be good and in most cases, it is. Pharrell backs himself up with some booming, funky beats, showing a diverse and eclectic taste in music. But the problem is that so many of the songs make you say, "Hey, that sounds just like ..." and none of them gives Pharrell his own signature sound.

A stellar lineup of guest stars can't help. Gwen Stefani offers a sparse five-word cameo on "Can I Have It Like That," and both Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z deliver substandard performances compared to their own Pharrell-produced hits. Kanye West offers the best contribution on "Number One," but at track 14, there's no guarantee listeners will get that far. Pharrell has shown amazing skills behind the soundboard. In My Mind proves he should stay there.

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