Now that his oft-delayed Star Trak/Interscope solo debut, “In My Mind,” is set for a July 25 release, Pharrell Williams is focusing on promoting the new disc and honing other projects. The Neptunes super producer will head to the studio later this year to begin recording a third N.E.R.D. album with partner Chad Hugo and rapper Shay.
“We’re going back in,” Williams tells Billboard.com. “I would like to have a first single drop in the first or second quarter of next year.” The new N.E.R.D. offering will be the follow-up to the trio’s 2004 set “Fly or Die,” which bowed at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 412,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In addition to collaborating with artists such as Ludacris, Beyonce, Snoop Dogg and, as previously reported, Velvet Revolver, Williams says the Neptunes are also producing new music for Jay-Z, who is rumored to be working on a comeback album.
“I don’t like talking about sh*t like that — I like people to hear the record,” says Williams, remaining tightlipped about the disc. “Different people inspire different things from me so the songs [I produce] are never going to sound the same. I used to have a formula maybe six or seven years ago but that got boring.”
Williams is also developing projects by his Star Trak artists, including Slim Thug, the Clipse and Fam-Lay, whose new single is titled “Da Beeper Record.” He is featured on the Clipse’s latest cut, “Mr. Me Too,” which steadily climbing the R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
At one point, he and the Clipse had been attempting to sever ties with Jive following its merger with Arista. “Everything is fine with the Clipse. I worked out my differences with Jive and made sure things were straight,” says Williams. “They’re on Star Trak under Jive and the song is getting a lot of burn.”
On the fashion side, Williams was recently tapped to appear in ads for Louis Vuitton’s fall and winter collections. “After I designed some sunglasses for them, they asked me what else I wanted to do,” he says. “I said I wanted to do jewelry so that’s coming out in ’07 and I’m doing watches in ’08.” The producer also plans on opening two more stores for his Ice Cream clothing collection: one in New York and another in Osaka, Japan.