Frontin' [US 12"/CD]

by: Pharrell

On the "Frontin'" single, Pharrell Williams takes the reins and cuts a track that is truly his own. Although Jay-Z is featured, the track is entirely Pharrell's. His vocals were featured heavily on the N.E.R.D. album, and he has continually producing masterpieces as part of the Neptunes, but he had never really taken control of an entire track the way he does on "Frontin'." His soulful vocal track shows that he is capable of extending his famous hip-hop choruses into a full-length song. The instrumental is not the strongest Neptunes production, but it seems to be designed that way. It allows Pharrell to lead the track and play-up the soul. Jay-Z's interlude seems unnecessary when he starts off his rhymes with "We got another one Pha-real/I call you Pha-real because you're the truth." Considering the interlude and Jay-Z's remix of Panjabi MC, the rapper begins to sound like he is phoning his rhymes in. Thankfully, Jay-Z's interlude in "Frontin'" doesn't diminish the track the same way he does on his Panjabi MC remix. With no vocal help, Pharrell offers up a stylish downbeat love anthem that remains true to the sense of humor that was evident on N.E.R.D.. On the 12", both the instrumental and a cappella are included, insuring a wealth of DJ blends and mash-ups. The a cappella seems like it would be more useful than the instrumental because the latter sounds plain on its own. It doesn't have the same stand-alone quality that "Grindin" and "When the Last Time" did. Despite the simplicity of the instrumental, Pharrell leads the track and manages to use it to the fullest. "Frontin'" is a quality soul track that proves Pharrell's worth as more than just accompaniment. ~ Matt Whalley

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