N.E.R.D's "Lemon" features Rihanna's rapping debut and it's fire

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N.E.R.D. is back - yes, you read that right. Pharrell Williams' critically praised project is back, having just dropped their single "Lemon" featuring some of Rihanna's freshest (and very first) bars.

The surprise collaboration between the two was dropped this past Friday, premiering on Apple's Beats 1 with an accompanying music video moments later featuring breakout star and backup Pharrell dancer Mette Towley. The Todd Tourso and Scott Cudmore-directed video opens with footage of Rihanna shaving Towley's head before launching into a fiery minute-long verse. "I pull up with a lemon," she nonchalantly muses, somehow not really trying at all, "not cause she ain't livin / it's just your eyes get acidic." Towley quickly becomes the star of the video, with the entirety of it focusing on her magnetic moves.

N.E.R.D - which is made up of Pharrell, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley - is set to release their first record since 2010's Nothing, although there's no release date in sight. According to Noisey, the 11 track album "will feature Gucci Mane, Wale, Future, Kendrick Lamar, M.I.A., André 3000 and Ed Sheeran." The album, No One Ever Really Dies on Day 1, hosts "Don't Do It" featuring Lamar which was supposedly inspired by the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in September of last year. A lucky few were able to hear the album in it's entirety as N.E.R.D. recently took the stage at ComplexCon last Saturday night, with a comeback performance to boot.

The video's breakout star, Towley, has been making headlines as well as landing a recent profile in the FADER. Speaking on the experience of having her head shaved by pop icon Rihanna, she didn't hold back: It's not about the hair. It's about my physical presence and how I was able to commit was because of this incredible team and what we did together. It was a transformation for me. I remember being in college at the University of Minnesota and my professor said, "There's going to be a day where you're going to realize that you've been transformed by dance and performance and who you know yourself to be is going to become greater," she said. "This is that project for me. I finally had that light go off where I was able to stand strong and be, but be in ways that I never imagined. Just fearless. I look at that character, which is modeled after me, I embody that. I want women around the world to get that and feel it. I want people to appreciate the dance. Dance is transformative." All signs point to this N.E.R.D project being just what we need in the year 2017.

Check out the full tracklist below:

1. "Deep Down Body Thirst"
2. "Lemon" ft. Rihanna
3. "Voilà" ft. Gucci Mane & Wale
4. "1000" ft. Future
5. "Don't Don't Do It" ft. Kendrick Lamar
6. "Kites" ft. Kendrick Lamar and M.I.A.
7. "ESP"
8. "Lightning Fire Magic Prayer"
9. "Rollinem 7's" ft. André 3000
10. "Lifting You" ft. Ed Sheeran
11. "Secret Life of Tigers"

Vanessa is a music and culture writer. Follow her on twitter.


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