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They later entered a high school talent show where they were discovered by Teddy Riley, whose studio was next to Princess Anne High School.
That same year, he also performed a small rap solo on SWV's second hit, "Right Here (UK Remix)".
Over the next three years they continued to produce occasionally, and some of the results had little resemblance to the Neptunes' sound later. E's "Superthug" in 1998, reaching number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, and gaining them widespread attention for the first time.
However, some like Mase's 1997 song "Lookin' at Me" from his album Harlem World, and the most definite beginning of the distinctive "Neptunes sound", came with N. In 2000, they produced the song I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) (featuring a chorus by Pharrell himself) for Jay Z's album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, which released as the album's first single.
The song's sound and success sparked the interest of maturing pop artist Britney Spears.
In 2001, Britney Spears released her album Britney featuring the lead single "I'm a Slave 4 U", which was produced by The Neptunes.
The album sounded very much like their previous production work; the group decided that they should make their work as N*E*R*D sound different, and re-recorded the album with the rock band Spymob. In August of the same year, the Neptunes were named "Producers of the Year" at both the Source Awards and the Billboard Music Awards.
In November 2004, Gwen Stefani released her first debut studio album Love. The single did poorly in the US, reaching only number 48. Between then and the July 25, 2006 release of In My Mind, he released "Angel" (in Europe only), and later "Number One" with Kanye West.
They also gained their first UK number one, again with Nelly, and "Flap Your Wings".
In September 2004, Williams was featured on the Snoop Dogg single "Drop It Like It's Hot." The song would eventually peak at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 two months later, marking Williams's first number one single in the United States. which featured the song Hollaback Girl, which was also produced by The Neptunes.
Williams and Hugo met rap duo Clipse in Virginia Beach in 1993, where they were signed to Arista Records through Williams' Star Trak Entertainment imprint.
In 1994, Hugo and Williams had established themselves as a production duo under their old name "The Neptunes", and assistant-produced "Tonight's The Night" from Blackstreet's self-titled album.