The acronym N.E.R.D. stands for "No One Ever Really Dies," but childhood friends Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams, and Shay most certainly used the group to proudly emphasize the nerdier aspects of their musical personalities. Before this side project took shape, Hugo and Williams -- as the Neptunes -- had established themselves as giants in the field of pop production, whether they were working with hardcore rappers, smooth crooners, or teen pop groups. Although their faces were known to many due to this prominence, N.E.R.D. allowed the duo to take center stage, as rock stars, even if a new alias was being used.