Chad Hugo doesn’t do many interviews. He’ll turn up every couple of years, seemingly just to say hello and share what he’s been up to. Usually, it’s making music. Interviews, when they do arrive, often reaffirm Hugo’s dedication to his craft and disinterest in gossip. Hugo is well past the point of needing to boost his profile—but even early on, when The Neptunes and N*E*R*D were fresh voices rather than archetypes, Hugo demurred when the spotlight turned his way. Now that he’s one of music’s luminaries, the taciturn personality has, somewhat accidentally, enveloped Chad Hugo in an air of mystery.
That was certainly true for this interview—but after two false starts, we set a date and time. When Hugo appears in the lobby of a pristine new hotel abutting Brooklyn Bridge Park, he offers an apple. “This is for you,” he says, eyes still adjusting to the lobby’s morning light. Just a few hours earlier Hugo had been DJing a club night alongside Daniel Biltmore, the other half of his MSSLCMMND project. Their set hadn’t ended until 4 a.m., and Hugo had woke up hoarse—a rough break for someone who’s already softspoken. “Sorry if my voice is gone.”
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