Hugo, a Filipino American who is the son of a retired Navy officer, was born in the South Hampton Roads city of Portsmouth, grew up in nearby Virginia Beach, and met Williams in the seventh grade during a summer program for gifted students. The two began working together, mixing beats and playing in various live bands. In 1992, while the two were attending different high schools in Virginia Beach, they sold their first song, “Rump Shakur,” to Wreckx-n-Effect. They subsequently scored songwriting and production assignments with artists such as Snoop Dogg and No Doubt.
In August 2002, The Neptunes were named Producers of the Year at both The Source Awards and the Billboard Awards. The album The Neptunes Present… Clones was then released, debuting at number one in August 2003.
"Frontin'" was a big summer hit and kept Williams' momentum running up to the release of Hugo and Williams' second funk/rock-oriented N.E.R.D album, released in March 2004.