Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

The return of Timbaland

Can Timbaland get back on top?

Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 20:38


There’s a great interview with Timbaland in New York Magazine. Check it out on the link thurrr.

It’s interesting to see the “return” of Timbaland and Pharrell at the moment. Of course, Pharrell never really went away, and has made 2013 one of his biggest years, with two giant splashes in the form of ‘Get Lucky’ and the godawful but massive ‘Blurred Lines’ as well as ‘Happy’ and its brilliant video. With Timbaland, it’s a little more complicated. He doesn’t have the voice, for one thing, he’s not as cool or as slick. And both of his “returns” this year have been luke warm, Justin’s poor 20/20 Experience which has one of the stupidest and irritating tracks of the year in ‘Suit And Tie’, and the moving-swiftly-on moment in Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail.

There’s no doubt that Timbaland is one of the greatest producers of the modern era. Although he never reached the mind-altering progressive heights of his high school buddies The Neptunes and Clipse (isn’t it amazing that all those dudes were friends since they were kids? Talk about scenius) he has probably had more eras than them, besides Pharrell. I still think the best Timabaland is the late 90s one; Aaliyah’s One In A Million, and of course his amazing collaborations with Missy Elliot – Supa Dupa Fly in ’97 and Da Real World in 1999, and then just out of that decade in 2001, the phenomenal Miss E… So Addictive.

Timbaland’s comfort zone was always really experimental smooth pop with Justin Timberlake, Brandy, Aaliyah and Nelly Furtado he excelled, but Missy’s work has stood the test of time along with FutureSex/LoveSounds. But with Hard Candy, everything kind of fell apart. His sound felt dated by the time Madonna jumped on the bandwagon, marking for her as well a feeling that would progress up to now, that she was out of time, and would need far longer than four minutes to save the world. I always thought Timbaland jumped the shark when he started turning up in music videos too much, gurning at the camera in a way so incongruous that even Diddy might raise an eyebrow. And his ego gets a good going over in the New York Magazine interview. But maybe now, with another solo album and another Missy album on the horizon, he’s about to get back to the good stuff.

There’s a telling quote in that interview though: “They have no stars in this generation… They have these D.J.’s, techno-whatever, that’s not music. That just goes to show you that drugs is that popular.” He sure knows how to programme, but can he get with it again?