Timothy Z. Mosley (born March 10 1971), who works under the performing name Timbaland, is a Grammy Award-winning American record producer, composer, rapper, and singer. Primarily known for his work in urban pop, Timbaland has produced hit albums and singles for a number of artists from the mid-1990s to the present day.
His production style is marked by its unusual arrangements, sounds, and instrumentation tied together by a trademark sense of space and rhythm. He has produced many top-ten hits, in a variety of genres, and has spawned many imitators. In addition to his production credits, Timbaland has ventured out as a performer, both as part of a duo with childhood friend Magoo and as a solo performer. He can often be found adding vocals to many of the songs he produces as well.
Mosley was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. Originally a disc jockey known as "DJ Timmy Tim" or "DJ Tiny Tim", Mosley began making hip-hop backing tracks on a Casio keyboard he owned. Rapper Missy Elliott heard his material and, taken by Mosley’s unique sense of rhythm, immediately began working with him. She and her R&B group Sista auditioned for DeVante Swing, a producer and member of the successful R&B act Jodeci. Devante signed Sista to his Swing Mob record label, and Elliott brought Mosley and Barcliff along with her to New York, where Swing Mob was based. It was Devante who renamed the young producer Timbaland, after Timberland construction boots, which were popular in hip-hop fashion.
Sista and Timbaland & Magoo became part of Devante’s stable of Swing Mob signees known as "Da Bassment" crew, joining artists such as R&B singer Ginuwine, male vocal group Playa, and the girl group Sugah. Timbaland did production work on a number of projects with Devante, including the 1995 Jodeci LP The Show, The After-Party, The Hotel, and Sista’s debut LP 4 All the Sistas Around the World, which was shelved and never released. At this time Jodeci was pivotal in defining the 1990s new jack swing sound, which mixed R&B and soul vocals with beats, sampling and swagger from hip-hop. He later joined the production ensemble S.B.I. (Surrounded By Idiots) that also featured current Neptunes producerPharrell Williams.
By 1995, most of Devante’s acts had broken their ties with the producer. However, perhaps fostered by the communal atmosphere of "Da Bassment" crew, Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Magoo, Playa, and Ginuwine continued to collaborate on their individual projects. Missy Elliott began receiving recognition as a songwriter for artists such as R&B girl group 702 and MC Lyte. Due to his connection with Missy, Timbaland was often tapped to produce remixes of Missy Elliot-penned songs. One of these, the remix to 702’s "Steelo" in 1996, became Timbaland’s first major production credit.
The "Timbaland sound": 1996–1999
In 1996, Ginuwine released his debut album, Ginuwine...the Bachelor, which was produced entirely by Timbaland. The album was both a commercial and critical success, and its lead single, "Pony", was the first example of what would become the signature Timbaland sound.
The track for "Pony," which Timbaland had created during the Swing Mob days, was characterized by a shifting, syncopated rhythm, similar to samba or drum and bass, which used snare and kick hits on typically non-accented beats in the measure. Stuttering high-hats typical of southern bass music accompanied the basic drum sounds, which were severely gated to create short, strong sounds that were unusual for hip-hop and R&B. This use of the "short snare" is in marked contrast to the "long snare" sound in New Wave music in the 1980s, which featured a heavily amplified, almost white noise snare drum put through reverberation. Accompanying the unusual rhythm were melody lines created by playing odd sound effects (vocal effects and cartoon slide whistles) through a sampling keyboard. Timbaland carried similar production and arrangements throughout the album. On many of the tracks, Timbaland can be heard either rapping or providing ad-libs, similar to what both Missy Elliott and Puff Daddy were doing at the time; Timbaland’s deep voice was usually vocoded to give it an electronic sound.
While work was being completed on Ginuwine...the Bachelor, R&B artist Aaliyah contacted Timbaland and Missy Elliott to write and produce most of her second album, One In A Million. The tracks that were crafted for Aaliyah featured innovative arrangements similar to those on Ginuwine...the Bachelor. One In A Million went on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide, and made superstars out of not only Aaliyah, but Missy Elliott and Timbaland as well.
Missy Elliott and Timbaland became one of the most successful and prolific songwriting/production teams of the late-1990s. By the end of the decade, Timbaland’s sound had been heard in records from artists such as SWV, Destiny’s Child, Nicole Wray, Total, Jay-Z, and Nas. Most of his production work during this period was reserved for his original stable of collaborators: two Missy Elliott albums (Supa Dupa Fly and Da Real World), a second effort by Ginuwine (100% Ginuwine), and Playa’s debut album (Cheers 2 U). Timbaland produced much (if not all) of the material on many of their albums during this period, and also made two albums of his own: one with Magoo, and one solo album. Timbaland’s own raps, which were usually ghostwritten by Elliott, Magoo, or his younger brother Garland Mosley (AKA Sebastian), were almost always accompanied by other MCs, including his main collaborators and numerous guest artists.
Timbaland spawned a plethora of imitators, some of whom went as far as to sample sections of his work to create similar-sounding tracks, and his influence on the genre has been compared to that of Brian Eno and Phil Spector by some reviewers. Another music critic, Kelefa Sanneh called Timbaland “the most exciting producer in pop music” and compared him to James Brown. The popularity of the "Timbaland sound" marked a shift in hip-hop music from rougher, sample-based tracks to simpler, more synthetic musical accompaniment. Since Timbaland worked in both hip-hop and R&B and often combined elements of one in tracks for the other, his work aided the blending together of the two genres, which became less and less distinct during the first half of the 2000s.
Foreign, especially Asian, instrumentation is present through much of his early work (Xscape’s "My Secret" remix, especially, with a rollicking sitar outro and Timbaland ad-libbing "Let’s take a little trip...to India"), but was most successful and prevalent with Jay-Z’s "Big Pimpin'" (1999), which borrowed directly from the song "Khosara" by Egyptian composer Abdel Halim Hafez. Missy Elliott’s 2001 hit single, "Get Ur Freak On" from her third album, Miss E...So Addictive, was also likewise a smash, using a speedy Tabla drumline typical of Hindustani classical music. In his second album, on the track "Party People", Tim sampled a track from Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi, skillfully imitating the illustrious strumming of Mtukudzi’s guitar. His borrowing from these cultures has resulted in mixed reactions, with many critics embracing his musical adventurousness and eclecticism and more esoteric, purist factions reacting cautiously, and sometimes negatively. In an interview with Missy Elliott in RayGun Magazine, he mentioned a diverse base of influences, from UK Drum and Bass to Garage.
Timbaland-produced songs such as Ludacris' "Roll Out (My Business)", Jay-Z’s "Hola' Hovito", Petey Pablo’s "Raise Up", and Beck’s cover of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" that were recorded and released during this period, and he contributed to Limp Bizkit’s 2001 remix album, New Old Songs. He also contributed three songs--all eventually released as singles--to Aaliyah’s self-titled third album, the exotic lead single "We Need a Resolution" (featuring himself rapping a verse), "More Than a Woman", and the ballad "I Care 4 U".
Timbaland & Magoo’s second album together was slated for release in November 2000. Indecent Proposal was to feature appearances by Beck, Aaliyah, as well as new Timbaland protégés -- some from his new Beat Club Records imprint--Ms. Jade, Kiley Dean, Sebastian, Petey Pablo, and Tweet (who was a member of Sugah during the Swing Mob days).
The album was delayed for an entire year, finally released in November 2001. It was a commercial disappointment, perhaps owing to its release after the September 11th attacks. Beck’s vocals for the track "I Am Music" were not included on the final version, which instead featured Timbaland singing alongside Steve "Static" Garrett of Playa and Aaliyah, who had been killed in a plane crash that August.
The loss of Aaliyah deeply affected Timbaland, whose work was less omnipresent after 2001. In a phone call to the MTV show Total Request Live, Timbaland said:
"She was like blood, and I lost blood," "Me and her together had this chemistry. I kinda lost half of my creativity to her. It's hard for me to talk to the fans right now. Beyond the music, she was a brilliant person, the [most special] person I ever met."
Timbaland contributed three tracks to Tweet’s debut album, Southern Hummingbird, and produced most of Missy Elliott’s fourth and fifth LPs, Under Construction and This Is Not A Test! He also produced tracks for artists such as Lil’ Kim ("The Jump Off") and southern rapper Pastor Troy during this period. Collaborating with fellow producer Scott Storch, Timbaland also worked on a number of tracks on former *NSYNC lead singer Justin Timberlake’s solo debut, Justified, including the massive hit "Cry Me a River". The adult sound and themes of this break-up song would sever Timberlake from his teenybopper image. Timbaland also reached a new level of success, not only for the production, but for his rap and appearance in the eerie music video, where Timberlake breaks into an ex-girlfriend's house.
Late in 2003, Timbaland delivered the second Bubba Sparxxx album, Deliverance, and the third Timbaland & Magoo album, Under Construction, Part II. Both albums were released to little fanfare or acclaim even though Deliverance was praised by reviews and embraced by the internet community.
Timbaland continued to produce hit singles and albums for artists; in 2004 Timbaland-produced singles by LL Cool J, Xzibit, Fatman Scoop and Jay-Z became staples on urban radio, and he produced the bulk of Brandy’s fourth album, Afrodisiac. The Timbaland-produced song "I'm So Fly" on Lloyd Banks’s 2004 debut album The Hunger for More is significant in that it was the first official Timbaland production bearing a co-production credit from Danja, who would go on to become a requisite collaborator with Timbaland in the future.
Embracing an international audience, Timbaland lent a hand to three tracks off bilingual Japanese Pop star Utada Hikaru’s debut English album, Exodus. He returned to familiar friends to work on tracks for Tweet and for Missy Elliott’s sixth album, The Cookbook: "Joy (feat. Mike Jones)" & "Partytime" and continued to expand his reach with production for The Game and Jennifer Lopez ("He'll Be Back" from her fifth studio album, Rebirth.)
Timbaland started a new label distributed by Interscope, Mosley Music Group, bringing some talent from his former Beat Club Records label. On the new label are Nelly Furtado, Keri Hilson, and rapper D.O.E.. Timbaland’s has parternship and mentorship with producer Nate "Danjahandz" Hills. During 2006, Timbaland had seven singles receiving massive airplay worldwide: "Promiscuous", "Maneater", "All Good Things (Come to an End)" and "Say It Right", all by Nelly Furtado; and Justin Timberlake’s "SexyBack", "My Love" and "What Goes Around.../...Comes Around Interlude". Additionally, Timbaland also appears in most of the videos.
Adding to Timbaland's radio domination, he provides vocals on the singles the Pussycat Dolls's "Wait a Minute", Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" and "Ice Box" by Omarion, all of which climbed the U.S. charts. Timbaland is rumored to have future singles put out by Tweet, Monica, Chingy, and the first single off Redman’s long anticipated album Red Gone Wild. In an interview published in August 2006 in the UK, Timbaland revealed he was working on a new LP by Jay-Z and that he had been working on tracks with Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
In an interview published in August 2007, Timbaland declared that he had worked on seven songs for Björk’s new album (three of which, "Earth Intruders", "Hope" and "Innocence" will appear on the album), and in another he was later reportedly working on tracks for the new Duran Duran album, Red Carpet Massacre, including one featuring his frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake. Rounding out the year, Timbaland produced songs for Bone Thugs N Harmony's LP, Strength & Loyalty and the song "Ayo Technology" on 50 Cent’s album Curtis.
Timbaland also plays a major role in Ashlee Simpson's third CD: Bittersweet World. He produced most of the tracks and called the CD a really moving and party CD. He also made the original version of Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya).
Rounding out Timbaland's creative skills, he partnered with Open Labs to produce the Timbaland Special Edition MiKo keyboard work-center. At a cost of close to $3,000, it contains more than 24-gigabytes of sounds with over 25,000 presets. The proud creator announced “It’s got everything I need in a single box and when I use it, we make masterpieces.”
On April 3, 2007, Timbaland released a collaboration album featuring artists such as 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Elton John, Fall Out Boy, Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott, and others called Timbaland Presents Shock Value. The first single, "Give It to Me" featuring Nelly Furtado and Timberlake, topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The album’s second hit, titled "The Way I Are", features Mosley labelmates Keri Hilson and D.O.E. The third single, a remix of the OneRepublic song "Apologize" was a Billboard Hot 100 hit for the last quarter of 2007.
In April 2007, he appeared on WWE programming in segments with several WWE Divas. Later that month, he filmed a music video for the song "Throw It On Me", starring Ashley Massaro, Kelly Kelly, Brooke, Torrie Wilson, Layla El, and Maryse. Timbaland reached a new audience with his October 9th performance with Keri Hilson of "The Way I Are" on the ABC soap opera One Life To Live.
However, rivalry flared up between Timbaland and record producer Scott Storch. The tension initially started on the single "Give It to Me", when Timbaland anonymously called out Storch, rapping, "I'm a real producer and you just the piano man". He went on to rap that "I get a half a mill fo' my beats, you get a couple grand". Timbaland confirmed that he was talking about Storch in an interview with MTV personality Sway Calloway. He said that he would go after the trash talkers on his new album Shock Value.
Storch responded with the track "Built Like That" on February 26, 2007, which features Philadelphia rapper NOX. On the track, Storch claims to have been solely responsible for the production of the 2002 Justin Timberlake hit "Cry Me a River", for which he received a basket of fruit. He also claims that Timbaland’s production partner Danja has been responsible for his recent string of hits with Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake, and mocks the commercial failure of Timbaland’s former Beat Club label. Timbaland responded with the song Piano Man by Mosley Music Group artist D.O.E., claiming that Scott Storch uses a piano to make his beats. The end of the feud was confirmed by Timbaland in the final issue of Scratch Magazine.
2008 and beyond
Many upcoming productions for 2008 are slated for Timbaland, including Hard Candy by Madonna, Bittersweet World by Ashlee Simpson, and other untitled albums and songs by such artists as Chris Cornell, Usher, Teairra Mari, The Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Scherzinger, Missy Elliott, Jennifer Hudson, and Sugababes. Shock Value II, his third solo studio album, is also slated for a 2008 release.
The rap single "Elevator" by Flo Rida featured Timbaland in production and vocals. Other Timbaland productions for 2008 have included French singer M. Pokora's new single, "Dangerous" featuring himself and his (Timbaland's) brother Sebastian.
|2007||"Give It To Me"||3||1||1||1||16||3||7||2||21|
|"The Way I Are"||2||3||1||1||1||5||2||1||1|
|Total Number-one hits||1||1||2||3||2||1||0||1||2|
In November 2007, it was confirmed that Timbaland has become a father to a baby girl. The mother is publicist Monique Idlett (who works at Timbaland's Mosley Music Group record company). They have been dating for two years and will marry in 2008. Timbaland proposed to Idlett at their baby shower in October. On February 8, 2008, it was announced that Timbaland would be releasing an album solely on a mobile platform for Verizon V-cast cell phones and was designated Verizon's very first "Mobile Producer in Residence." Timbaland will be joined by Mosley Music Group/Zone 4 singer/songwriter Keri Hilson to begin work on the mobile album’s first track aboard the fully-equipped Mobile Recording Studio. The only track to surface so far is "Get It Girl".
Awards and nominations
- American Music Awards
- 2007, Favorite Male Pop/Rock Artist (nominated)
- BET Hip-Hop Awards
- 2007, Best Producer
- Grammy Awards
- 2008, Record of the Year "What Goes Around...Comes Around" (Producer) (nominated)
- 2008, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals "Give It to Me" (with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado) (nominated)
- 2008, Best Dance Recording "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows" WON
- 2008, Best Rap Song "Ayo Technology" (Songwriter, Producer)
- 2008, Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
- 2007, Album of the Year FutureSex/LoveSounds (Producer) (nominated)
- 2007, Best Pop Collaboration w/ Vocals "Promiscuous" (nominated)
- 2007, Best Dance Recording "Sexyback" WON
- 2004, Best Contemporary R&B Album "Afrodisiac" (Producer) (nominated)
- 2004, Album of the Year Justified (Producer) (nominated)
- 2004, Album of the Year Under Construction (Producer) (nominated)
- 2004, Best Rap Song "Work It" (Nominated)
- 2000, Best R&B Song "Get Ur Freak On" (nominated)
- Belgium TMF Award
- 2007, Best International Urban
- BRIT Awards
- 2008, Best International Male Artist (nominated)
- JUNO Awards
- 2008, Best International Album- Shock Value (Nominated)
- MTV Europe Music Awards
- 2007, Ultimate Urban (nominated)
- MTV Video Music Awards
- 2007, Most Earthshattering Collaboration "Sexyback" (nominated)
- 2007, Monster Single of the Year "The Way I Are" (nominated)
- 2007, Best Pop Video "Promiscuous" (nominated)
- 2007, Best Dance Video "Promiscuous"; (nominated)
- MTV Australia Video Music Awards
- 2007, Best Hook-Up "Sexyback"
- People's Choice Awards
- 2008, Favorite Hip-Hop Song "Give It to Me"
- Teen Choice Awards
- 2007, Choice Male Artist (nominated)
- 2007, Choice Rap Artist
- 2007, Choice Music Single "Give It to Me" (nominated)
- 2007, Choice Rap Track "The Way I Are"
- 2006, Choice R&B/Hip-Hop Track "Promiscuous"
- 2006, Choice Summer Track "Promiscuous"
- 2003, Choice Music Collaboration "Cry Me a River" (nominated)
- Vibe Music Awards
- 2007, Best Producer
- 2008, Songwriter of the Year WON
- Welcome to Our World (1997, Timbaland & Magoo)
- Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment (1998)
- Indecent Proposal (2001, Timbaland & Magoo)
- Under Construction, Part II (2003, Timbaland & Magoo)
- Timbaland Presents Shock Value (2007)
- Remix & Soundtrack Collection (2007)
- Timbaland Presents Shock Value 2 (2008)
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