Way Back Wednesday: Timbaland

A weekly video spotlight on influential artists who came up pre-'00s

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Hello fellow music lovers and welcome to Way Back Wednesday, where we shed some light on some artists and jams from way back in the day.

One of my favorite producers of all time is, without a doubt, Timbaland. Not only is he among the most successful in the game, but he also crossed over into other genres, and changed the way we hear music today. The number of songs and artists he's touched is so profuse, he's basically a living legend. I remember finding out he'd worked on an album and eagerly checking the liner notes to see how many songs he produced, hoping for as many as possible. Timbaland has such a distinctive way of blending organic and synthetic tones with sample-hawking and beat-mixing that you could always tell when a song was produced by him. Many have tried to replicate his signature sound, but nobody can do it like Timbaland. Even the creators of Empire seemed to know this; Timbaland was tapped to oversee the music for Fox's hip hop-fueled drama, and all the singles he was had a direct hand in creating are arguably its best. In sum, the man can jam.

Background: Born and raised in Norfolk, Va., Timothy Mosely started out as DJ Timmy Tim, making beats on his Casio while in high school, where he kept good company with soon-to-be collaborator Magoo, a pre-legendary Pharrell Williams, Clipse rappers Pusha T and Malice, and long time musical sidekick Missy Elliot. Pharrell and Mosely were in a high school production team called S.B.I., but that didn't last long. At the age of 15, Mosely was accidentally shot and paralyzed for almost a year. During that time, he taught himself how to DJ with his left hand. He finally earned the attention and mentorship of Jodeci crooner and producer Devante Swing, where he picked up Mosely's stutter percussion and synth techniques, though Swing never reached the audiences that Mosely soon would. Swing is also credited with giving Mosely his Timbaland moniker, and led a super group of writers and artists called Da Bassment, which found Swing joined by Timbaland, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Playa, Ginuwine, Magoo and Tweet. Timbo produced a song on Jodeci's Diary Of A Mad Band and Sista's debut album that never saw a proper release, but finally saw mainstream breakthrough in 1996, when he handled the majority of production and writing on Aaliyah's sophomore album, One In A Million, which relaunched Aaliyah's career, and put Timbaland on the map, forever. Just a few months later, he did the same thing for newcomer Ginuwine and debut LP Ginuwine....The Bachelor

Notable Albums: Timbaland paired up with friend and rapper Magoo to produce Welcome To Our World in 1997. This was the first time Timbaland was heavily featured as a rapper in his own right. "Up Jumps The Boogie" was the lead single, and marked their most successful to date, followed by a few more lesser known odes, "Clock Strikes" and "Luv 2 Luv Ya." The beats on the entire album were top notch, and proved that Timbo could juggle dual duties of beat maker and rapper. Welcome To Our World sold more a million copies and earned platinum status. 

Timbaland only released one solo album prior to 2000, Tim's Bio: Life From Da Bassment in 1998. It's more of a compilation than a proper solo LP jam-packed with guest appearances by heavy hitters like Jay-Z, Nas, Missy Elliot, Ludacris, Twista, Aaliyah, Ginuwine and Mad Skillz. Timbaland's debut spawned several singles, the biggest being "Lobster And Scrimp," featuring Jay Z,  which he also directed. 

Some of Timbaland's most memorable songs — ones he either produced or performed on or both — are featured below.

Aaliyah, "One In A Million"

Aaliyah featuring Timbaland, "Are You That Somebody?"

Ginuwine featuring Timbaland, "Pony" (Ride It Remix)

Timbaland and Magoo, "Up Jumps The Boogie"

Timbaland and Magoo, "Luv 2 Luv Ya"
Timbaland featuring Jay-Z, "Lobster And Scrimp"
Missy Elliott feat. Timbaland and Magoo, "Beep Me 911"

Nas featuring Ginuwine, "You Owe Me"

Where does Timbaland rank as a producer for you? What's your favorite song from him?


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