We love Timothy Zachery Mosley. Who doesn’t love the one man beat monster that is Timbaland? And so we just thought that we would pause, as is our style, to pay tribute to the man and his music. But we’ll do so in a slightly roundabout way. We’ve got a story to tell.
Jay-Z’s documentary release Fade To Black is a brilliant portrait of a master entertainer creating a masterpiece of his trade. The Black Album is truly a classic of its time and seeing how Jay-Z’s works to create the brilliance found on the record is a valuable insight into his creative mind, and also his business acumen. But all of that aside, surely the best bit of the whole film is the segment where he is imploring, almost demanding, Timbaland to come up with a beat for him. It is astonishing to see Timbo crank out beat after beat that many producers, and indeed lyricists, would give their eye teeth for, with a nonchalance that comes from knowing he has plenty more where that came from, and he too is a master craftsman. And then the Dirt Off Your Shoulder beat comes in, and Jay’s eyes light up like a maniac, his brain starts whirring and his rap, a killer tune off the album, is born.
But what is truly amazing about that tune, is towards the end, and the segment when Timbaland starts cutting up and slowing down his own beat. You know the bit, timed at 3.21 when the backing drums suddenly slow down, Jay repeats the line from the opening about being the listener being tuned to the ‘Mo’fun greatest’, the insistent squelchy synth line you have been head-nodding to skitters and stutters, turns around and seems to have an epileptic fit right there on the backing track. It is genius. It is not as if the beats on this tune aren’t already incredible, and then Timbo just messes with it incredibly, making a standard fade out on a track a moment of inspiration.
And that is the point. Timbaland doesn’t seem to do standard. He can truly be named as great because of the change-up that his style has brought to the game, and his pre-eminence as a producer across genres. And his trademark style is so inventive, so commercially viable, and yet so at the forefront of innovation. Timbaland’s work could be a whole chapter of A Story To Tell, by itself and we’d still be here talking this time next year. When I started writing I had intended to talk about “My Love” from Justin Timberlake’s Futuresex/Lovesounds album and then I got waylaid. I was going to talk about how insane that tune’s production is as well as “Cry Me A River”, but that will have to wait. Just like the post on Ginuwine’s “Pony”. Or Missy’s “All In My Grill” or “Get Ur Freak On”. Or Ludacris and “Roll Out”. Or all of Aaliyah’s stuff. In fact this post has gone a little crazy at the end, just like that “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” beat, only not quite as brilliantly!