By: John Kennedy
The world is Timbaland’s mega mixing board. Virginia’s mad scientist can draw quirky-but-catchy inspiration from anywhere: a baby crying, croaking frog, his own beatboxing. His arrival in ’96 flipped R&B on its noggin, injecting a punch of naked energy and synthetic sexuality on records like Ginuwine’s pulsating “Pony,” while he and soul mate Missy Elliott’s hip-hop invasion was embodied by the fluorescent yet overbearing balance of the Godzillian “Sock It 2 Me.”
Tim’s vibrant compositions, with those Tourette’s drums, elevated his angelic muse Aaliyah to new celestial heights and even made Magoo’s raps tolerable. His arsenal is genre-deaf, allowing him to bounce between Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, Björk and Justin Timberlake. The latter, another (blue-eyed) soul mate, couldn’t bring sexy back for the first time on FutureSex/LoveSounds or beam the music world into another dimension again on the amazing The 20/20 Experience without Timbo’s vision copiloting. In short, Timbaland doesn’t just create music, he gives it new life.
Marcella Araica, Timbaland’s recording and mixing engineer, says:
“One thing I always found amazing was how Timbaland could hear anything from the water dripping in the faucet to someone’s foot pounding the floor and immediately run with it. There would be times when he’d run into the studio from the car and just jump on his keyboard to start mimicking whatever he heard. He has no fear in his approach. He doesn’t go in with a kind of thought like, I need 16 bars here or this here. He just goes with it; and that’s what makes it fresh. I’ve never seen a producer that does it like him.”