Timothy Z. Mosley (born March 10, 1971), better known as Timbaland, is an American musical composer and R&B record producer and rapper whose style influenced both genres even helping to blur the distinction between R&B and hip-hop, as well as pop and dance music. With partner Magoo, he is a member of hip-hop duo Timbaland & Magoo.
Timbaland has been considered similar to producers such as Brian Eno, Phil Spector or Norman Whitfield in that he helped to redefine the sound of an entire genre of music with an immediately recognizable production style. The songs he produces feature unusual arrangements, sounds, and instrumentation, tied together by a trademark sense of space and rhythm. Like Spector and Whitfield, Timbaland's production sometimes overshadows the credited performer and becomes the actual "star" of the song. With songwriters Steve "Static" Garrett and childhood friend Missy Elliott, Timbaland has helped to create some of the most successful songs in modern pop music and urban music, including singles for Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Ludacris, Nelly Furtado and The Pussycat Dolls.
Mosley was born and grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, where he became acquainted with Missy Elliott and Melvin Barcliff, whose MC name was "Magoo." Originally a disc jockey known as "DJ Timmy Tim," Mosley began making hip-hop backing tracks on a Casio keyboard he owned. Elliott heard his material and, taken by Mosley's unique sense of rhythm, immediately began working with him. After several collaborations, the trio moved to Suffern, NY.
Elliott and her girl group Sista auditioned for DeVante Swing, producer and member of successful R&B act Jodeci. Devante signed Sista to his Swing Mob label, and Elliott brought Mosley and Barcliff along with her. Mosley began working under Devante, who renamed the young producer Timbaland, after the Timberland boot 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 and groups such as male singer Ginuwine, male vocal group Playa, and 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, which was shelved and never saw release.
Timbaland was also friends with Pharrell Williams, and had dabbled in projects with him as S.B.I., or Surrounded By Idiots. Williams recalls in an interview: "In seventh grade I met Chad [Hugo, the other half of The Neptunes]. That’s twenty years ago by now. Like I said earlier, we started producing beats together. But then again, I also played with this famous group which consisted of Timbaland, Magoo, myself and some other guy. Chad wasn’t a part of the group, so I was in "The Neptunes" and "Surrounded By Idiots" at the same time."
In 1995, most of Devante's acts broke their ties with the producer and went their own ways. Elliott, Timbaland, Magoo, Playa, and Ginuwine continued to collaborate, and began working on individual projects. Elliott began receiving recognition as a songwriter and guest artist for artists such as 702 and MC Lyte, and Timbaland was sometimes assigned to produce remixes of Elliott-penned songs. One of these, the remix to 702's "Steelo" in 1996, became Timbaland's first important production credit.
Also 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 first single, "Pony," was the first example of what would later become the signature Timbaland sound.
The track for "Pony," which Timbaland had created two years prior during the Swing Mob days, was characterized by a shifting, syncopated rhythm, similar to samba or jungle music, 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, unusual for hip-hop and R&B of this period, severely gated to create short, strong sounds. 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. The other tracks on Ginuwine...the Bachelor also featured similar production and arrangements. On many of the tracks, Timbaland can be heard either rapping or providing ad-libs, similar to what both 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 Elliott and Timbaland as well.
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. 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, "We Need a Resolution" featuring himself, "More Than a Woman," and the ballad "I Care 4 U".
Timbaland & Magoo's second album together, Indecent Proposal, had been scheduled for release in November 2000, and was to feature appearances by Beck, Aaliyah, and new Timbaland protégés -- some of whom were signed to 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 being released the following November. It was a commercial disappointment. Beck's vocals for the track "I Am Music" were not included on the final released version, which instead featured Timbaland singing alongside Static (Steven Garrett) of Playa and Aaliyah, who had been killed in a plane crash three months before the release of the album. The loss of Aaliyah deeply affected Timbaland, whose work was less omnipresent after 2001.
The first release on Beat Club was the debut album by Bubba Sparxxx in September 2001, Dark Days, Bright Nights. 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 hit singles and album tracks for artists such as Lil’ Kim ("The Jump Off") and Pastor Troy during this period. Collaborating with Scott Storch, Timbaland also produced a number of tracks on former *NSYNC lead singer Justin Timberlake's solo debut, Justified, including the hit single "Cry Me a River." This would eventually lead to a fallout between the two producers, as Storch would claim that he was not given proper production credit for "Cry Me a River." While Storch is creditted as a co-writer and pianist on the song, production is creditted solely to Timbaland.
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. Timbaland also lent a hand to three tracks off bilingual Japanese Pop star Utada's debut English album, Exodus. New songs from artists such as Tweet and The Game were released in 2005.
In 2005, Timbaland produced a song on Tweet and The Game's albums ("Steer" and "Put You on the Game" respectively). He also produced two songs on Missy Elliott's sixth album, The Cookbook: "Joy (feat. Mike Jones)" & "Partytime", as well as "He'll Be Back" on Jennifer Lopez's fifth studio album, Rebirth.
Timbaland started a new label, Mosley Music Group, once again under Interscope out of the former Beat Club Records label he had previously managed. On the label are singers Nelly Furtado and Keri Hilson, and rapper D.O.E. Timbaland's parternship and mentorship of upcoming producer Nate "Danjahandz" Hills is evident in Timbaland's rejuvenation in music. Furtado's third album, Loose, was released under MMG in June 2006, debuting at number one in U.S. Timbaland has also worked with Whitney Houston, JC Chasez, Missy Elliott, Diddy, Young Jeezy, Chingy, The Game, Chilli of TLC, Tweet, Björk, 50 Cent, Rich Boy, UGK, Stat Quo, Snoop Dogg, rapper Eve and more.
During 2006, Timbaland had seven singles receiving massive airplay worldwide: "Promiscuous", "Maneater", "All Good Things (Come to an End)" and "Say It Right" by Nelly Furtado, and Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack", "My Love" and "What Goes Around.../...Comes Around Interlude", (Timbaland produced Timberlake's U.S. number-one album FutureSex/LoveSounds along with protege Danja and Timberlake himself,) and also appears in most of the videos for these songs. He provides vocals on the singles "Wait a Minute" by The Pussycat Dolls, Say It Right by Nelly Furtado and "Ice Box" by Omarion, all of which climbed the charts in the U.S., and he appears in the videos for these three songs as well. Timbaland is rumored to have future singles put out by Tweet, 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. Timbaland has also recently worked with UK record producer "SK." Both parties have delayed plans for further collaborations due to school commitments from the latter. In January 2007, SK was mentioned in a radio interview by Timbaland who remarked he was a rising star.
On April 3, 2007, Timbaland released a collaboration album featuring artists such as 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 Justin Timberlake, topped Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The album's second single, titled "The Way I Are," features Mosley labelmates Keri Hilson and D.O.E. and features a beat resembling the recent Justin Timberlake single "Sexyback".
In an interview published in August, he 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 next Duran Duran album, due in 2007, including one song featuring Justin Timberlake. Also in 2007, Timbaland will be producing songs for Bone Thugs upcoming new LP, Strength & Loyalty and 50 Cent's new album, Curtis, on Interscope records, as well as Ludacris, Missy Elliott, Whitney Houston, Eve, Marcia Ambrosius of Floetry, Chili of TLC, Madonna, Sisqo, Rihanna, Chris Brown and Bobby Valentino. Surprisingly, Timbaland has invited help from outside of the US industry and called upon Quang Chou from the label chou*star to co-produce many tracks and work along side him. chou*star is a label currently based in the UK soon to venture with Timbaland.
Timbaland and Madonna are working together on her new album due in late 2007. He is also working with Rockstar Games to produce Beaterator, a music mixing game for the PlayStation Portable to be released in the Summer of 2007.
In April 2007, he appeared on WWE programming in segments with several WWE Divas. In late April, he filmed a music video for the song "Throw It On Me," starring Ashley Massaro, Kelly Kelly, Brooke, Torrie Wilson, Layla El, and Maryse.
Most recently, Timbaland produced three tracks on Rihanna's album Good Girl Gone Bad, including "Rehab," which was co-written with Justin Timberlake.
In early 2007, there was controversy surrounding Timbaland because of allegations of plagarism that surfaced concerning his work on the Nelly Furtado track "Do It". He is alleged to have plagiarized several elements (both motifs and samples) in the song without giving credit or compensation. A video comparing original composer Janne Suni's track to Timbaland and Furtado's is available on YouTube.
The claimed original track, entitled "Acidjazzed Evening", is a chiptune-style 4-channel Amiga module composed by Finnish demoscener Janne Suni (a.k.a. Tempest). The song won first place in the Oldskool Music competition at Assembly 2000, a demoparty held in Helsinki, Finland in the year 2000. According to Scene.org, the song was uploaded to their servers the same year, long before the release of the song by Furtado. The song was later remixed (with Suni's permission) by Norwegian Glenn Rune Gallefoss (a.k.a. GRG) for the Commodore 64 in SID format - this is the version which was later allegedly sampled for "Do It". It was added to the High Voltage SID Collection on December 21, 2002.
A video which claims to show proof of the theft was posted to YouTube on January 12, 2007. Another video was posted to YouTube on January 14, 2007, claiming Timbaland also stole the tune a year earlier for the ringtone Block Party, one of several that were sold in the United States in 2005. A YouTube video comparing all the related songs was posted in February 13.
On April 1, the track for "Do It" (without vocals) was used as theme music for the 2007 Juno Awards broadcast, which Furtado hosted. The track was played during the show's opening and before commercial breaks. The controversial samples could be clearly heard throughout.
Timbaland has called the issue "ridiculous" but also says he is "in legal discussions" and therefore can't say much about it.
Recently, a rivalry has flared up between Timbaland and famed 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 trashtalkers on his new album Timbaland Presents 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.. The story behind the title is that Scott Storch uses a piano to make his beats. In the song D.O.E. disses Storch for taking Dr. Dre's and Timbaland's style and attacks his street credibility rapping, "Why you actin like you built for this? Fuckin bitch, man you hang with Paris Hilton's clique". He also attacks Storch rapping "Beyoncé straight dissed you, Dre dismissed you, heard Lil' Kim say you got little dick issues" and for calling Timbaland a nigga in the end of "Built Like That". He attacks NOX for being a reggaeton artist and doing a song with MC Hammer.
Ms. Jade, a former Beat Club artist, took it upon herself to release a record aimed at Storch. In "Built Like That", Storch stated that "Everything signed to Beat Club was wack" and told Timbaland "You dont know how to pick talent". Her "diss" record (record explicitly aimed at insulting a rival) entitled "Beam U Up", discussed Storch's allegations of being "a homo", his addiction to cocaine and viagra, and how Storch bought rap star Lil' Kim a Bentley GT, which she could easily afford, and she dumped him shortly afterwards. Ms. Jade also threatened to "break his piano fingers" and she claimed she would "make it hard for him to come to Philly".
Attitude, another former Beat Club artist, also released a song aimed at Storch & Nox titled "Wouldn't Get Far".
NOX then replied to D.O.E. with the song "1st Degree Murder" dissing him and Timbaland.