Thursday, April 05, 2007

Shock Value - Timbaland

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Is there any real need for a new Timbaland "solo" record? I mean at times it seems as if every other video on the music channels includes the man in question and not content with working with the likes of the Pussycat Dolls, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado he's not only doing a WWE tie-in (what monstrosity will that result in?) but is also working on some tracks for the new Duran Duran album.

Indeed as the man himself says on the addictive lead single Give It To Me (which features Timberlake and Furtado) "'I get half a mill for my beats" (a dig at fellow producer Scott Storch by all accounts) so it's hardly as if he needs the money is it?

Of course upon closer inspection this barely qualifies as a "solo" record in the true sense. All in all, out of 19, yes 19, tracks just ONE is even classed as Timbaland on his own; the other 18 are all presented in a cavalcade of "featuring's" and "and's" with the likes of Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Nicole Scherzinger, The Hives and Elton John all dropping by to lend a hand.

Which all goes to show that in reality this is nothing more than an extension of his producing work, albeit one underpinned by his desire to be the star of his own show for once.

Firstly, at 19 tracks this is at least 7 tracks too long. You could argue it's value for money but there are tracks on here that most people will listen to once and then never again. In fact in these days of MP3 players its probable that some of the tracks wont be making it onto anyone's I-pod play list. But such is the nature of the beast these days.

As you would expect though, when Timbaland gets it right he nails it full on. The aforementioned single Give It To Me is a case in point. It's addictive and catchy enough as it is, but towards the end the shift of the chorus to the off-beat makes for a memorable effect and reminds us just what a great producer the man can be.

It's not the only highlight either by any means. Another Justin Timberlake track Release is a great one (it might have helped to save Timberlake's last album from mediocrity) and two tracks that feature Keri Hilson (a name which conjures up that Accrington Stanley milk advert for me to be honest), Way I Are and Scream (which also features Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls) are also delightfully crafted slices of urban pop which would no doubt set the charts alight.

Still as alluded to earlier there is far too much filler. Some guest spots plain don't work (Elton John, She Wants Revenge) whilst others seem pointless, if not altogether worthless (The Hives - was it really worth flying them in for their performance). Others are intriguing but fall flat (say hello to Fall Out Boy) and there are examples of big names phoning it in (Dr. Dre, Missy Elliot). The fact there is such an over-abundance of guests mean that the thrill factor isn't really there either.

It should also be recognised that for all his genius as a producer, Timbaland suffers from the same malady that effects Kanye West; he's just not that good a rapper. And then there are the lyrics, some of which are amongst the worst you'll ever hear laid down on record. To wit...

"...Bounce like your ass has the hiccups..."

"...I got a bungalow..." (a funny way for Dr.Dre to try and impress the ladies don't you think?)

"...Let me see them big titties..."

I could go on, but the preponderance of references to his own genius as a producer tend to grate after, ooh, the first listen as well. We get the idea Timbaland, you're a great producer.

At it's core though this could have been a rather good 10 or 11 track album. As it stands its faults outweigh it's good points. That said, anyone who's enjoyed his recent collaborations that have stormed the singles charts (and there must be a lot of you out there) will certainly find enough on here to keep you going. Overall though there's little to suggest that Timbaland will be giving up the day job as a result of super solo-stardom any time soon, and if these tracks had been relased over a two year period as album tracks on the special guests own projects he might have found a better overall response.

But then again maybe he's smarter than we think and he really is saving the best of his tunes for those people willing to pay him his "half a mill" a time.

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