Available on: Blackground / Mosley Music LP

One of the biggest hip-hop artists to come out of Virginia Beach – other residents include the Neptunes and Missy Elliot – Timbaland made his name in the mid to late 90s producing R’n’B for Jodeci, Ginuwine and more obviously, his frequent collaborators Aaliyah and the aforementioned Elliot.

After spending the majority of this decade as arguably both hip-hop and pop music’s most recognized producer – by 2007, he’d crafted hits for Jay-Z, Nelly Furtado, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake – Timbaland released his biggest artist album, the occasionally revelatory Shock Value which featured ubiquitous singles ‘The Way I Are’ and ‘Apologize’. Shock Value II, Timbaland’s third solo album, attempts to pick up where that left off, three years down the line.

Like its predecessor, the aim of Shock Value II is to combine Timbo-stamped R’n’B/hip-hop beats with pop vocals to create a best of both worlds, featuring a huge host of collaborators that ranges from unexpected names like Katy Perry, The Fray, The Disney Channel’s Miley Cyrus and Nickelback front-man Chad Kroeger to hip-hop man of the moment Drake. Unfortunately, but predictably, Timberland’s productions still only sound at home on tracks featuring those he’s familiar with: Furtado, Timberlake and modern R’n’B queen Keri Hilson, and these are the record’s highlights.

There’s no doubt Timbaland is still one of the best producers around, and behind the boards there’s little to fault him on here – yes, there’s excessive use of AutoTune, but it works well, particularly on the Timberlake-featuring ‘Carry On’ and ‘Say Something’ with Drake. As ‘Ayo Technology’ proved, he’s got no qualms with combining his key-heavy hip-hop with pounding basslines, and is happy to go heavy on the 808s and hi-hats. What lets Shock Value II down is Timbaland’s judgement: some of the guest features speak for themselves, and the times he exercises his vocals prove again that he should stick to the mixing desk and lay off the mic.

Like many musicians at his level of recognition, Timbaland’s reached the point of his career where he needs a good friend to usurp the yes men, sit him down and make him listen to his collaborations with Aayliah, Jay-Z et al, and realise that it wasn’t the production alone that made them so iconic; likewise, it wasn’t wide-reaching, more ‘musical’ collaborators with people like Elton John that made his name.

Oh, and bring back Magoo, you two were like the dream team.

Zainab Jama



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