Birth and Early Career of Timbaland:
Timbaland was born Timothy Z. Mosley in Norfolk, Virginia March 10, 1971. Growing up in Norfolk, Mosley became acquainted with future collaborators Missy Elliott and Melvin Barcliff, aka DJ Magoo. Timothy Mosley was also friends with Pharrell Williams. They work together in a group known as S.B.I. (Surrounded By Idiots).
Timothy Mosley, Missy Elliott, and Magoo auditioned for Jodeci member Devante Swing in the early 1990's. The trio were signed to Devante's Swing Mob label. Timothy Mosley was dubbed Timbaland in reference to popular Timberland boots. Timbaland met and began collaborating with fellow Swing Mob member Ginuwine, an r&b solo singer.
Quote from Timbaland:
Referring to his success as a producer in an interview with Wire:
"I'm 'a try this recipe, see how my cake came out. This beatmaking is a God given talent. I thank God for everything. Ain't nothing I planned."
Timbaland and Missy Elliott Work With Aaliyah:
Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Magoo, and Ginuwine all left Swing Mob in the mid-1990's. Timbaland produced Ginuwine's successful first album Ginuwine...the Bachelor in 1996, and the massive hit single "Pony" put the producer and artist on the map. R&B singer Aaliyah hired Timbaland and Missy Elliott to write and produce music for her second album One in a Million. It was another smash success for Timbaland.
Top Timbaland Production Credits:
- 1996 - Ginuwine - "Pony"
- 1997 - Missy Elliott - "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"
- 1998 - Aaliyah - "Are You That Somebody"
- 1999 - Jay-Z - "Big Pimpin'"
- 2000 - Aaliyah - "Try Again"
- 2001 - Missy Elliott - "Get Ur Freak On"
- 2002 - Justin Timberlake - "Cry Me a River" (co-produced with Scott Storch)
- 2004 - LL Cool J - "Headsprung"
- 2006 - Nelly Furtado - "Promiscuous" and "Maneater"
- 2006 - Justin Timberlake - "SexyBack" and "My Love"
Timbaland as Top Producer:
Timbaland's style of rejecting samples in favor of a sound layered with a variety of instruments and beats became one of the most distinctive in contemporary hip-hop and r&b. His work with Aaliyah on such classics as 1998's "Are You That Somebody" and 2000's "Try Again" took hip hop in idiosyncratic new directions. Timbaland brought Asian and Middle Eastern influences into his work with Jay-Z ("Big Pimpin'") and Missy Elliott ("Get Ur Freak On")
The Death of Aaliyah and Aftermath:
Aaliyah's death in 2001 in a tragic air accident was a major personal blow for Timbaland. He continued to work on new projects, but his output slowed somewhat. One key project, a production collaboration with Scott Storch, yielded the instant classic "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake.
Trivia Fact About Timbaland:
Timbaland's favorite rock producer is Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor.
Career Resurgence for Timbaland:
Two album projects have led to Timbaland's re-emergence as one of the hottest music producers in the business. His production and songwriting along with efforts from protege Danja Hills helped turn Nelly Furtado's Loose album into a smash hit. The singles "Maneater" and "Promiscuous" topped the pop singles charts in the UK and US respectively.
Near the end of the summer of 2006 Justin Timberlake released his second solo album FutureSex / LoveSounds featuring work from Timbaland on all but one track. "SexyBack", the first single from the album, became Timbaland's second #1 hit single in the US in the space of 3 months.