Beat Drop: Timbaland.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words — I can work with that. That should mean that instead of writing an extensive introduction about our latest Beat Drop honoree, one Timothy Mosley, I can simply show a picture and be good. And for that picture, I ask you to pause the below video at 1:52.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kIJAVF0Jl0[/youtube]

As you may have guessed, and likely seen before, that was Timbaland and Jay-Z, from the concert-mentary Fade To Black, taking the first step in the process of crafting “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. After hearing a couple of beats that he appeared to be none too fond of (one of which ended up as “The Potion” on Ludacris’ The Red Light District), Jay hears the beat that would become “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and makes the face that should be looking right back at you on your screen… that is, if you paused the YouTube video, like I asked you to do.

That screwface-invoking reaction is the trademark of a Timbaland production. Most great hip hop beats will have you nodding your head as soon as it drops, but, when Timbo provides his magic touch, the head-nodding comes after a brief delay of a few seconds — a moment in time where everything else stops, confusion ensues, and a grown man dancing around with a banana (no Peanut Butter Jelly Time) in his hand is commonplace.

Does that make Timbaland “the best there is”, as he so eloquently puts it toward the end of that clip? If you’ve been following these Beat Drop posts, you’d know how hesitant we are to crown someone at the expense of others. But when it comes to pushing the envelope with production (and not just hip-hop production), Timbo may have a case for the throne. And since he’s lost all that weight since Fade To Black, the crown wouldn’t have to be fitted over that pack of hot dogs on the back of his neck.

Joining us for this Beat Drop are…

Download: Aaliyah – “One In A Million” (off One In A Million, 1996)

$port: Not exactly hip hop, I know. But many of us will agree that Timbo did his best work with his R&B joints. I can say the following without blinking — Timbaland singlehandedly changed R&B music with this one song. I remember when I first heard the track — it was a big “WTF??!” The rhythm was so all over the place, yet Aaliyah came through and smoothed it out. You could be the most gangsta gangsta in the history of gangstadom, but when you hear that first kick, all glocks down.

Download: Aaliyah – “Hot Like Fire (Timbaland’s Groove Mix)” featuring Missy Elliott (original version off One In A Million)

DJ Franchise: Not a hip hop song, but definitely one of Timbaland’s classics. He flipped the song to a dope dance beat with a little “Tom’s Diner” chant for some flavor. I could’ve done without Missy on the track, but back then her and Tim were inseparable. I remember being in college and so mad that this remix was not getting as much play as it should’ve. Plus, the video was one that should be a cult classic on YouTube.

Download: Ginuwine – “Pony” (off Ginuwine… The Bachelor, 1996)

Steve: WTF did he sample for this track?! From early on in Timbaland’s mainstream career, he was able to make hits and did so with a unique style. This beat is still hot over a decade later and it acts as an ongoing testament to its relevance.

Download: Ginuwine – “I’ll Do Anything/I’m Sorry” (off Ginuwine… The Bachelor)

Don Will: I picked this because I didn’t discover the sample to the song until long after I heard the song. One day, a few years ago, I went on a Stevie back catalog binge and I ended up hearing the sampled portion and that kinda blew my mind for some reason. It wasn’t like he did some amazing shit to the sample — he just kinda embellished upon it with his signature stutter percussion, but it’s just something magic about it.

Download: Missy Elliott – “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” (off Supa Dupa Fly, 1997)

Small Pro: No Timbaland list could be complete and not mention Missy, his long-time collaborator and fellow rhythm alien. This may be a cliche pick, but it still is one of my favorites… this, perhaps more than any other Timbo beat, illustrates how sharp and distinctive his ear was — who else could have picked this portion of the Ann Peebles original out to use in the first place? Who else could have flipped it to bounce like this? I remember bugging out like Missy’s eyes in the video when I heard the sample for the first time. When it dropped, there was nothing out that even remotely similiar, and that in a nutshell is why I am and will always be a Timbaland fan — the ear for samples, the distinctive sense of rhythm, the mastery over all things “bounce”, and, above all, the guts to do things differently. We need more Timbalands in the game. Word.

DJ Franchise: I think this was my first introduction to Timbaland’s genius — the simple beat, crazy synths, and signature bug sounds. I just kept asking myself while this song is on repeat — “Where did he get those sounds?” As much as the video gets props for its innovation, I think we forget that without a futuristic beat, there would be no inspiration for the Hype Williams video. Just my opinion.

Download: Timbaland & Magoo – “Up Jumps Da Boogie” featuring Missy Elliott and Aaliyah (off Welcome To Our World, 1997)

Jabari: Although Tim’s work now is great, I was a huge fan of the stuff in the late 90′s. I remember a time when I used to say the hottest rappers in the game were Timbaland & Magoo — I was young)! With that being said, “Up Jumps Da Boogie” was a crazy record. The way Missy, Timbaland, Magoo and Aaliyah all fit on the record was Tim doing what a great producer is supposed to do — making each artist sound as good as they possibly can.

Download: Timbaland & Magoo – “Clock Strikes” (off Welcome To Our World)

Eric: Flipped the fuck out of the Knight Rider theme. Some of the Timbaland’s best beats were also some of his worst songs. This is no exception. “Yo I’m ’bout to get it started like I’m Hammer then I farted/ You retarded if you thinkin’ Brandy really broken hearted/ I departed doin’ dirt lookin’ up your girl’s skirt/ Keep it Steve Martin style, bustin’ loose like jerk” — Magoo… I’m convinced any MC in existence would sound dope over this, and, in the end, isn’t that what a good beat is all about?

Download: Aaliyah – “Are You That Somebody?” (off Dr. Dolittle OST, 1998)

Clinton: This song was so innovative with its double-timed beat, along with Timbaland’s now-signature beat boxing.

$port: Again, this joint changed everything and couldn’t be duplicated by ANYONE. When this came out, I was in junior high. I was on my hoop star shit tough. Imagine a small gym filled to the brim with kids stomping and clapping the drums of this track all in unison.

Eric: I’m pretty sure this was the only reason anyone (including myself) purchased the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack (I was 14, don’t judge me). Timmy bodied Aaliyah’s essence on this track. The cooing baby (how random) was just subtle enough, but made the song everything it was. No matter what you felt about Tim’s rhymes, his verse on this just fit so perfectly. “I’m the man from the big V-A/ Won’t you come play ’round my way”. R.I.P. “baby girl”.

Don Will: I picked this joint for all the random ass noises Tim turned into percussive elements. I mean, it’s kinda hard to just overlook the song writing because that’s what pushes this joint over the edge, but the guy has babies and tongue popping noises in the track and before you can isolate or even know what’s goin’ on, you are rockin’ to ‘em just like they are guitars or keyboards. That’s pretty damn genius if you ask me. Not to mention baby girl was FOINE in that video.

Jabari: The first song that comes to mind when you talk about beats by Timbo is “Are You That Somebody?” Aside from me being a sucker for pop hits, this song was so creative! The dude used a baby’s voice cooing in the hook for crying out loud! The record is timeless, and this is just some of the magic that Tim created with the late Aaliyah, but I think it was some of their best work.

Download: Jay-Z – “Nigga What, Nigga Who” featuring Jaz-O and Amil (off Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, 1998)

Zilla Rocca: Tim had already melted the face of popular music with Missy in ’97 with his off-tempo weird-ass breakthrough beats on Supa Dupa Fly. A year later, he unearthed this double-time mammoth for Jay’s Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, arguably the most jaw-dropping production on an album stacked with heavy hitters behind the boards. Spacious enough for Hov to shine, but technically unmatched by anything in ’98, this song (along with Biggie’s “Notorious Thugs”) made me sit back and marvel at the ability of two East Coast MCs to spit it at a hundred miles an hour and sound great doing so. Another thing I loved about this track was the video — the colors and laser lights looked like how this beat sounded. This dropped during the height of underground movement, but nothing was as next-level and progressive as a Timbaland beat and a song about no one fucking with Jay-to-the-Z.

Small Pro: My Jay-Z bias is so obvious with my picks, but fuck it though. This may be a cliche pick, but it’s a Timbaland beat that for some reason stands above a lot in his discography. It’s empty one second, and then for exactly one count you are bombarded with a flurry of stuttering hi-hats, giving the track a herky-jerky momentum. Even in 2009, it sounds futuristic and robotic, and it’s a style that is wholly unique to Timbaland. Dude’s a one in a million.

Download: Timbaland – “Lobster & Scrimp” featuring Jay-Z (off Tim’s Bio: Life From Da Bassment, 1998)

Wes: This track drips with that perfect level of cockiness and self-assurance and it’s matched by the lyrics (“I hope she likes porno flicks ’cause she’s starring now”). A modern classic.

Download: Timbaland – “Keep It Real” featuring Ginuwine (off Tim’s Bio: Life From Da Bassment)

Clinton: An overlooked record off Timbaland’s album. This was a record that to this day musically still sticks in my brain.

Download: Missy Elliott – “Dangerous Mouths” featuring Redman (off Da Real World, 1999)

$port: What Timbaland managed to do with Missy’s Da Real World album was comical. He saw everybody taking pieces from what he was putting out, then BOOM — all new sounds, new drum patterns and that ONE snare that he instantly made his own. Because of his pop chart dominance, Tim doesn’t really get enough credit for the canvases he’s created for some of the best emcees. Case and point, “Dangerous Mouths” — the beat was prime for Funk Doc. It sounded like you were walking in a lava pit somewhere.

Download: Jay-Z – “It’s Hot (Some Like It Hot)” (off Vol. 3… Life And Times Of S. Carter, 1999)

Small Pro: On this track, you have Timbo freaking the living shit out of a 4-bar loop featuring two guitar notes and claps on the off beats. Quiet as kept, dude is (or at least was) one of the slickest dudes with a sample, because he makes it HIS… this time, he added guitar chords for a couple bars before the hook (the same melody from the dramatic ass intro). It’s funny because I remember reading in Scratch magazine (R.I.P.) about how he doesn’t really like to sample… we don’t believe you, Timothy.

Nex Millen: When I first heard “It’s Hot”, I didn’t think of Timbaland until I checked the credits. It’s built around a slowed down 3-pluck guitar sample no longer than a second. Drums, claps and strings — very simple. Jigga has all this room to create a motion picture with his lyrics — even throws a 50 Cent diss in for extra measure. It gets no iller!

Clinton: With the dramatic intro, you didn’t know what to expect the first time you heard this, and then it drops in with a laid back, undeniable head-nodding beat and a constant clap to add to its awesomeness.

Download: Jay-Z – “Big Pimpin’” featuring UGK (off Vol. 3… Life And Times Of S. Carter)

Steve: For any loop digger, this track is a feat of loop digging patience and persistence. It samples a track called “Khosara” by Abdel Halim Hafez, a classical musician from the sub-continent. Timbo heard this and created “Big Pimpin’”.

Clinton: Another original beat with a sample that not anyone would have thought to use and flip the way he did… genius.

Knobbz: The ubiquity of the word “pimp” today is due in part to this song and “P.I.M.P.” by 50 Cent, the latter of which is a cheap imitation of the former. The appeal of “Big Pimpin’” is that it has a lavish, travel-the-world-and-get-down-with-exotic-women sound rather than the perms, canes and Cadillacs vibe traditionally associated with with pimps. Timbo’s brand of pimping bears a Middle Eastern melody, a thumping club-ready bass and a hook that everybody in the car can sing after they hear it once. The end product is radio-friendly, accessible pimping, but still has monster verses from Jay-Z, Bun B and Pimp C. Jay’s flow tops everything he’s done since and Bun and Pimp give all the people hearing them for the first time something worth remembering. Also, the sheer amount of voluptuous half-naked women in the video snatched me out of my prepubescence. (See also: Jay and Bun performing “Big Pimpin’” in Houston and the whole crowd doing Pimp C’s verse.)

Ivan: Yet another Timbo beat which sampled Eastern music, “Big Pimpin’” incorporated elements from Abdel Halim Hafez’s “Khosara”. The exuberant array of instruments that were integrated into this track accentuated the lavish content, both lyrically and visually (the Hype Williams-directed music video is a must-see). A massive success, “Big Pimpin’” introduced droves of hip hop fans to UGK and video vixens like Melyssa Ford and Gloria Velez. The single went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Eric: It doesn’t matter which side of the country you’re on — when “Big Pimpin’” comes on, the party has officially begun. The video gave us classic Hype, Gloria Velez, Trinidad, the height of Roca Wear, and introduced UGK to the suburbs. How amusing was it that BET blocked out “MTV Jam of the Week”? (P.S. Am I the only who did the Dame Dash dance in the club?)

DJ Franchise: Everything about this combo on paper made me say “WTF?”.  UGK? (This was before it was cool to like them.  C’mon, only the South knew about them before this song.) A belly dance/Middle Eastern song was the main sample? Jay’s rapping about pimpin’? In the end, it all came together for the best Jay/Timbaland collaboration. An anthem from the hood to the white boy fraternities, this song put Jay-Z and Timbaland on a whole other echelon. Again, Jay with a knack for choosing risk-taking beats and Timbaland with the creativity to provide the soundscape.

Jabari: “Big Pimpin’” is one of those records where you don’t really have to say much about it. The way that record comes on, it sounds like you are in some type of grand celebration or something and then Jay comes in with the most vulgar wordplay of how he does not need a women. Classic hip hop.

Download: Jay-Z – “Come And Get Me” (off Vol. 3… Life And Times Of S. Carter)

Wes: Experimental futuristic funk trip and easily the weirdest thing to have been released on a Jay-Z album. Great two-parter beat.

$port: Easily Timbaland’s most gutter track ever. The first beat was silly enough as it was, with that crude-ass high-hat. The second beat??? SMH. It was amazing in the fact that it really coincided with Hov’s subject matter. Timbaland has a knack for making you feel like you’re traveling with the beat itself and on this one, he took it straight to Marcy.

Don Will: 2-for-1 style on that ass! The joint comes out the gate with this plodding backwater-sounding gangster-ass intro that bleeds into an even more sinister-sounding composition. The thing that pushes this beat over the top for me is the chord progressions that take place. From verse to verse, other elements weave throughout the beat and that makes this one hard to only play once.

Download: The LOX – “Ride Or Die Bitch” featuring Eve (off We Are The Streets, 2000)

Knobbz: Hardbody as they may be, the LOX know how to make songs for the radio without completely selling out. This is what pop-rap should sound like. Two-steppable, but vulgar enough to make my parents disown me. Great video to boot. Timbaland is great at this warm, bouncy sound. It’s clean-cut like champagne-era Bad Boy and extra clubby-poppy on some Neptunes ish. This song is number three on my wedding night playlist.

Download: Aaliyah – “Try Again” (off Romeo Must Die OST, 2000)

Zilla Rocca: This is my favorite Timbaland beat of all time, just for the shakers alone. “Tsst tsst tsst tsst tsst tsst” — it’s so distinct and tight. My common problem with most mainstream production is that it lacks swing, but this track is a neck breaker. The arrangement is incredible. The revolving door of simple synth stabs (an owl hooting underwater, Tritons presets to make Swizz Beatz pass out, rolling Moog notes that were just filthy) keep the track interesting without cluttering Aaliyah’s quaint vocals. It was like what the Bobby Digital sound could’ve been if he wasn’t smoking honey-dipped blunts and hanging out with 9th Prince.

Ivan: As if it wasn’t enough that the late, lovely Aaliyah was laying down some aphrodisiac rhymes and vibes, this beat right here oozed with sex appeal. The main layer of the track itself always distinctly reminded me of the syrupy sound of nylon rubbing together. The combination of Aaliyah’s seductive vocals and Timbo’s addictive production propelled “Try Again” to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 — the very first song to reach the #1 spot based solely on radio play.

Download: Jay-Z – “Hey Papi” featuring Memphis Bleek and Amil (off Nutty Professor II: The Klumps OST, 2000)

Wes: Jay-Z and Timbaland are a near equal pairing to Nas and DJ Premier. Timbo brings out the thoughtful thug that Jigga wouldn’t fully reveal until Kingdom Come.

Nex Millen: Two words — the sickness. When this first came out, I already knew that Timbo was the illest producer of my era, but damn! The drums on this one, that guitar sample, all the layers — bangin’! Just when you think you have his style all figured out, he comes with a new sound. (Word on the street is that the original version has a 3rd verse by Jay, but the label had to cut it for time reasons.)

Download: Snoop Dogg – “Set It Off” featuring MC Ren, Lady Of Rage, Nate Dogg and Ice Cube (off Tha Last Meal, 2000)

Ivan: The very first time I heard this song was on the third volume of the And1 Mixtape series, back in 2001. Hoops and hip hop have always seemed to go hand-in-hand, and this track right here had just enough bounce to keep my neck swaying back and forth like the soaring basketball across the screen. In order to accommodate all these West Coast legends, Timbo had to hustle to compose some congruent production. Let’s just say it was a slam dunk.

Download: Memphis Bleek – “Is That Yo Chick?” featuring Jay-Z, Twista and Missy Elliott (off The Understanding, 2000)

DJ Franchise: Jay is known for being a great lyricist, but I’ve always like to make sure that he gets credit for being a risk-taker with his beat selection. And I think, much like his joints with the Neptunes, Timbaland pushes Jay to a new level with his flow because of the beat. “Is That Your Chick?” does just that. The intensity and bounce of the beat go back to his early rap years, before the deal, where he went with his fast flow — so fast that I think that people lost the daggers he was throwing. The beat is so dope that he has the strong horns on the chorus, then the cowbell on the extra verses, then Timbo manipulates that reverse sound at the end of the song. So many layers of sound, you would think it was a Bomb Squad joint.

Download: Aaliyah – “We Need A Resolution” (off Aaliyah, 2001)

Zilla Rocca: In the ’90s, I wasn’t big on R&B outside of a few acts here and there (D’Angelo, Shai, Portrait, Jodeci), but Aaliyah grabbed me by the throat. Beautiful, classy, intriguing and subdued, she looked like she always knew something you didn’t. And the beats Timbaland made for her would never sound right with anyone else cooing over them. “We Need A Resolution” has an orchestral sample (I want to say clarinet) that snakes around the patented Timbo beat-boxing, shifting synth lines, and double hand claps. The feeling of the track fit Aaliyah perfectly — sublime but banging, contained but infectious. After she passed, it seemed like Tweet got the left-overs from the Aaliyah disks but never did the beats any justice. “We Need A Resolution” is just butter.

$port: We all know that Aaliyah got first dibs on the crazy stuff. This was a perfect way to reacquaint us with Baby Girl. It was as if he molded beats after her. One of the most fun things about a Timbo beat is the fact that he’ll go in the booth, beatbox… and keep it. Before you know it, you’re doing the exact same thing.

Eric: Right from the start, it has that recognizable sound. This is the true timeless nature that Tim has given us over and over again. He hasn’t achieved anything near this brilliant in a long time (in my opinion).

Download: Aaliyah – “More Than A Woman” (off Aaliyah)

Wes: One of the best pop gems Timbo crafted. Fluid like water, synths going crazy.

Ivan: This track doesn’t profile Timbaland’s production skills any more so than it highlights his crate-digging tendencies. “More Than a Woman” heavily sampled Syrian singer Mayada El Hennawy’s melodic “Alouli Ansa”, but unfortunately, the song was never officially credited. Oops! There you go again, Tim! Regardless of this legal fiasco, the beat always had me mesmerized with its oscillating synths and overall catchiness.

Download: Jay-Z – “Hola Hovito” (off The Blueprint, 2001)

Nex Millen: By the time this joint came out, I stopped wondering why Tim was giving his best hip hop beats to Jay-Z. From the intro to the end, this is my favorite Timbaland song of all time. Just like “Hey Papi”, the ;ayers don’t stop. Just when you think you heard all the sounds, he brings in another, then another. Super big!

Download: Timbaland & Magoo – “Drop” featuring Fatman Scoop (off Indecent Proposal, 2001)

Eric: One of the most energetic songs he’s ever made. The temperature seems to rise when this record is dropped (pun intended). I remember being in the club as a youngin’ and seeing females do a lot of strange things when this came blaring over the speakers.

Download: Pastor Troy – “Are We Cuttin’” featuring Ms. Jade (off Universal Soldier, 2002)

Don Will: I feel like this joint doesn’t get enough love at all. It’s so frenetic. It has this energy to it that sounds like motion. It literally sounds like people dancing. I wasn’t in college around the time this dropped but I can only imagine how many drumlines ended up playin’ this during halftime.

Download: Missy Elliott – “Work It” (off Under Construction, 2002)

AaronM: I feel as if I’ve sacrificed my digger credentials by only picking singles, but fuck it, Timbaland’s singles are THAT good. Tim combines an undulating synth line, what sounds like a theremin and blippy bongo percussion into a seamless, rhythmic groove. “Work It” artfully evokes ’80s hip hop with simply aping it — the Rockmaster Scott sampling into, the scratching at 3:25, and rock the “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” break for the last 20 seconds. Reagan-era cribbing rappers would be wise to take notes. Like any Tim production, it’s the small details that really strike you after the first listen; he uses an elephant’s trumpet to censor Missy on the chorus! Genius.

Download: Lil’ Kim – “The Jump Off” featuring Mr. Cheeks (off La Bella Mafia, 2003)

Nex Millen: This joint was made around the “drumline ” era. A lot of producers tried, but Tim was the only one to crank the BPMs up and make his joint go to town! Lil’ Kim is doing Lil’ Kim on this one and it’s hot (shout outs to Queen B), but the real treat is bringing Mr. Cheeks (of Lost Boyz) in to update the classic hook from “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz”. Crowd still goes crazy when I drop this.

Download: Bubba Sparxxx – “She Tried” featuring Ryan Tedder (off Deliverance, 2003)
Download: Bubba Sparxxx – “Deliverance” (off Deliverance)

Small Pro: On the real, if I could put the entire sophomore Bubba album on this list (or at least what Timbo did), I almost would… almost. Deliverance as a whole, and these two tracks in particular, exemplify Timbaland’s extraordinary ability to consistently maintain his signature sound and sense of rhythm and yet integrate elements that are foreign to both his style and hip hop (or R&B) in general. “She Tried” is one of those fast, yet slow, Timbo joints featuring melancholy violins and almost bluegrassy guitars (not to mention another one of his complimentary beatboxing routines that are unlike any heard anywhere else) and “Deliverance” is bluesy and soulful, featuring a triumphant string arrangement and handclaps in place of snares; both were made by a Timbaland not seen before or after… this is why he’s hot.

Download: Jay-Z – “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (off The Black Album, 2003)

Steve: “Bounce coming up,” said Timbo in his back-and-forth interaction with Jay-Z during the studio sessions. [See intro. — Buhizzle] As soon as Timbo hit the keys on his Triton, the energy was syndicated. This track oozes swag and I’m certain that this track helped solidified Jay-Z as the “best rapper alive” to those that didn’t already think so before.

Ivan: Together with Timbo’s plethora of awe-inspiring synthesizers and hotbox drums, Hov indulged pimps and the uninitiated alike to the swag-tastic tradition of brushing off one’s shoulders. Even President Obama caught on to the craze!

DJ Franchise: The song made it on the list just for Timbaland’s excitement for this joint when he showed he to Jay on Fade To Black. No doubt, it’s a bounce beat, but no one bounces like Timbo. Timbaland knows how to sell his songs to an artist.

Download: Missy Elliott – “Wake Up” featuring Jay-Z (off This Is Not A Test!, 2003)

Zilla Rocca: This beat sounded like Tim doing a cover of Primo’s “Come Clean”. The snare on this track could be a garbage disposal clogging up, or a jab from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, or the inside of an oil drum beaten with a 2×4. Tim never made a straight gutter track before — he’s had dark and ominous, but this track sounded like punishment. People never call up Tim for the grimy album cut, but if I ever get the chance to work with dude, I want a jawn like this as well as the “weirdo-ass-shaker-electro-Biz-Mark-meets-Bjork-club-banger” combo.

Download: Cee-Lo – “I’ll Be Around” featuring Timbaland (off Cee-Lo Green… Is The Soul Machine, 2004)

AaronM: A brilliant combination of trumpets and clattering percussion for space age soul-type steez. Tim bring in celestial backing vocals on the chorus and adds a winding, Jerry Harrison-esque guitar figure that compliments the call-and-response. Tim even pulls a Pete Rock move and adds extra percussion for his (pretty lame) verse. “I’ll Be Around” summarizes Cee-Lo’s post-Goodie Mob career better than any of the Gnarls Barkley songs ever could.

Don Will: This song sounds like a slower, more soulful “The Jump Off” (Lil’ Kim) if you ask me, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d pick this one because it didn’t do NEARLY what it should have and I’m a fan of the underdogs. It’s a pretty simple song, but he knows how to pick the right elements to make an infectious song. I’m also a sucker for breakbeats and these songs are remeniscent of breakbeats. Tim does that from time to time — another example is Missy’s “Funky Fresh Dressed” or “Pass That Dutch”… damn, Missy had some HITS!

Download: The Game – “Put You On The Game” (off The Documentary, 2005)

Zilla Rocca: This beat truthfully should’ve went to Busta. No disrespect to The Game, but I’ve listened to this instrumental tenfold and his vocal performance is incomparable to the beast that Tim gave birth to. It sounds so BIG — the massive kicks and snares, the frantic chords, the trippy vocal stab on the hook (what the hell sound IS THAT?). This beat begged for a larger-than-life vocal performance. My favorite part of this beat is the outro where Tim goes tech-happy and freaks with the automation panel on his computer — if more glitch hop/IDM had this umph behind it, I wouldn’t be downloading free mixtapes from my inbox each week. Royksopp and whoever — YOU’RE ON NOTICE!

AaronM: For anyone who says Timbaland doesn’t make good hip hop beats, here’s my definitive counter-argument. First, the percussion — booming kicks, shakers and skipping claps. The central beat orbits around a four-note keyboard sequence, coupled with elegaic piano and female backing vocals. Tim pitches a vocal sample so it sounds like a synthesizer and loops it endlessly. Considering the name of this feature, I would be remiss to omit the beat drop at 2:24, where Tim strips the instrumental to the wailing vocal sample and ghostly backing vocals. How did he get the sample to sound like that? The Game is serviceable, but one has to imagine that Jayceon is now a tad embarrassed by the shout-outs to G-Unit on this track.

Download: Busta Rhymes – “Get Down” (off The Big Bang, 2006)

Small Pro: This track probably wouldn’t be in a real top 5 Timbaland beat list from me, but I doubt anybody else will mention it. I remember when The Big Bang came out, there surfaced a video featuring Busta in the studio with Timbaland where Bus mentioned a beat Timbo made “out of a plastic cup and pencils”. Such beat inventiveness is further displayed on “Get Down”, which some message boarders described as “just drums”. Just drums!? Timbo has always thrown sounds not many would use in the mix, and here, you can hear frogs croaking and a bird squaking — on beat, nonetheless — as well as the sound of a swampy marsh. Combine that and thumping percussion, and you have another signature Timbo joint that doesn’t have many brothers or sisters.

Nex Millen: I am a big fan of African rhythms and this joint right here is off the chart. I haven’t heard anything like it yet. Busta is beyond himself — blacking out! Tim is in there with the well timed ad-libs — crazy! Only a few artists can rhyme on a Timbo beat and ace it. You can’t just spit and think it’s going to be a hit. His joints are alive! So you have to rhyme with it, not over it.

Download: Nelly Furtado – “Do It” (off Loose, 2006)

Wes: Best Madonna song that Madonna never released.

Download: Justin Timberlake – “SexyBack” (off FutureSex/LoveSounds, 2006)

Clinton: Once again, Timbo transforms himself into trendsetterbot leading the way for hip hop producers to start incorporating dance and house sounds into their production.

Download: Justin Timberlake – “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows Interlude” (off FutureSex/LoveSounds)

Jabari: I think Tim did a number with Justin Timberlake (with the help of Danja). My favorite record was “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows Interlude”. “LoveStoned” was an alright song, but I remember the first time I heard that song and then the beat switch… I wasn’t ready for it, but something about how smooth that transition sounded was so right. When “I Think She Knows” came on, I was thinking, damn, this is the joint you dance to with the girl at prom you really wanted to go with but couldn’t because her date is the basketball star and yours is your best friend. If Timberlake or Timbaland ever reads this — PLEASE TURN THAT INTO A WHOLE SONG! I know a lot of people who just skip to 4:42 when that record comes on their iTunes.

Download: Timbaland – “Oh Timbaland” (off Timbaland Presents Shock Value, 2007)

Steve: Taking Nina Simone’s “Oh Sinnerman” and cutting it to say “Oh Timbaland” isn’t hard to do, but it’s damn creative. The way the hi-hats fit on this track with the gritty piano sample is masterful (as most of Timbaland’s hats are) and, from a production standpoint, this track is just refreshing to listen to in a time of redundancy and mimicry.

Download: Timbaland – “Give It To Me” featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake (off Timbaland Presents Shock Value)

Steve: Timbo brought swagger to pop music with Justin Timberlake’s album. He continued that trend with Nelly Furtado and had all three artists on this track chest out and taking shots at anyone trying to step up. The fact that JT took shots at Prince should tell you how hard this beat was. Even Nelly Furtado sounded like she had some swag on the track, rebounding from a failed sophomore album. And of course, the piano man got dissed on it, too.

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There are 22 comments

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  1. $port

    Always a pleasure!! There’s always a name or two that makes me go ‘whoa!’…Clinton Sparks and Eric from Commonwealth (one of the best shops in the US, period). Nice touch, indeed.

  2. ScottieL

    hahaha, jay-z’s face is great. looks like someone let one rip in there and he just got a whiff.

  3. modi

    TRILL. very comprehensive. it’s funny how everybody feels differently about beats. “hey papi” is my favorite joint timbo’s ever made i think. because at the end, he teases you with a little snippet of greatness and lets it fade out…so you never can really fully appreciate it, but you know that he has much more to that song that he just wasn’t ready to unleash yet.

    or maybe i’m just thinking a lot.

  4. Trey Stone

    nice writeup, but…”3 A.M.” i know it’s more recent, and i know it’s Young Jeezy, but damn. if you wanna talk about Tim’s best “hard” beats and shut down anyone complaining he’s gone all ‘N Sync or whatever, that’s the go-to beat. not to say i don’t like his work with JT.

    dude really needs a creative renaissance right now though. that new Chris Cornell album he did? ack

  5. franchise

    good looking out. time to post it up at KTL! I like how how the majority of us commented “WTF? where did he get that sound?” on our posts. Timbo…

  6. P

    Yea good list… But in my mind “Put You On the Game” completely belongs to the Clipse after they destroyed it on We Got it 4 Cheap vol. 2.

  7. Rowdee

    When you lay this dude’s career out like this, he’s looking like Quincy Jones’ reincarnation. Timbo has brought hip-hop some of it’s most memorable, hard to shake moments ever…….and what’s even crazier about his skills is that he is comfortable in any genre……his tracks adapt to what is around him. His career is shaping up to be one for the hip hop firmament, with The Bomb Squad and Preemo and The Rza as his contemporaries……I can say “potential GOAT” and not feel bad about it in the least. Good job, fellas.

  8. MeGaVeLi

    Alot of good picks … I thought the beat for “My Love” by Timberlake was probably my fav beat of the year it dropped. Although I would have given credit to Danja Hands for that one!

  9. Aquaman

    I knew most of this beats, but it’s very nice to see another people’s vision on a beat you already like.
    Classic, as most Beat Drops are…

  10. newmi

    Great beat drop and as always not everything could make the cut but I was sure Get Your Freak On would. Oh well, keep up the good work guys.

  11. MD Graves

    Yo, I’ve been checking out all your beat drops man and they’re sick as fuck. Really interesting stuff man, good work!

  12. Nathan

    Mad props on the site. Reading the write ups took me back through my junior high and high school days. The Ginuwine “I’ll be sorry” reminds me of DJ Cam.

  13. Goon Gas

    I’m out by a good minute, but I Thought I’d my zero Sense. How ’bout Luda’s intro to the Red light district, (which The Re-up gang also demolished), or the Maneater remix ft. Lil Wayne & I would’nt mind the instros to “Is that your Bitch” & “3 am”

  14. anthony

    good list but theres some bangers missing. Why isnt Missy sock it to me here??? Jadkiss and Bubba Sparx they aint ready?? Missy- cop that shit?Lloy Banks- So Fly??? Tim and Magoo- Luv 2 Luv you? CMON SON!!!


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