Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Timbaland recreates himself....again, for Shock Value

Its been a while since Ginuwine’s Pony rode to the top of the charts in 1993, but since, Timbaland has become one of the most consistent, and creative producers in music…. period. His production credits read like a hip hop and R&B walk of fame, producing for almost every big name in the industry; all while molding the careers of Aaliyah, Missy, and his group Timbaland and Magoo. This is his first solo release since 1998’s Tim Bio, but his growth is obvious. Timbaland has always been a leader, blending his infectious beats and obscure sound effects with big name artists to make single after single. The same rang true for him in 2006, probably his most successful year ever, producing hits and entire albums for Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. These two albums started a frenzy, making Tim the most sought after producer of the year. This success was a direct reflection of Timbaland’s reputation, and the emergence of production apprentice “DanjaHandz”. Timbo is definitely the pied-piper of production, and with the help of Danja, now he has his own smash album with “Shock Value”
The album begins with a familiar piano sample (via Kanye & Kweli’s Get By) before dropping in with his signature kick drums and firing hi-hat of “Oh Timbaland” . Tim raps, “This aint tha Timbaland that youre used to/ now I’m in a whole ‘nother zone”, as a strummed acoustic and solo electric guitar intertwine. Tim is definitely in the Zone as next up is the mega smash “Give it to Me” featuring his 06 thoroughbreds Furtado and Timberlake. The vocal intro comes to an abrupt end followed by loose “promiscuous” drums and a five note melody. Even with over-exposure and the Scott Storch“beef, “Give it to Me” still stands as the most complete song on Shock Value. Timbaland revisits the formula of 06 success with “Release” and “The Way I Are”, as Danja’s simplistic synth lines and four to the floor drums bring back that late 80’s sound. Tim follows up with the menacing “Bounce”, a blend of low end frequencies, classic Timbo beat box, and a hyper hiccup sample. Its hard not to be blinded by the stars on this track, as Tim, Dr. Dre, Timberlake, and Missy all trade verses on this one. Although its great to hear Dre spit some pre-Detox rhymes, Missy steals the show. Tim keeps the big names coming with 50 cent and Tony Yayo on the early G-unit sounding , “Come and Get Me”. Its obvious Tim is still the king of beats, creating an album that’s commercially viable and experimental at the same time. The Shock stumbles with tracks like “Kill Yourself” and “Board meeting”, which lyrically only have a good hook between the two. Timbaland might have found that special lady, as songs like “Fantasy” and the Summer Love inspired ”Miscommunication” show the producers’ sensual side.
The standout love song is the guitar laced “Scream”, which feels like a horseback ride across the beach with a long breakdown. The album concludes with an array of far-fetched collaborations, including songs with Fall out Boy, The Hives, and One Republic to name a few. The hidden gem among these is “Time” featuring the band She Wants Revenge. As the echoing lead and rhythm guitars ride the minimal drum pattern, Timbo gives his best vocal performance of the album, blending somber raps with a melodic delivery. The album concludes with the Elton John collaboration, “2 man Show” that feels more like a one-take outro than a song. At album’s end, its easy to understand why Timbaland is one of the most innovative producers to date. There’s something on this album from everyone, from early Timbo heads like myself, to fans of his pop hits in 06. That being said, the drive from versatility leaves some songs with no personality, but those are definitely in the minority here.

Overall: 4

Production Value: 4.5
Timbo still presents a palette of sounds and grooves with Shock Value, despite the absence of his long-time engineer, Jimmy D.

Lyrics: 3
Impeccable raps were never Timbaland’s forte, but improvement is evident. The long list of guest appearances pick up the lyrical slack.

Replay Value: 4
With songs like “Give it to Me”, “Bounce”, and “Scream”, this album takes you from the pre-party, to the club, and eventually the bedroom.

Album Gems: "Time", "Scream", "Give it tome me"

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