REVOLT TV presents ‘The Produce Section,’ a column where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today, to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, ‘The Produce Section’ is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare and are front and center, however, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals, the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
With the passage of time, the producer has become more ubiquitous than ever, with the most successful boardsmen rivaling many of the artists they work with in terms of visibility and popularity. However, in many cases, the producer fails to get their just due or recognition for the vital role they play in helping keeping hip hop alive.
With more than two decades in hip hop on his resume, Timbaland is widely recognized as arguably the greatest producers of his generation, genre not withstanding. Born and bred in Virginia Beach, Timbaland made his bones at a time when being able to create hits for R&B and rap artists alike made you an invaluable commodity, with the producer crafting hits for a diverse cast of stars, most notably Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Ginuwine, JAY-Z and a host of others. Entering the new millennium with his spot as a super-producer solidified, Timbaland spent the subsequent decade expanding his brand even further by working with the biggest names in all of music, raising his stock to unprecedented levels.
Inching towards a quarter-century worth of classic singles and deep-cuts, Timbaland is considered a made-man within rap circles and is universally praised as one of the greatest producers to ever lay down a beat, making him hip hop royalty.
In our latest installment of “The Produce Section,” we celebrate Timbaland’s illustrious career and highlight 13 of his most iconic beats that define his excellence behind the boards.
1 | “Pony”
In August 1996, Timbaland shocked the world with this single from Ginuwine’s debut album, The Bachelor, marking the producer’s continued success within the realm of R&B. Using a mix of quirky sound effects and pairing them with kicks, snares and synths, Timbo crafted a soundbed unlike anything R&B fans had heard to that point, helping jumpstart Ginuwine’s career, as well as his own.
2 | “Sock It 2 Me”
Missy Elliott’s 1997 hit “The Rain” was the bigger cultural statement, but this backdrop from the rapstress’ debut album was the one that had emcees and listeners alike open upon its release. Built around thunderous horns and a thumping drum loop, this selection lifts elements from the Delfonics’ 1968 single “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love),” resulting in a boisterous composition that finds Missy and Timbo putting a galactic spin on hip hop soul.
3 | “Luv 2 Luv Ya”
In addition to making bangers for other artists, Timbaland also supplied himself with an ample of amount of infectious ditties, among them being this single from his and Magoo’s 1997 debut, Welcome to Our World. Sampling guitar riffs and tambourines from The J.B.’s’ “Givin’ Up Food for Funk,” Timbaland incorporates those elements around rollicking kicks and snares, concocting a production that still induces head-bops and makes body moves to this day.
4 | “Are You That Somebody?”
Picking up where they left off on her 1996 debut One in a Million, Timbaland and Aaliyah teamed up in 1998 for this single from the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack and a track that saw the Virginia native add to his legend. Pilfering a guitar lick from The Meters’ 1974 cut “People Say,” Timbaland outdid himself by littering the track with a vocal sample of a giggling baby and throwing a kitchen’s sink worth of sounds into this infectious composition.
5 | “Big Pimpin’”
Being a representative of the South himself, it was only right that Timbaland provide the beat for this game-changer of a record, which helped bridge the gap between the East Coast and Southern rap scenes. Interpolating multiple elements from Hossam Ramzy’s “Khusara Khusara,” Timbo gave JAY-Z and UGK a hell of an alley-oop with this record, which remains unforgettable decades after it first beckoned party-goers to the dance floor.
6 | “Hot Boyz”
For Missy Elliott‘s sophomore album, Da Real World, Timbaland crafted one of the biggest street bangers of his career with this beat, which topped the rap charts in 1999 and achieved platinum status. With enough percussion to shake the block up, this instrumental is one of the more straightforward productions in Timbaland’s catalog and devoid of the quirky wrinkles his tracks are known for, but stands as one of his most potent joints, nonetheless.
7 | “Ryde or Die, Bitch”
Timbaland does work with a mandolin, drums and other sound effects on this standout offering from The LOX’s sophomore album, We Are the Streets, and Ruff Ryders’ debut. Infusing everything from whistles to cop sirens to complement the track, Timbaland gifts the Yonkers trio with a sure-fire hit, which doubles as one of the sleepers in his stash of heaters.
8 | “Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)”
With nearly two decades worth of collaborations under their belt, Timbaland and JAY-Z have become synonymous with one another, but the pair’s working relationship kicked off in 1999 when Timbo supplied the backdrop to this Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter single. Dipping from his own well, Timbaland samples elements from Playa’s 1998 release “Cheers 2 U,” as well as the bass from Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1975 hit “Sunshine,” reworking both to assemble a beat that showcased Hov’s intricate flow like none before it.
9 | “Hola Hovito”
“I can’t be stopped with a knock like this,” JAY-Z proclaims during the opening of this deep cut from his The Blueprint album, praising Timbaland for gifting him with a backdrop that rates high on the Richter Scale of rap productions. Pairing guitar licks and other wrinkles with drums looted from rock band Gypsy’s 1973 release “Don’t Get Mad (Get Even),” Timbaland may have dozens of tracks that translated into greater commercial success, however, this selection is as epic as any, pound-for-pound, and is on the high-end of collaborations between him and Hov.
10 | “Put You On The Game”
Timbaland took his talents to Compton in 2005, with the boardsman contributing this raucous ditty to The Game’s debut album, The Documentary. Utilizing drums from Slick Rick’s classic song “Lick the Balls,” as well as synths, organs and a vocal sample, Timothy Mosley turns in a monstrous number that remains one of the biggest highlights on one of the most ballyhooed debuts and a masterful exhibition of Timbo’s greatness behind the boards.
11 | “If Your Girl Only Knew”
The first artist to take one of Timbaland’s productions and turn it into a bonafide hit was Aaliyah, who entrusted the Virginia native with crafting the majority of her sophomore album One in a Million, including four of the album’s singles. One of those tracks, “If Your Girl Only Knew,” which Timbo built around kicks, snares, and guitar riffs, would score the producer his first Top 20 hit and mark the beginnings of one of the most iconic duos in R&B.
12 | “Work It”
In 2002, Timbaland hooked up with Missy for this fan favorite from her Under Construction album, which found the boardsman serving up a soundscape that incorporated old-school influences with a modern twist. Built around drum samples from various 80s records, including “Peter Piper” by Run-DMC, “Request Line” by Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three, and “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, this banger would dominate the conversation of hottest records of the year and captures Timbaland at the height of his powers.
13 | “The Jump Off”
Timbaland flips a sample of from his own production, Missy’s 2003 hit, “Get Ur Freak On,” for this 2003 club banger, which gave Lil’ Kim one of her most popular and successful songs to date. Littering the beat with horns, claps and frantic 808s, Timbo turns in a celebratory number that further entrenched him as one of the premier beatsmiths in the game.
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