Timbaland Describes The Musical Chemistry Between Him & JAY-Z (Video)

Timbaland hopes that 2018 will signal a true comeback season. The four-time Grammy Award-winner recently revealed that he battled a nearly fatal Oxycontin addiction in 2014. Once a mainstay on the singles charts by way of his hit-making productions and collaborations, Tim Mosley had a much quieter 2017. Now the Roc Nation act is recently back to the top of the rankings thanks to his work (“Pray”) on Sam Smith’s The Thrill Of It All.

The Virginia Beach veteran sits down with Noah Callahan-Bever for the latest episode of Blueprint. In the 25-minute interview, the historically guarded super-producer opens up about his addiction (18:00), and its impact on his art. He admits that while he’s successful at producing hits for just about every major genre, running record labels is not his strength. He addresses some of his most beloved work, Aaliyah’s music, being absent from streaming platforms (14:00). Moreover, Tim’ gives major credit to Missy Elliott (3:00) for helping take his career to the next level through teaching him about melody and making a hand-delivered introduction to Jodeci’s DeVante Swing.

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A particularly interesting highlight comes as Timbaland describes his 20-year collaborative history with JAY-Z. “I just follow [JAY-Z’s] rhythm. He had an idea…the first beat I did, I heard him mumbling the rap [to “Ni**a What, Ni**a Who (Originator 99)”]. So for me, I saw the cadence of what he was doin’. I said, ‘Oh, give me five minutes.’ I put on my headphones [and made it] and said, ‘There you go.’ He was [astounded]. It fit, ‘Jigga What? Jigga Who?‘ And that’s when I knew that we had a chemistry.” After making “Ni**a What, Ni**a Who (Originator 99)” with Jay for Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life, the Brooklyn MC approached the VA producer with a rhythm and chorus he had stuck in his head.

Tim’ describes the incident at 11:20. On the heels of one of Jay and Tim’s most beloved collaborations (“Big Pimpin'”), “Hey Papi” followed mere months later, keeping the party going in the video. “I remember we was somewhere…I think it was an Aaliyah party, for her birthday, I believe. He said, ‘Yo, I was in the shower [and have a rhythm in my head],'” Tim’ describes, recreating Jay’s humming of the busy intro to the would-be song. Jay apparently had his chorus in mind too. Tim continues, “I said whew! So I go back to the studio, and I remembered the melody he was saying [and created the song]. I saw the vision for the rap. He kinda gave me new ideas on how to attack a beat in a way. It was weird. I think that I always wanted to make the sonics of my beats and the music behind the beats to match the theme of his raps.”

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The 2000 song featured then-Roc stars Amil and Memphis Bleek and was included on The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps soundtrack. Timothy replicated that crazy beat in Shawn Carter’s mind. Elsewhere in the discussion, he speaks in depth about the pair making 2013’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail.