Magoo Has Passed Away At Age 50

Magoo, one-half of Timbaland & Magoo, has reportedly passed away. The Chesapeake, Virginia artist born Melvin Barcliff died yesterday (August 13) at 50 years, according to friends and collaborators, including Ginuine and Playa producer Digital Black. No cause of death has been revealed at this time.

“I don’t even know how to say anything at this point , I have lost three friends now within a month to LIFE and its due date,” Ginuwine wrote in an emotional caption, adding that inner-circle members called the artist “Maganoo.”

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Timbaland & Magoo released three albums as a duo, starting with 1997’s platinum debut Welcome To Our World. The Blackground/Atlantic Records LP included “Up Jumps da Boogie” and “Luv 2 Luv U”—both produced by the emerging Tim. In late 2003, they released Under Construction, Part II, a swan song from the pair intended to serve as a spiritual sequel to Missy Elliott’s Grammy-nominated hit album a year earlier. Missy appeared on the Tim & Magoo record.

Magoo’s musical beginnings were with Tim’ in a group called S.B.I. (Surrounded By Idiots), which included Pharrell Williams and a fourth member, Larry Live. “One day Tim was like, ‘I know this dude named Pharrell. He’s on another level, but he’s in another group,'” Magoo recalled in a 2020 interview with You Know I Got Soul. “Pharrell never wanted to leave Chad [Hugo] and Shay of The Neptunes, but he was intrigued by what we were doing. He wanted to be involved in it but not necessarily leave his group. Tim told us about him and we went over there the next day. It’s funny looking back, but Pharrell was miles ahead of everyone. The Pharrell the public sees now, that’s what he was then. This isn’t an act. I wouldn’t consider him a nerd, but I can see why they called themselves N*E*R*D. They were different. Chad, Pharrell and Shay were all cool dudes, but they weren’t trying to beat people up. Street cats loved them though. Pharrell’s musical ability was out of space and he was in his own world. The first time I heard him do a rap, I was like, ‘This dude already sounded like he was ready for the mainstream.’ He must have just been born with it. It was like Tim, I never heard anybody that had that kind of understanding of what it was like to write a song.”

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Like Timbaland and Missy, Magoo was an alumnus of Da Bassment, a faction within Devante’s Swing Mob. The Virginia-based super-group (who lived together in New York City) also included Jodeci’s Devante Sway, Playa, and Missy’s group Sista, among others. “When I first got around all those cats, they were the most talented group of people I’d ever been around. When you’re in the moment, you don’t appreciate it as much but all those people pushed me. They never pushed me because it was a competition though. Nobody ever competed against each other and there was no animosity, but when you see Playa or Ginuwine, Missy’s group Sista or Tweet’s group Sugah recording, it was so much talent. Devante had a fantastic eye for talent. I never looked at it like it was a school, but they are right,” Magoo said in ’20. “You learned from each person.” The crew made an appearance on Jodeci’s remix to “What About Us” in 1994, marking Magoo’s debut on wax. Before his debut with Tim, the MC appeared on songs by Devante, Ginuine, and Missy.

After the mid-2000s, Magoo formed a production company with a roster he said worked with Justin Timberlake and Madonna. However, Magoo deliberately avoided the spotlight and spoke honestly about his days as an artist. “The hardest thing to find when you become famous is finding someone who really loves you. I have no regrets though about being in a group with my friend though. That was the best time for me when we would make those songs together. That’s the only thing I miss. I don’t miss the fame, I just miss making songs with my homeboy. That was the fun part.” He continued, “I never talk to the people from the record company anymore that told me how great I was and they don’t call on Christmas. The friends and family I had before are the same one I had after and that’s what matters most.”

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Six years ago, Timbaland opened up about a near-fatal overdose using Ocxycontin. In 2018, Missy publicly revealed her longtime battle with Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disease. Playa Member Static Major—who had become a hit producer and songwriter—died 15 years ago, in 2008 from complications surrounding a medical procedure. Magoo collaborator Aaliyah died in a 2001 plane crash.

Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to Timbaland, Missy, Ginuine, Devante Sway, and the collaborators, friends, and fans of Magoo.