Producer Deep Focus - Timbaland

Story posted October 11, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Caelan Chevrier.

Timothy Zachery Mosley, known professionally as Timbaland, was born in Virginia in 1972. He started producing at age 19, and became more well-known after working with R&B artists, Aaliyah and Missy Elliot in the late 1990’s.

Throughout his 25+ year career, Timbaland has worked with some of the biggest faces in the industry from a variety of genres including pop, hip-hop, and electronic. He has found commercial success with several Billboard Hot 100 No. 1’s for both production credits and as a featured artist.

He has been nominated for 21 Grammys and has won 4. Timbaland is still active to this date, now finding a new purpose by educating young people who want to produce, and helping them connect to people in the industry. As a whole, Timbaland has had a very accomplished career, with no signs of stopping anytime soon.

5 Essential Timbaland Songs:

“Dirt Off Your Shoulder” - Jay-Z (2004)

When Timbaland first played Jay-Z the beat to “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” it was apparent that magic was made in the studio. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went double platinum. With loud, massive drums, and an earworm synth line, it is clear to see why this track was so successful.

“Promiscuous” - Nelly Furtado (feat. Timbaland) (2006)

“Promiscuous” was Nelly Furtado’s first No. 1 hit, due to a shift in production style. The track is still played excessively today, with Spotify streams surpassing over 500 million plays. Timbaland and Furtado flirtatious lyrics combined with the iconic drumline will leave people dancing and singing for the ages.

“Sexyback” - Justin Timberlake (feat. Timbaland) (2006)

Although Justin Timberlake was beloved by millions, “Sexyback” is what transformed him into a global icon. Timbaland’s abrupt synths and R&B-styled drums helped create one of the biggest left turns in pop-music history. “Sexyback” went No. 1 on the charts, and is certified 3x platinum. 

“Stronger” - Kanye West (2007)

Kanye West had not even heard of Daft Punk until Timbaland helped flip their 2001 techno classic “Harder Better Faster Stronger” into West’s biggest hit till this date. “Stronger” peaked at No. 1, and went 9x platinum. This also was the first time that West branched out of soul and jazz samples, now incorporating rock, electronic and pop into his work.

“Drunk in Love” - Beyoncé (feat. Jay-Z) (2013)

There is so much going behind the boards on Beyoncé’s, “Drunk in Love.” From the iconic vocal sample, the various synth stabs and leads, to a booming 808, what is there not to love? The track is one of Timbaland’s most complex instrumentals, but it proved that he could stay on top of the game over a decade from when his career first began.


Essential Timbaland Album:

"FutureSex/LoveSounds" - Justin Timberlake (2006)

Timbaland is directly responsible for Timberlake’s best album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds.”

Essentially every track on the record is a hit. Songs such as “Sexyback,” “My Love,” “Summer Love,” all killed it on the charts and completely transformed Timberlake’s image. Risks were taken here, numerous tracks exceeded the five-minute mark, and none of them ran stale by the end. “What Goes Around... / ...Comes Around (Interlude)” clocks in at 7:30 and features a godly beat switch that was unforeseen at the time in pop music.

The R&B and hip/hop influences behind each instrumental pair exceptionally well with Timberlake’s falsetto vocals. Timbaland also backs several of the tracks on vocals, providing ad-libs contrary to Justin.

It is clear to see how the duo poured an innumerable amount of time and effort into each and every track. The record today has clearly influenced dozens of artists in both hip/hop and pop. “FutureSex/LoveSounds” is intimate, raw and years ahead of its time.


Caelan Chevrier is a second-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email cjc6789@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

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Caelan Chevrier

Second Year / Journalism

Caelan Chevrier is a second-year student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University studying broadcast journalism and marketing with the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in four years. His plan is to get involved in numerous media-related clubs during his stay. His career goal is to spread informative, meaningful and entertaining content across various platforms and to be a positive impact on the community. He has also spent time working at The Westport Local Press in his hometown of Westport, CT. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).