April 3, 2007

Shortcuts—Timbaland's Timbaland Presents Shock Value

Treating the severely ill has always been a challenge-and-a-half, but with the development of shock treatment, patients are able to experience a much needed improvement in their disposition. Similarly, producer Timbaland has been providing the remedy for recording artists with his own form of shock treatment that has been guaranteed to send artists’ record sales skyrocketing as high as the peaks on an EEG reading and induce a grand mal seizure that will drag listeners out of their state of musical depression.

Successes of the “Timbaland Treatment” include helping Aaliyah dust herself off and try her musical career again, getting his freak on with Missy Elliott, playing Nelly Furtado’s “promiscuous boy,” and “bringing sexy back” with Justin Timberlake. Yet, with Timbaland Presents Shock Value, Timbaland’s musical formula for success is revealed. And it isn’t that shocking, either.

On Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, Timbaland took simple tracks such as “What Goes Around…” and “Lovestoned” and contoured the songs so that the last half of each was an evolution of the first. However, both of Justin’s appearances on Timbaland Presents Shock Value as well as the remaining 15 tracks on this CD are in desperate need of a defibrillator.

Insistent on matching his muscular demeanor, Timbaland uses harsh lyrics to demonstrate his newfound street credibility. He demands for his nemesis to “put the rope around your neck” and jump in “Kill Yourself,” and then oddly proceeds to the seductive “Board Meeting.” In “Come And Get Me,” Timbo tries to exude as much thug, if not more, than both 50 Cent and Tony Yayo combined…and fails.

Yet, even with all of the previously noted demarcations, this collection of B-sides is still worth listening to. Featuring an exhilarated Keri Hilson and Nicole Scherzinger, “Scream” remains at a steady gallop, showing once again that slow and steady wins the race. However, the only reason that Keri gave Tim her number in the first place was because of a “Miscommunication.”

“Wipe that smile off your fucking face,” lead singer of Fallout Boy screams as Timbaland pounds the bass underneath his plea in “One and Only,” a high-energy track that gives new meaning to rock. Even the Bhangra Panjabi Hit Squad has regarded Tim’s fusion of Indian and hip-hop music in “Bombay” as incredible, previewing the song on their station a week before the album’s release.

Thus, Timbaland’s shock value isn’t always readily seen in his musical creativity or his lyrical brilliance, but is constantly noticed in his ability to create hits that are more addictive than nicotine. Why else would Björk choose him to produce her lead single on her forthcoming album Volta?

—Emale Gray