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Discographically Speaking: Timbaland

Timbland AaliyahLate R&B superstar Aaliyah was the beneficiary of many of Timbaland's best beats .

Producer extraordinaire Timbaland is set to drop by the 9:30 club on Saturday night to promote his album, “Shock Value II,” the latest in a series of his ho-hum, guest-star-dependent solo projects. While his albums aren't exactly terrible, Tim's best work behind the boards comes when he creates tracks for other artists. So, rather than debate the merits of “Tim’s Bio,” or the producer’s full-length collaborations with Magoo, this edition of Discographically Speaking rates Timbaland’s finest beats. (And remember, people -- we’re evaluating the production work, here, not the songs themselves, which is why we have Petey Pablo, but no Nelly Furtado.)

12. “Are You That Somebody?” - Aaliyah, "Dr. Doolittle" soundtrack, 1998

Anyone who didn’t go ballistic when they first heard the cooing baby noises Tim used to augment the electronic beat box of this track must hate musical innovation. Or small children.

11. “Hey Papi,” - Jay-Z (featuring Memphis Bleek), “Nutty Professor II” soundtrack, 2002

Another Eddie Murphy movie, another slice of genius. Notable touches include the sprinkling of soft guitar notes that cool off the hard-driving beat, and one of Timbaland's more hilarious monotone asides (an unenthusiastic "All my mamis bounce.")

(Nos. 10-1 after the jump)

10. Tie: “My Love” - Justin Timberlake feat. T.I., “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” 2006; and “Cry Me a River” - Justin Timberlake, “Justified,” 2002

The super-creepy, Scott Storch-assisted “Cry Me a River,” with dark strings setting off Tim’s signature crackles, is the perfect backdrop for Timberlake’s stalker fantasy, while the lurching robo-pop of “My Love” is an impeccable complement to J.T.'s dance moves.

9. “Raise Up” - Petey Pablo, “Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry,” 2001

While screaming, “This one’s for North Carolinaaaa!,” as Petey Pablo does here, doesn’t make the most of this Timbaland masterpiece, it doesn't completely screw it up either. It would take a far more inept rapper than Pablo to unravel the tightly woven composition of rock guitar and sliding synth.

8. “Pony” - Ginuwine, “Ginuwine…The Bachelor,” 1996
One of Tim Mosley’s early credits and one of his finest creations. As R&B crooner Giuwine invites the ladies to “jump on it,” Tim fills in the spaces with a croaking, slow-paced beat that perfectly evokes both dude ranch and Bunny Ranch -- which is why, to this day, the song remains in rotation at bars that house mechanical bulls.

7. "Running Mate" - Kelis, (unreleased)
On this outtake from the singer’s 2003 “Tasty,” Timbaland unifies an entire junkyard band full of clanging sound effects with a slinky bassline. Turns out the Neptunes aren't the only V-A producers who can work wonders for Kelis.

6. “Pass That Dutch” - Missy Elliott, “This is Not A Test!,” 2003
If a bunch of kids on a sugar high got together for a sped-up round of Miss Mary Mack while someone played a didgeridoo in the background, it would sound something like this. And no one other than Missy Misdemeanor could do it justice.

5. “Big Pimpin’” - Jay Z (feat. UGK), “Vol 3…The Life and Times of Shawn Cater,” 2000
"Dirt of Your Shoulders” is the more heralded Timbaland/Jay-Z collaboration, but this track showed Tim’s diversity -- he brings in Middle Eastern flavor by sampling, and slowing down, the opening notes of Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez's "Khosara." The track isn't even immediately recognizable as a Timbaland production, showing that he's not tied to any specific sound.

4. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” - Jay-Z, “The Black Album,” 2003
This artfully sputtering track, complete with screaming space synth, was a high point of Jay-Z's last great album -- no mean feat.

3. “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” - Missy Elliott, “Supa Dupa Fly,” 1997
A series of electro plinks and plunks evoke acid raindrops and help give Missy her bonafide hit.

2. “Try Again” - Aaliyah, “Romeo Must Die” soundtrack, 2000
There is more action in this soundtrack contribution than in “Romeo Must Die" itself, thanks to a busy track that would work as the score to any number of '90s fighting video games.

1. “We Need A Resolution” - Aaliyah, “Aaliyah,” 2001

Many of Timbaland’s greatest beats were created for the dearly departed baby girl, but this is the best of the best. Aaliyah's sweet vocals wind themselves around the exotic snake-charmer-inspired production, while Tim lets loose a ton of his infectious "Ficky! Ficky!" asides, as well as a decent, song-closing rap verse. Perfection.

By Sarah Godfrey  |  January 15, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Discographically speaking  | Tags: Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Kelis, Missy Elliott, Timbaland  
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Comments

This is a joke, right? Surely Get Ur Freak On is number 1on the real list.

Posted by: agl132 | January 15, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Get Ur Freak On? Nah. Missy kills it--no question--but Timbaland's work on the track is heavy-handed and just plain ol' obnoxious.

Posted by: Sarah_Godfrey | January 16, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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