Timbaland

Timbaland
Timbaland. Photo by Ian Gavan / Getty Images

Birth and Early Career

Timbaland was born Timothy Zachery Mosley in Norfolk, Virginia March 10, 1972. Growing up in Norfolk, Mosley became acquainted with future collaborators Missy Elliott and Melvin Barcliff, aka DJ Magoo. Timothy Mosley was also friends with Pharrell Williams. They worked together in a group known as S.B.I. (Surrounded By Idiots).

Swing Mob

Timothy Mosley, Missy Elliott, and Magoo auditioned for Jodeci member Devante Swing in the early 1990's.

The trio were signed to Devante's Swing Mob label. Timothy Mosley was dubbed Timbaland in reference to popular Timberland boots. Timbaland met and began collaborating with fellow Swing Mob member Ginuwine, an r&b solo singer.

Timbaland and Missy Elliott Work With Aaliyah

Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Magoo, and Ginuwine all left Swing Mob in the mid-1990's. Timbaland produced Ginuwine's successful first album Ginuwine...the Bachelor in 1996, and the massive hit single "Pony" put the producer and artist on the map. R&B singer Aaliyah hired Timbaland and Missy Elliott to write and produce music for her second album One in a Million. It was another smash success for Timbaland.

Timbaland as Top Producer

Timbaland's style of rejecting samples in favor of a sound layered with a variety of instruments and beats became one of the most distinctive in contemporary hip-hop and r&b. His work with Aaliyah on such classics as 1998's "Are You That Somebody" and 2000's "Try Again" took hip hop in idiosyncratic new directions.

Timbaland brought Asian and Middle Eastern influences into his work with Jay-Z ("Big Pimpin'") and Missy Elliott ("Get Ur Freak On")

Top Timbaland Single Productions

  • Ginuwine - "Pony" - 1996 - #6
  • Aaliyah - "Try Again" - 2000 - #1
  • Missy Elliott - "Get Ur Freak On" - 2001 - #7
  • Justin Timberlake - "Cry Me A River" - 2002 - #3
  • Missy Elliott - "Work It" - 2002 - #2
  • Justin Timberlake - "SexyBack" - 2006 - #1
  • Justin Timberlake - "My Love" - 2006 - #1
  • Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around...Comes Around" - 2006 - #1
  • Nelly Furtado - "Promiscuous" - 2006 - #1
  • Nelly Furtado - "Say It Right" - 2006 - #1
  • Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado - "Give It To Me" - 2007 - #1
  • Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson - "The Way I Are" - 2007 - #3
  • Timbaland feat. OneRepublic - "Apologize" - 2007 - #2
  • Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake - "4 Minutes" - 2008 - #3
  • Beyonce - "Drunk In Love" - 2013 - #2
  • Justin Timberlake - "Suit & Tie" - 2013 - #3
  • Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors" - 2013 - #2
  • Justin Timberlake - "Not a Bad Thing" - 2014 - #8
  • Michael Jackson - "Love Never Felt So Good" - 2014 - #9

The Death of Aaliyah and Aftermath

Aaliyah's death in 2001 in a tragic air accident was a major personal blow for Timbaland. He continued to work on new projects, but his output slowed somewhat. One key project, a production collaboration with Scott Storch, yielded the instant classic "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake.

Career Resurgence for Timbaland

Two album projects led to Timbaland's re-emergence as one of the hottest music producers in the business.

He started a new label called the Mosley Music Group. One of his first signings was singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado. Timbaland's production and songwriting along with efforts from protege Danja Hills helped turn Nelly Furtado's 2006 Loose album into a smash hit. The singles "Maneater" and "Promiscuous" topped the pop singles charts in the UK and US respectively.

Near the end of the summer of 2006 Justin Timberlake released his second solo album featuring work from Timbaland on all but one track. "SexyBack", the first single from the album, became Timbaland's second #1 hit single in the US in the space of 3 months.  With Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" and "LoveStoned," Timbaland won Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording two years in a row. In 2008, he earned a nomination for Non-Classical Producer of the Year.

Successful Solo Artist

In early 2007 Timbaland released the solo album Timbaland Presents Shock Value. It was a smash hit and included the top #1 hit single "Give It To Me" featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake as well as the first pop hit appearances by Keri Hilson ("The Way I Are") and OneRepublic ("Apologize"). The album was a platinum certified success.

He followed it up in 2009 with Shock Value II. This time the singles weren't as successful, but it still included the well received #11 charting hit "Carry Out" with Justin Timberlake, and "If We Ever Meet Again" with vocals from Katy Perry.

In 2013 Timbaland once again collaborated with Justin Timberlake as one of three producers on the album The 20/20 Experience. He also co-produced multiple songs on Beyonce's self-titled fifth studio album in 2013 including the songs "Drunk In Love" and "Partition."