Timbaland‘s first Shock Value had Top 40 radio buzzing for over a year. With hits with Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake and Rock group One Republic, Tim was able to hit several markets on one album. It was an impressive feat and the numbers reflected it appropriately. As the Virginia vet hit the studio for the sequel, Timb feels a step back from his prominence in 2007. However through all the changing styles, collaborators and 13 year knack for making hits, if anybody can make a monster comeback, it’s Tim Mosely.
From the jump, it becomes clear that Timbaland isn’t straying far from the formula that brought him droves of new fans last album. The album takes dead aim on radio, with no market going untouched. He shows his producing prowess by collaborating with the likes of The Fray and Daughtry and Rap’s 2009 poster-men: Drake and Gucci Mane. Going back to an old faithful, the album starts off with the radio smash “Carry Out” featuring Justin Timberlake. The chemistry between the two is apparent and they once again make another song that will have bodies moving. The song itself captures what’s wrong or maybe right with the entire project. Timbaland takes a back seat to the star-studded guestlist His rapping or singing can never compete with his features and at times, even takes away from the overall value of certain tracks.
Drake makes an appearance on “Say Something,” a song that will have the radio salivating. Moments after this collaboration, the album takes a turn for the worse. “Tomorrow in a Bottle” sounds like a remix of your standard cliché Rock hit, while “We Belong to Music” featuring Miley Cyrus is an oxymoron from title to execution. It’s these collaborations that seem unnatural and sales motivated. It’s hard to imagine a producer of Timbaland’s stature eager to work with Miley Cyrus. While producers like Dr. Dre, and Kanye West, are extremely selective of artists they work with, Timbaland seems okay with anybody who can hold open his passage-way to Top 40.
“Undertow” featuring Esthero and The Fray is an alternative venture that works for Timbaland. It’s a catchy tune that very well may be the “Apologize” of the Shock Value sequel. Both The Fray and Esthero sing rather soulful verses and the end result is one of the better records on the album. Unfortunately, the rest of these efforts rarely succeed. The aforementioned “Tomorrow in a Bottle” and the Daughtry-assisted “Long Way Down” will be criticized by both Rock and Hip Hop fans alike. Beyond that, the Katy Perry feature is laughable. Timbaland proved to the world last album that he can produce for whoever he wants to, and make it work as both a song and an album. The stars may have lined up in 2007, but almost three years later, the sky is clouded. Talent does not translate to any form of continuity on his own record. The album is everywhere and while the production is top notch, the randomness of the features and genres as well as the cliché song writing destroys the album’s credibility.
Timbaland proves that he is as diverse as a producer can possibly get, collaborating with artists that range from Miley Cyrus and Daughtry to Justin Timberlake and Drake. In many ways his sheer ability to do so is impressive, but that impressive feat does not translate to the albums artistic value. The album plays like an iPod on shuffle, extreme diversity without continuity. The listener is taken on a manic journey that is filled with dope production, strange collaborations and Timbaland’s journey into auto-tune. Some of it works with an immense vibe factor, while most other attempts inspire a push of the skip button and a shake of the head.