Timbaland may be the most innovative producer of our time. He's arguably done more for other artists than any other producer in Hip Hop (or now even pop) history. Whenever Tim gets behind the boards, we all know something special is coming. At this point in his career he could be dubbed "The Master Of Reinvention." There was even a time when producers attempted to mimic his trademark stuttering drums which led Tim to reinvent himself by using ridiculous sounds ("Are You That Somebody's" baby cries anyone?) to make sure that that he always was one step ahead of the game. But there's always been one glaring problem with Timothy Mosely...he can't create the same magic for himself as he does for others. With that in consideration, Timbaland employs some A-list guests for his new album Shock Therapy. Will he succeed in the one thing that his career is devoid from- an excellent album?
Just like how mixtape emcees like Lloyd Banks, Fabolous and Joe Budden are excellent everywhere else but their own albums, Timbaland is with his production. Shock Value is no different. Everything on the album feels disconnected. From the guest list down to the production, Shock Value doesn't really shock anyone except for a few choice cuts.
"Oh Timbaland" shows Tim's penchant for banging out a dope beat. Utilizing the same Nina Simone sample that Talib Kweli rocked on "Get By," Timbaland manipulates the sample to create a hook that sounds like its saying "Oh Timbaland." Pretty ill if you know how the original sounds. Elsewhere, Tim rules the pop aesthetic alongside Keri Hilson and soon-to-be-ex-PCD Nicole Scherzinger on the edgy guitar driven track "Scream." The production throughout Shock Value is solid although nothing really takes it to the next-next level that people expect from Timbaland. It must suck to be so ahead of your time that even next level production falls short of expectations.
Sometimes we wish Timbaland would stop rapping. Other times we just try to drown out his blahzay lyrics because the beats are just that dope. Well, on Shock Value he brings along some guests that sound just as bad as he does. Case in point is "Bounce." The beat is absolutely bonkers and, on paper, the guest list of Dr. Dre, Missy and Justin Timberlake should prove to be a shining moment. Well in the infamous words of Borat, "Not So Much." Yeah, Justin Timberlake's hook is wack as hell ("Bounce, like your ass had the hiccups") and we all know Dre wouldn't do nothing genius unless Eminem or Jay-Z or somebody put the ghost ink to the pad for him. But Missy's verse? "Hold up/Hell Nah/Like Brittney Spears, I wear no drawers"...yeeeeeaaaah. Way to go ruining a dope beat. Thanks guys.
There are several cuts on the album that either shouldn't be on this particular album or omitted completely from the Timbaland library. While 50 Cent rocks out on "Come & Get Me," Timbaland and Tony Yayo's verses are so wretched that they ruin the entire track. "Boardmeeting" finds Tim getting Magoo back in the groove and Magoo once again proves that he ain't worth shit. Not to mention the concept of the track pulls up lamer than a Shaq free throw. Even the snoozer song with Elton John titled "2 Man Show" feels a bit contrived as Timbaland is basically rubbing our noses in his "see-what-I-can-accomplish" musk.
Sure there are some wack moments but there are a few that work too. "Give It To Me" still rumbles as Timberlake, Furtado and Timbaland talk shit. Rockers She Wants Revenge and Fall Out Boy make Timbaland go to work on "Time" and "One & Only" respectively. But the jewel of the album is the collaboration with One Republic on "Apologize." Timbaland begins with light keys as the vocals echo with a certain moodiness that swarms upon the listener right before Tim injects some slapping drums that allow this song (and album) to go from 0-60 in a matter of moments....however brief those moments are.
Shock Value is basically an album that validates Timbaland's "I can do whatever the fuck I want" stance. He has unconventional collaborations, shows loyalty to old friends and concocts a hodgepodge of stuff that he can proudly say that he's accomplished. Unfortunately those accomplishments just look good on paper...not so hot on record.