Timbaland performing in West Hollywood in January 2010
Timothy Zachary Mosley
March 10, 1972
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
|Net worth||US$85 million (2017)|
Timbaland's first full credit production work was in 1996 on Ginuwine...the Bachelor for R&B singer Ginuwine. After further work on Aaliyah's second studio album One in a Million (1996) and Missy Elliott's debut studio album Supa Dupa Fly (1997), Timbaland became a prominent producer for R&B and hip hop artists. As a rapper he initially released several albums with fellow rapper Magoo, followed by his debut solo album Tim's Bio in 1998. In 2002, Timbaland produced the hit single "Cry Me a River" for Justin Timberlake, going on to produce most of Timberlake's subsequent LPs such as FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience and their respective hit singles. A Timbaland-owned imprint label, Mosley Music Group, featured artists such as Nelly Furtado, whose Timbaland-produced album Loose (2006) was a commercial and critical success. In 2007, Timbaland released a solo album, Shock Value, which was followed by Shock Value II in 2009. Later in his career he was responsible, along with Swizz Beatz, for creating the popular webcast series Verzuz in 2020.
Aside from the aforementioned artists, Timbaland's production credits from the 2000s forward include work with Jay-Z, Nas, Ludacris, Bubba Sparxxx, Madonna, Rihanna, OneRepublic, Brandy, Drake, Rick Ross and others. As a songwriter, he has written 85 UK hits and 99 hits Stateside, as of 2014. Timbaland has received widespread acclaim for his production style. In 2007, Entertainment Weekly stated that "just about every current pop trend can be traced back to him -- from sultry, urban-edged R&B songstresses ... to the art of incorporating avant-garde sounds into No. 1 hits."
Timothy Zachary Mosley was born on March 10, 1972 in Norfolk, Virginia, to Latrice, who ran a homeless shelter, and Garland Mosley, an Amtrak employee. He graduated from Salem High School of Virginia Beach, Virginia. During his time as a DJ, he was known as "DJ Tim" or "DJ Timmy Tim". His brother, Sebastian, is reportedly around nine years younger. His sister Courtney Rashon is a makeup artist and an author from New Jersey. While attending high school, Timbaland began a long-term collaboration with rapper Melvin (Magoo) Barcliff. The teenage Mosley also joined the production ensemble S.B.I. (which stood for 'Surrounded By Idiots') which also featured Neptunes producer Pharrell Williams. Mosley was also high school friends with brothers Terrence and Gene Thornton, who would become known as Pusha T and Malice of the rap group Clipse, respectively. In 1986, when Timbaland was 14 years old, he was accidentally shot by a co-worker at a local Red Lobster restaurant and was partially paralyzed for nine months. During this time, he began to learn how to DJ using his left hand.
Singer and rapper Missy Elliott heard his material and began working with him. She and her R&B group, Sista, auditioned for DeVante Swing, a producer and member of the successful R&B act Jodeci. DeVante signed Sista to his Swing Mob record label and Elliott brought Mosley and Barcliff along with her to New York, where Swing Mob was based. It was DeVante who renamed the young producer Timbaland, after the Timberland brand of construction boots. He and Magoo became part of SCI Zakys School stable of Swing Mob signees known as "Da Bassment" crew, joining artists such as R&B singer Ginuwine, male vocal group Playa (Smoke E. Digglera, Static Major and Digital Black), and the girl group Sugah. Timbaland did production work on a number of projects with DeVante, including the 1995 Jodeci LP The Show, The After-Party, The Hotel, and Sista's (unreleased) début LP 4 All the Sistas Around da World. Elliott began receiving recognition as a songwriter for artists such as R&B girl group 702 and MC Lyte. Due to Timbaland's connection with her, he was often contacted to produce remixes of her songs.
Timbaland began his producing career for R&B acts. In the early-1990s, he produced a few songs for R&B acts such as Jodeci and Sista. In 1996, he made his mainstream breakthrough by producing the majority of both Aaliyah's second album One in a Million and Ginuwine's debut album Ginuwine...the Bachelor. This included the major hit singles "If Your Girl Only Knew" by Aaliyah and "Pony" by Ginuwine. While Timbaland was initially producing for R&B artists, his trademark sound was very much rooted in hip-hop with its fast-paced nature and clear drum breaks. He was taking a hip-hop sound and applying it to R&B, and in this way his sound was instrumental in blurring the distinction between hip-hop and R&B production. In 1997, he fully produced Supa Dupa Fly, the debut album of Missy Elliott, who had been a childhood friend of Mosley. In this album Timbaland continued with his now trademark electronic production style, but since Missy frequently rapped the music was considered hip-hop. Also in 1997, he released his first album with his partner Magoo, Welcome to Our World, also a hip-hop album. In the late 1990s, his hip-hop production sound would become very influential and common as he produced for many high-profile hip-hop artists including Jay-Z, Nas, and The LOX. In 1999, he scored a major hit with Jay Z and rap group UGK with the hit "Big Pimpin'". He also fully produced Missy's second album in 1999, Da Real World. Still Timbaland in this period produced primarily for R&B artists. He continued to produce for Ginuwine and Aaliyah, as well as contributing significantly to albums by Xscape, Nicole, Playa, and Total. He remixed Usher's major hit "You Make Me Wanna". In the early 2000s Timbaland produced songs including Ludacris' "Roll Out (My Business)", Jay-Z's "Hola' Hovito",Petey Pablo's "Raise Up", and Beck's cover of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" during this period. He also contributed three songs, all eventually released as singles, to Aaliyah's self-titled third album, the exotic lead single "We Need a Resolution" (featuring himself rapping a verse), "More than a Woman", and the ballad "I Care 4 U". He also makes an appearance in Aaliyah's single "Try Again", which he also produced and co-wrote.
Timbaland & Magoo's second album together was slated for release in November 2000. Indecent Proposal was to feature appearances by Beck, Aaliyah, as well as new Timbaland protégés--some from his new Beat Club Records imprint--Ms. Jade, Kiley Dean, Sebastian (Timbaland's brother), Petey Pablo, and Tweet (who was a member of Sugah during the Swing Mob days). The album was delayed for an entire year, finally released in November 2001. It was a commercial disappointment. Beck's vocals for the track "I Am Music" were not included on the last version, which instead featured Timbaland singing along Steve "Static" Garrett of Playa and Aaliyah. The first release on Beat Club was the début album by Bubba Sparxxx in September 2001, Dark Days, Bright Nights. The loss of Aaliyah deeply affected Timbaland. In a phone call to the MTV show Total Request Live, Timbaland said:
She was like blood, and I lost blood. Me and her together had this chemistry. I kinda lost half of my creativity to her. It's hard for me to talk to the fans now. Beyond the music, she was a brilliant person, the [most special] person I ever met.-- Timbaland, MTV
Timbaland contributed three tracks to Tweet's debut album, Southern Hummingbird, and produced most of Missy Elliott's fourth and fifth LPs, Under Construction and This Is Not A Test!. He also produced tracks for artists such as Lil' Kim ("The Jump Off") and southern rapper Pastor Troy during this period. Collaborating with fellow producer Scott Storch, Timbaland also worked on a number of tracks on former *NSYNC lead singer Justin Timberlake's solo debut, Justified, including the song "Cry Me a River".
Late in 2003, Timbaland delivered the second Bubba Sparxxx album, Deliverance, and the third Timbaland & Magoo album, Under Construction, Part II Both albums were released to little fanfare or acclaim even though Deliverance was praised by reviews and embraced by the internet community. In 2004 Timbaland produced singles for LL Cool J, Xzibit, Fatman Scoop, and Jay Z, and he produced the bulk of Brandy's fourth album, Afrodisiac. Timbaland co-wrote two tracks (Exodus '04 and Let Me Give You My Love) and produced three tracks of the American-Japanese Pop star Hikaru Utada's second English album, Exodus. He continued working on tracks for Tweet and for Elliott's sixth album, The Cookbook: "Joy (feat. Mike Jones)", and "Partytime" and continued to expand his reach with production for The Game and Jennifer Lopez ("He'll Be Back" from her fourth studio album, Rebirth).
Timbaland started a new label, Mosley Music Group along with old friend and legendary Australian music producer John Servedio, also known as his stage name 'ServidSounds' who helped Timbaland bring in some talent from his former Beat Club Records label. On the new label were Nelly Furtado, Keri Hilson, and rapper D.O.E. In 2006 he produced Justin Timberlake's second solo studio album FutureSex/LoveSounds. His vocals feature on the songs "SexyBack", "Sexy Ladies", "Chop Me Up", "What Goes Around... Comes Around" and on the prelude to "My Love" entitled "Let Me Talk to You." Timbaland provided vocals on several singles: The Pussycat Dolls's "Wait a Minute", Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous", "Ice Box" by Omarion and Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack". In an interview published in August 2006 in the UK Timbaland revealed he was working on a new LP by Jay Z and that he had worked on tracks with Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Timbaland worked on seven songs for Björk's 2007 album, Volta, including "Earth Intruders", "Hope", and "Innocence" and he later worked on tracks for the new Duran Duran album, Red Carpet Massacre, including one featuring his frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake. Later in the year, Timbaland produced songs for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's LP, Strength & Loyalty and the song "Ayo Technology" on 50 Cent's album Curtis. Timbaland also produced most of the tracks on Ashlee Simpson's third CD, Bittersweet World, including the song "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)". On April 3, 2007, Timbaland released a collaboration album featuring artists including 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Elton John, Fall Out Boy, Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott, and others called Timbaland Presents Shock Value. A rivalry flared up between Timbaland and record producer Scott Storch in early 2007. The tension initially started on the single "Give It to Me", when Timbaland anonymously backlashed Storch: "I'm a real producer and you['re] just the piano man". In an interview, Timbaland confirmed that he was talking about Storch. The dispute partly stemmed from controversy regarding writing credits for Timberlake's "Cry Me a River".
Timbaland helped produce many albums for various artists in 2008, including Madonna's Hard Candy,Ashlee Simpson's Bittersweet World, Keri Hilson's In A Perfect World, Flo Rida's Mail On Sunday, Letoya Luckett's Lady Love, Lindsay Lohan's Spirit in the Dark, Chris Cornell's Scream, JoJo's All I Want Is Everything, Nicole Scherzinger's Her Name is Nicole, Missy Elliott's Block Party, Matt Pokora's MP3, Keithian's Dirrty Pop, The Pussycat Dolls's Doll Domination, Busta Rhymes's B.O.M.B, Lisa Maffia's Miss Boss, Teairra Mari's Pressed For Time,Jennifer Hudson's début album, Dima Bilan's Believe, Samantha Jade's My Name Is Samantha Jade, New Kids on the Block's The Block, and Keshia Chanté's Night & Day. Timbaland produced the Russian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2008, Believe by Dima Bilan, which was co-written by Bilan and Jim Beanz. The song then won the contest when it was held in Belgrade, Serbia in May 2008. In February 2008 the first 'Fashion against AIDS' collection -an initiative of 'Designers against AIDS' and sold in H&M stores in 28 countries- was launched, for which Timbaland designed a T-shirt print, posed for the campaign and spoke out in a video, to help raise HIV/AIDS awareness among urban youth and to advocate safe sex. On February 8, 2008, it was announced that Timbaland would be releasing an album exclusively for Verizon Wireless's V CAST cell phone service and was designated its very first "Mobile Producer in Residence." Timbaland was to be joined by Mosley Music Group/Zone 4 singer and songwriter Keri Hilson to begin work on the mobile album's first track aboard the fully equipped Mobile Recording Studio. The only track to surface so far[when?] is Garry Barry Larry Harry "Get It Girl". In Timbaland's first effort within the video game industry, he worked with Rockstar Games to produce Beaterator, a music mixing game for the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Network, and iOS released in the September 2009.
Timbaland spoke to MTV's Shaheem Reid back in July 2008 to confirm that he was working on the follow-up to his platinum selling Shock Value. At the time he confirmed that he had one track with Madonna which although recorded for her album Hard Candy it had not been used and could end up on this album instead. He was insistent that he would also collaborate with Jordin Sparks, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and T.I. However, none of these collaborations (except Miley Cyrus) made it to the final track list. He also said that alongside T-Pain who would definitely appear, he hoped to get Jay-Z on board, although he ultimately failed to do so. Timbaland began working on the sequel to Shock Value in July 2008. In March 2009, he filed a lawsuit against his label, Blackground Records, alleging that they attempted to blackball him after he decided to move from music performance into production.
In September 2009, Timbaland announced that Shock Value II will be released on November 23, in Europe and November 24, in North America. However, it was pushed back to December 8, preceded by the first single which features a new recording artist named SoShy entitled "Morning After Dark". New featured guest appearances on the album include DJ Felli Fel, Justin Timberlake, JoJo, Bran'Nu, Drake, Chad Kroeger, Sebastian, Miley Cyrus, Melody Thornton, Nelly Furtado, Katy Perry, Esthero, The Fray, Jet, Daughtry, OneRepublic, Keri Hilson, Attitude and D.O.E.. Ultimately Madonna, Jonas Brothers, Rihanna, Usher, Jay Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Linkin Park, The All-American Rejects, Paramore, Gucci Mane, T-Pain, T.I. and Akon never appeared on Shock Value II. Shock Value II is infamous for its use of over-the-top vocal effects. Despite charting low, Timbaland has had three top forty singles to date.[when?]
"Morning After Dark" featuring SoShy and Nelly Furtado is the lead single from Timbaland's third studio album. The song was written by Tim Mosley, Jerome Harmon, Deborah Epstein, Michelle Bell, Keri Hilson, Nelly Furtado, James Washington, John Maultsby and produced by Timbaland and Jroc. The single premiered on October 16, 2009, on Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show, On-Air with Ryan Seacrest with Timbaland describing it as the kick-off song from the project. Following her performance, the song was sent for radio adds on May 25. The song peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. With this success, the song became Sparks' fifth consecutive top 20 hit and third nonconsecutive top 10 hit. On May 24, Sparks headed to Europe to begin promotion for the single."Say Something" featuring Canadian rapper Drake was released to US iTunes on November 3, 2009. It was officially sent to U.S. radio on January 5, 2010. It is the album's second single and reached number 23 on the Hot 100, making it the second most successful single on the album. "Carry Out" featuring Justin Timberlake is the third single from the album but was initially only released in the U.S. It was sent to US radio on December 1, 2009. It is the most successful single on the album, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video premiered on February 18, 2010. It was released as the third UK single on April 26, 2010. "If We Ever Meet Again" featuring Katy Perry is the album's fourth single. The music video premiered on January 18, 2010. In the UK, it was released February 15, 2010.
Timbaland produced Chris Cornell's 2009 album Scream. Shakira was asked to record vocals on the song "Give It Up to Me" to be included on Timbaland's forthcoming album but it was placed on her third studio album She Wolf and released as the second US single instead. One of the songs Timbaland had produced for Beyoncé's 2008 album I Am... Sasha Fierce was reworked by Keri Hilson and Jay Z for Shock Value II but not included. He was a guest host of WWE's Raw on December 28, 2009. Timbaland appeared on March 25, 2010 episode (titled "Blowback") of FlashForward as an evidence agent. His songs "Morning After Dark" and "Symphony" appear on the video game Def Jam: Underground.
In April 2010, a feud arose between the producer and R&B singer Ginuwine, after Timbaland failed to make an appearance at the singer's music video shoot of "Get Involved". Later in April, Timbaland released a new single featuring T-Pain and Billy Blue titled "Talk That". In June 2010, when questioned by RWD magazine about the UK music scene he made the bold claim to be the inspiration for the dub-step music scene. "The UK scene... they're always telling me that I started it. You have Dub-bass...". When questioned further about it he went on to say: "It's funny cos they went back to some of my old music that really created that sound and just, instead of going fast, they went slow with more bass." In August 2010, a "possible suicide attempt" APB was put out for Timbaland after his home was burgled. When his family were unable to contact him, they called 911 and a manhunt began. Police eventually found his car and brought him back home, where paramedics examined him, before declaring he was not a threat to himself. When questioned, Timbaland said he only took a drive to think about the burglary, as he thought the possible thief could have been someone close whom he trusted.
In 2010, Timbaland split with longtime label Blackground Records, but stayed with Interscope Records. Later in the year, Timbaland was featured on the deluxe edition of Chris Brown's album, F.A.M.E., producing the songs "Paper, Scissors, Rock" (feat. Big Sean) and the Japan-only bonus track, "Talk Ya Ear Off". Timbaland was also featured on David Guetta's LP, Nothing But the Beat, on "I Just Wanna F." with Dev and Afrojack. Timbaland also worked with teen star Demi Lovato; he produced and had a small feature in her song "All Night Long" on Lovato's Unbroken album. In November 2010, Timbaland announced that he would be releasing a new song every Thursday, called Timbo Thursdays; a copy of the initiative shown by artists such as Kanye West (via G.O.O.D. Fridays), and Swizz Beatz (via Monster Mondays). In an interview with Rap-Up.com Timbaland stated, "So, my brother told me Kanye is puttin' out a new song every Friday called G.O.O.D. Fridays, Swizz got Mondays, I don't know if they are on Twitter but can you hit them up, and tell them reserve that Thursday for Timbo the king baby. We'll call it Timbo Thursday, cool?"
On January 13, 2011, Timbaland began his Timbaland Thursdays free music initiative, with the first song released being "Take Ur Clothes Off", featuring Missy Elliott. In early 2011, he stopped the weekly free music as he spent time in South Africa, and wanted to help produce tracks for his brother, Sebastian. The first official single from Shock Value III, "Pass at Me" featuring American rapper Pitbull, with uncredited production by French DJ David Guetta, was released on September 13, 2011, after having been previously used to promote a book titled Culo. The album's second single, "Break Ya Back" featuring American singer Dev, was released on April 17, 2012. For the fourth installment in the Step Up franchise, Step Up Revolution, Timbaland released a track called "Hands In the Air", which features American singer Ne-Yo.
On January 30, 2013, Timbaland signed to Jay-Z's label Roc Nation. Later that year, Timbaland would serve as the main producer of Justin Timberlake's recent LP, The 20/20 Experience, including the album's singles: "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors". Timbaland also produced Beyoncé's song "Grown Woman" which was featured in her Pepsi commercial and 2013 tour, The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, and the song "I Don't Have To Sleep to Dream" on Cher's 2013 album Closer to the Truth.
In April 2011, Timbaland and long time friend and business partner Mike Evans signed a deal to with Sony/ATV Music Publishing's Extreme Music to create 75 new urban pop tracks for the production music house.
In August 2013, Timbaland revealed that he was working on a project featuring unreleased material by Michael Jackson, with a lead single called "Love Never Felt So Good".
On September 24, 2013, Timbaland collaborated with T.I. for his new co-produced Indonesian artist, AGNEZ MO, in her song titled Coke Bottle. The premiere launch event of the single became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.
On November 15, 2013, Timbaland released his first single for his fourth album, Opera Noir, called "Know Bout Me" featuring Drake, Jay-Z, and James Fauntleroy. By 2014, it was originally announced that both Timbaland and Missy Elliott would be an essential component per production of Kat Dahlia's debut album, My Garden, however neither of the duo's contributions saw the light of day. On January 7, 2015, Timbaland received production credit for his involvement with the musical score of Lee Daniels and Danny Strong's television project Empire, which premiered on FOX. Constructively, Timbaland and his team, including Jim Beanz, Raphael Saadiq, and others, compose the series' songs based on material given to them by the show's writing team per each episode.
In June 2016, Timbaland and Andy Rubinhas teamed up with SubPac, a Los Angeles-based startup working on a wearable sound device. There is[when?] still no release date for his new album Textbook Timbo. On December 15, 2017, Timbaland released the song "Grab the Wheel", which features 6lack on vocals. The song also has a music video which was released on the same day.
In 2019, Timbaland began teaching through Masterclass, providing an instructional series on production and beatmaking.
An important figure in the creation of American R&B's "stuttering kick-drums template," Timbaland's influence extended beyond the U.S. and crossed international waters, especially in UK garage and rave culture. Timbaland, as an R&B producer, created a distinctive, rhythmic sound using breakbeats, which break up the smooth flow of tracks to create moments of tension and release. This technique that Timbaland pioneered would later serve to create "bootleg" garage tracks, which was essential in the rise of UK garage. What began as an underground movement soon grew in popularity, with bootleg remixes selling upwards of 20,000 copies, something unheard of at the time. One such example is the remix of Brandy & Monica's "The Boy Is Mine".
In January 2007, Timbaland was alleged to have plagiarized several elements (both motifs and samples) in the song "Do It" on the 2006 album Loose by Nelly Furtado without giving credit or compensation. The song itself was released as the fifth North American single from Loose in July 2007.
Timbaland's legal troubles continued. In lieu of a copyright lawsuit over the song "Throw It on Me" from his Shock Value album, Timbaland and David Cortopassi, the composer of "Spazz", a song originally recorded by The Elastik Band and released by ATCO/Atlantic and EMI, reached a settlement agreement in July 2009. The terms of the settlement remained undisclosed at the time. "Spazz", noted as being "one of the most tasteless records ever made", was initially banned by radio stations and even pulled mid-stream while on air when first released in 1967, with the DJ even apologizing to his listeners for playing the record.
In January 2014, the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung revealed another plagiarism case concerning the track "Versus" by Jay-Z, which was produced by Timbaland. The track's instrumental is very similar to, if not directly sampled from "On the Way" by Swiss musician Bruno Spoerri. According to Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, the plagiarism case was settled by March 2015. Jay-Z and Timbaland were to pay 50% from the song's revenue to Spoerri as royalties for the music, with Jay-Z retaining 50% for the lyrics.
He made ends meet with a series of menial jobs, including washing dishes at a Red Lobster, until late one night he wound up on the wrong end of a gun. The bullet passed through Tim's neck and lodged in his right shoulder (fragments remain to this day). For nine months, Tim was paralyzed on his right side, forcing him to learn to DJ with his left hand.
Tim rarely talks about the shooting, and is, in fact, quite critical of gangsta rappers who boast of their war wounds. I'm not a rapper," he says dismissively. I'm not talking about my scars or my battles. Still, the shooting did help him form a bond with 50 Cent. I'll tell you this, Tim says. If you get shot and you survive, you feel like you're an Incredible Hulk. Them bullets don't hurt when they go in. But then they got that burnin', that acid burn. Goddamn! It feels like a stove burning your blood. You feel like any minute you gonna be dyin'.