As one of the most respected and long-lasting producers in the music industry, Timbaland is known for taking hip-hop way out of its box. And his latest innovative project ‘Shock Value’ is no different. The jam-packed CD includes different featured artists on nearly every track, so listeners are bound to find something they like. Notables include Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliot, The Hives, Fall Out Boy and even Elton John.
Timbaland opens up with one of the album’s weaker tracks, ‘Oh Timbaland.’ The song is a fast-paced romp with a touch of dirty South, but it ends up sounding a little strange and disconnected.
The songs that follow make up for this small misstep. Those who love Timbaland’s dark, hard-hitting beats will not be disappointed. His current single, ‘Give It to Me,’ featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake, is a surefire club-banger, and it’s only a sneak preview of what the rest of the album has in store. Timbaland’s beats on ‘The Way I Are,’ ‘Bounce’ and ‘Kill Yourself’ are nothing short of phenomenal.
Most of the featured artists deliver stellar performances. Timbaland’s old friend Missy Elliot delivers a verse on ‘Bounce’ that throws it back to the old Missy and Timbaland collaborations of the 1990s. Magoo also makes an appearance on the track ‘Board Meeting’ and this is an improvement from Timbaland and Magoo’s last collaboration, ‘Under Construction.’
The album features singer/songwriter Keri Hilson on three tracks. Hilson has been writing for artists like Britney Spears, Toni Braxton and Usher, and is due to release a solo CD later this year. However, her vocals on songs like ‘Scream’ are less than impressive. ‘Fantasy’ also features Hilson but it sounds like a weaker version of Ciara’s ‘Promise.’
The first half of the album is filled with hip-hop radio hits but it takes a sudden, noticeable turn on ‘Throw It on Me,’ which features The Hives and is more experimental and less radio-friendly.
Songs like ‘Time,’ featuring She Wants Revenge, almost work in a ‘you-gotta-listen-to-it-a-few-times’ kind of way. ‘Apologize,’ featuring One Republic, might be enjoyable on another album but it feels way too slow and depressing to include here. These songs throw off the album’s consistency and separate it into two distinct parts.
I was expecting Elton John to sing on the last track, ‘2 Man Show,’ but it only showcases his piano skills, along with a Timbaland beat and some choral vocals. Despite this, the song turns out beautifully; Timbaland’s beats start the song and John’s piano responds in a perfectly complementary manner.
Timbaland has reigned over radio since the early ’90s and shows no signs of stepping down after his recent mega-success on Justin Timberlake’s ‘My Love’ and ‘SexyBack.’ There will inevitably be some black sheep on an album like this that has such variety in its collaborations, but it’s reassuring to see that Timbaland is keeping with his innovative style instead of sticking with the ‘SexyBack’ formula just because it works.