Grammy Award winning producer, rapper, songwriter, and composer Timbaland shares his experience in the music business for two decades in The Emperor of Sound: A Memoir. He discusses his past home life in New York, his musical inspirations, the major setbacks he overcame, his numerous collaborations with past and current music icons such as Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry, the innovative process to create new music, and his new role as an executive music producer.
For those of you who think you haven’t heard of Timbaland, trust me, you have. MTV.com states that Timbaland has been involved in pop since the late 90s and is still coming out with new hits. The most iconic hits that he created in the late 90s include “The Rain” with Missy Elliot, “If Your Girl Only Knew” with Aaliyah, “Pony” with Ginuwine, and “Big Pimpin” with Jay-Z. At the turn of the century, Timbaland was creating a legendary sound of heavy bass beats and high-end synthesizers for a wide range of genres like rap, pop, R&B, and hip-hop. With chart topping singles like “Cry Me a River” with Justin Timberlake, “Promiscuous Girl” with Nelly Furtado, and “Apologize” with One Republic, it’s no surprise that Timbaland is recognized as one the most well-known music producers of this decade. According to the website Hip Hop 87, Timbaland has more top-10 hits than Elvis or The Beatles.
Readers will learn about his life growing up, his musical inspiration, and tragedies that he faced. Timbaland writes about his traumatic experience as a teenager when he was accidentally shot by someone who was aiming for another kitchen employee at Red Lobster. The shot caused him to lose the use of his left arm for seven months, but that didn’t stop him from DJ’ing. He improvised and used his shoulder to scratch the records. Timbaland also talks about his high school band called Surrounded by Idiots where he was the DJ, and mega-star Pharrell was one of the rappers.
Timbaland has a wide range of musical influences from big names like Rick James, Queen, Prince as a kid, and Rod Stewart. When Timbaland writes about Stewart’s big hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” he claims that the instrumentation in the song is phenomenal.
Timbaland claims that he ended up finding his sound through the inspiration of physically distorted records. Timbaland mentions in his memoir that, “If you leave a record out in the sun it will warp. It’s going to have a strange, distorted sound. I love that sound and I started making beats with that vibe. I was thinking, warp it a little, when I added belching synthesizers to the beat I was working on.”
A major tragedy that occurred in the peak of Timbaland’s career was when R&B singer Aaliyah died from a plane crash in 2001. Timbaland produced half of 1996’s One in a Million and three songs from 2001’s Aaliyah. Timbaland claims that her death put him through a dark time in his life, but reminded 90.9 WBUR Boston’s NPR News Station, “Don’t give up. Everything is in God’s time and not your time.”
This book will prove that Timbaland’s collaboration and originality makes him a major contributor to the music industry. Almost every mainstream rapper and hip hop artists has worked with Timbaland. Over the years, Timbaland has worked with Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Madonna, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, and Nas. He has also worked with alternative bands like Bjork and M.I.A., and pop/rockers like The Fray and Ashlee Simpson.
Timbaland’s individuality and eccentric production style is what makes him stand out from the music producing crowd. He has never taken samples of songs from past musicians like most producers, and his productions have been known to have stuttering bass and a quiet murmuring underneath the track.
Not only will readers learn about Timbaland’s music experiences, but will also be introduced to his new television career. Timbaland is now trying something a little different by getting involved with television, as he is now the executive music producer for popular FOX Series Empire. Timbaland claims that it’s like going to school, because you are learning about a whole other side of the business.
For those of you who were a kid or a teenager in the 2000s and listened to pop, hip-hop, and R&B, this memoir will be a nostalgic blast from the music past. Rolling Stone says, “The open-minded, genre-hybrid approach that dominates contemporary production would be hard to imagine without Timbaland’s example.” This memoir explores his musical journey and the musical empire that he created through an understanding of what he calls “the science of hearing.”