Timbaland Biography

Music producer and rap musician


Born Timothy Z. Mosley, March 10, 1971; son of Garland (an Amtrak employee) and Latrice (ran a homeless shelter) Mosley.

Addresses: Office —Mosley Music Group/Interscope Records, Geffen A & M, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404.


Teamed up with Missy Elliott and Magoo, joined Swing Mob Crew, worked with Surrounded By Idiots, early 1990s. Producer of music, including: Aaliyah's One In A Million , 1996; Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly , 1997; Booty Call (soundtrack), 1997; Dr. Doolittle (soundtrack), 1998; Beck's Mutations , 1998; Ginuwine's 100% Ginuwine , 1999; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (soundtrack), 1999; Elliott's The Real World , 1999; Romeo Must Die (soundtrack), 2000; Snoop Dogg's The Last Meal , 2000; Elliott's Miss E … So Addictive , 2001; Aaliyah , 2001; Tweet's Southern Hummingbird , 2002; Justin Timberlake's Justified , 2002; Elliott's This Is Not a Test , 2003; Alicia Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys , 2003; Brandy's Afrodisiac , 2004; LL Cool J's The DEFinition , 2004; Jennifer Lopez's Rebirth , 2005; Pussycat Dolls' PCD , 2005; Nelly Furtado's Loose , 2006; Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds , 2006; Björk's Volta , 2007; Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad , 2007. Solo album releases include: Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment , 1998; Timbaland Presents Shock Value , 2007.

Awards: Songwriter of the Year Award, ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Award, 2001, 2003; Song of the Summer, Choice R&B/Hip Hop Track, Teen Choice Awards, for Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" (producer and guest artist), 2006; pop single of the year, Billboard Music Awards, 2006; Juno fan choice award, album of the year, pop album of the year, single of the year, Juno Awards, for Furtado's Loose , and the single "Promiscuous," 2007; Grammy Award for best dance recording, Recording Academy, for "SexyBack," 2007; best producer, International Dance Music Award, 2007.


The list of artists that music producer Timbaland has worked with is long and varied. Through his chart-topping collaboration with rapper Missy Elliott, Timbaland introduced a plethora of new sounds to hip-hop that enlivened the genre and launched several careers. Rob Brunner of Entertainment Weekly described Timbaland's signature sound as mixing "uncommonly complex beats with unusual sonic source material." Brian Hiatt explained in an article for Rolling Stone , "He helped create a new hip-hop sound, pushing the music away from soul samples and break beats and toward a synth-heavy, technofied future." Ian Mohr of Daily Variety wrote, "You can tell one of his joints the minute it jumps off. Fearlessly crafting simple sonic pastiches that can include sitars, baby cries, mariachi horns, pan pipes, and harps." Richard Harrington commended Timbaland in a Washington Post article, saying he uses "his turntable wizardry to craft a cool, spacious sound that owes as much to trip-hop and drum 'n' bass as to hip-hop and funk."

Born Timothy Z. Mosley on March 10, 1971, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Garland and Latrice Mosley, Timbaland is the oldest of their two sons. His father was an employee of Amtrak while his mother ran a homeless shelter. His younger brother, Garland, is a rapper who goes by the name Sebastian. Timbaland was highly influenced by the hip-hop scene in Virginia Beach. When he started out he wanted to be a superstar DJ. When he started out deejaying in high school, his moniker at the time was DJ Tiny Tim. In 1986, he was shot during a robbery and was partially paralyzed for nine months. He spent this time learning how to deejay using his left hand.

While still in high school, he partnered with future rap star Missy Elliott and Melvin Barcliff, who goes by the MC name of Magoo, working on songs with them. In the early 1990s, Timbaland, Elliott, and Magoo became members of DeVante Swing's Swing Mob Crew, a touring ensemble of hip-hop, R&B, and rap performers. An experienced producer, Swing mentored Timbaland at this time. Swing was also responsible for giving him the stage name of Timbaland, a mispronunciation of the shoe brand Timberland. Around this same time Timbaland also worked with a group known as Surrounded By Idiots (S.B.I.). In 1991, Timbaland survived a near-fatal car accident that killed his passenger. Lucky to have survived yet another brush with death, Timbaland continued along his trajectory toward fame as a producer and co-writer, especially for Elliott.

By 1995, Elliott and Timbaland left the Swing Mob Crew and struck out on their own. Timbaland produced the debut album for Ginuwine, called Ginuwine … the Bachelor . The album created one of Timbaland's first big hits called "Pony," which made it to number one on the U.S. R&B charts. Many critics note that this song in particular showcases Timbaland's signature sound that would continue to be heard throughout the rest of the decade.

At the same time that he was working on Ginuwine's debut album, Timbaland and Elliott were hired to work with the young R&B singer Aaliyah on her second album, One in a Million . Relatively unknown at the time, Timbaland and Elliott benefited immediately from the album's success. Within a year it had made double-platinum sales. It eventually went on to sell more than three million copies in the United States and produced four hit songs: "One In A Million," "The One I Gave My Heart To," "4 Page Letter," and "Hot Like Fire."

In 1997, Timbaland produced Missy Elliott's solo debut, Supa Dupa Fly . He also had a platinum-selling album with Magoo, Welcome to Our World . One of the songs from the album, "Up Jumps Da Boogie," made it to number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It included guest appearances by Elliott and Aaliyah. Timbaland continued to work with Elliott throughout the 1990s. His most outstanding work was often done in collaboration with her. He produced many other tracks for Elliott including several for her fourth album, released in 2002, Under Construction , and her follow-up album of 2003, This Is Not A Test! .

By 1998, Timbaland's production skills had contributed to the careers of not only Elliott but performers like SWV and their hit "Can We" and Usher with his song "You Make Me Wanna." That same year, he released Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment , his solo album. It made it to number 41 on the Billboard 200 charts. Emboldened by so much success, Timbaland started his own label called Beat Club, which was an imprint of Interscope Records. Interscope's roster of artists includes acts such as 50 Cent, Beck, and Queens of the Stone Age. Timbaland's first release on Beat Club was Dark Days, Bright Nights by white rapper Bubba Sparxxx. The album made its debut at number three on the Billboard Music Charts.

As the 1990s came to an end, Timbaland's credibility in the music business, particularly within the realm of R&B, was at an all-time high. He, along with Elliott, was responsible for the breakthrough debut of R&B singer Tweet, who hit the charts in 2002 with her song, "Oops! (Oh my)." The debut single from her album Southern Hummingbird went to number one on the R&B charts and number seven on the U.S. pop charts. Timbaland produced the popular record while Elliott provided guest vocals. In 2001, Timbaland won the Songwriter of the Year award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In 2003, he was presented with the award for a second time. Rolling Stone writer Toure described how Timbaland works as "crossbreed[ing] hip-hop and R&B into platinum mutations." Toure added, "Tim offers kind, gentle music rooted in sweet, quick beats and R&B tropes tailor-made for those staccato-beat dances that are so popular with the kids. Tim's music won't scare your parents."

Having made his mark with his signature production style on R&B and hip-hop, Timbaland started looking for ways to expand his horizons. At the same time, artists from other genres were starting to take a closer look at what he was doing and started calling on him. One of those artists was Justin Timberlake who was looking for someone to produce his solo album. Timberlake turned to Timbaland for some of the tracks and in 2002 the former member of the boy group 'N Sync released his debut solo album Justified . The album was wildly successful and helped prove that Timbaland's talent could cross over easily into the pop music realm.

In 2005, Timbaland decided to put some of his endless energy into reworking his body. Having reached a weight of more than 300 pounds and subsequently being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, Timbaland felt it was time to make some changes. He took some pointers from LL Cool J, one the fittest rap performers in the business, and hired a personal trainer named Jose Garcia. Timbaland told Patrick Taliaferro of Men's Fitness , "Garcia told me to give him six weeks of my life and I'd definitely see results. All I know is that it worked." By changing his diet, lifting weights, and adding a cardiovascular workout, Timbaland lost 121 pounds; plus, all of his diabetic symptoms disappeared within a year.

Describing his body before his dramatic weight loss, Timbaland told Lori Price of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , "I don't know how I got that big, because I never weighed myself…. I would just go by how clothes fit, and when I couldn't go into the big-and-tall store and buy pants anymore, I knew there was a problem." While Timbaland has been a featured vocalist on dozens of singles, he was rarely seen. With a newfound confidence gained from having lost weight and gotten in shape, he started making appearances in videos and on stage. He traveled in support of Timberlake on the FutureSex/LoveShow tour. He appeared onstage with Nelly Furtado at the 2006 Teen Choice Awards and has appeared with other performers on stage and television, including the pop group the Pussycat Dolls.

In 2006, Timbaland formed another record label after his Beat Club label was closed down. The first release for Mosley Music Group was Loose , the third album by Furtado. The album made it to number one on the U.S. album charts. Also in 2006, he produced tracks for the idiosyncratic Icelandic rock star, Björk. He worked on a total of six tracks, three of which appeared on her sixth album, Volta: "Earth Intruders," "Innocence," and "Hope." Discussing his work with Björk he told Angus Batey of the Guardian , "You gotta hear it! A lot of people think it's weird her working with me, but I think it's how she sings on top of my beats that make[s] it [work]." Although his collaboration with Björk is unlikely to yield any platinum records or reach the popularity of a Timberlake album, it does show that Timbaland is committed to continually work outside the box.

Timbaland discussed his goal as producer when working with recording artists to the Guardian 's Batey, "When you're working with somebody, you're just trying to create something, to see if it does work." He went on further to explain how his collaboration with Timberlake is different, "Me and Justin is different: It's not work, it's magic. Magic is when you just don't think about it: You go in there and the magic is so strong and it just comes out. The magic, the combination, is so powerful you don't have to think about it." In 2006, Timbaland and Timberlake worked together on the latter's sophomore effort, FutureSex/LoveSounds . The immensely popular record includes the single "Sexy-Back," on which Timbaland makes a guest appearance. In 2007, Timbaland won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for Timberlake's "SexyBack". Continuing to make magic with Timberlake, Timbaland teamed up with him to work on the 2007 album by pop group Duran Duran.

In 2007, Timbaland released a solo album titled Timbaland Presents Shock Value . Pulling influences from soul, hip-hop, and reggae, Timbaland shared billing on the album with a multitude of collaborators. These include pop stars like Elton John, Timberlake, and Furtado, and rap stars such as 50 Cent and Jay-Z. When describing the album, Timbaland explained to Chris Lee of the Los Angeles Times , "I structured the album like a movie…. I put it together in a way that makes it different." He also collaborated with popular rock bands the Hives, She Wants Revenge, and Fall Out Boy.

The premiere of his video "Throw It On Me," was shown on Monday Night RAW, which is a show dedicated to professional wrestling. Several stars of women's wrestling appear in the video so it was fitting to have it premiere on the main program associated with World Wrestling Entertainment. The song and video also include an appearance by the Hives.

Showing that his aspirations reach even further, in 2007 Timbaland partnered with Rockstar Games on their Beaterator game that combines original music and rhythm games along with being an instrument. Timbaland also showed his political side that year when he hosted a fund-raising event in Miami for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. When talking about hip-hop with Rolling Stone 's Hiatt, Timbaland voiced his criticism of the current scene, "Everybody's just doing the same old same old, and nobody wants to try nothin' new." It's evident from his unique sound and his willingness to work with a broad range of artists, that Timbaland will always be trying something new.

Selected discography

      (With Magoo) 
        Welcome to Our World
      , Atlantic/Q Records, 1997.
Tim's Bio: Life From da Bassment , Atlantic Records/Q, 1998.
(With Magoo) Indecent Proposal , Umvd Labels, 2001.
Under Construction Part II , Umvd Labels, 2003.
Timbaland Presents Shock Value , Interscope Records, 2007.

As producer/co-producer

        One in a Million
      , Atlantic/Q Records, 1996.
Ginuwine, Ginuwine … The Bachelor , Sony, 1996.
Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly , East/West Records, 1997.
Playa, Cheers to You , Def Jam, 1998.
Ginuwine, 100% Ginuwine , Sony, 1999.
Missy Elliott, Da Real World , Elektra/WEA, 1999.
Missy Elliott, Miss E … So Addictive , Elektra/WEA, 2001.
Aaliyah, Aaliyah , Virgin Records US, 2001.
Bubba Sparxxx, Dark Days, Bright Nights , Beat Club/Interscope Records, 2001.
Tweet, Southern Hummingbird , Elektra/WEA, 2002.
Ms. Jade, Girl Interrupted , Interscope Records, 2002.
Justin Timberlake, Justified , Jive, 2002.
Missy Elliott, Under Construction , Elektra/WEA, 2002.
Bubba Sparxxx, Deliverance , Interscope Records, 2003.
Missy Elliott, This Is Not a Test , Elektra/WEA, 2003.
Brandy, Afrodisiac , Atlantic/WEA, 2004.
LL Cool J, The DEFinition , Def Jam, 2004.
Nelly Furtado, Loose , Mosley Music/Geffen Records, 2006.
Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds , Jive, 2006.
Björk, Volta , Atlantic/WEA, 2007.


Billboard , January 13, 2001, p. 43.

Daily Variety , August 31, 2006, p. A6.

Entertainment Weekly , November 20, 1998, p. 125; March 30, 2007, pp. 40-46.

Guardian (London, England), August 8, 2006, p. 22.

Los Angeles Times , April 8, 2007, p. F13.

Men's Fitness , September 1, 2006, p. 44.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , August 24, 2005, p. E2.

Rolling Stone , December 10, 1998, p. 120; October 5, 2006, p. 18.

Washington Post , February 25, 1998, p. D7.

Wireless News , March 17, 2007, p. 1.

Also read article about Timbaland from Wikipedia

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