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10 gems we learned from Timbaland's "Drink Champs" interview

Preezy Brown

 // Nov 23, 2018

Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV's "Drink Champs," which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly "Drink Champs" episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.


Last night, the latest episode of Drink Champs aired on REVOLT TV, with legendary producer Timbaland paying Noreaga and DJ EFN a visit to take a quick trip down memory lane. Emerging alongside Missy Elliott during the latter half of the 90s, Timbaland is responsible for some of the biggest hits from that era, earning production credits on albums like Aaliyah's One in a Million, Ginuwine's The Bachelor, Missy Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly, and his and partner Magoo's 1997 debut, Welcome to Our World. Building off that success, Timbo's production prowess beckoned the call of some of the biggest stars in pop, with Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, The Pussycat Dolls, Danity Kane, Rihanna and Madonna all seeking out his services. However, Timbaland has never strayed too far from the rap scene, boasting a resume that includes collaborations with JAY-Z, Drake, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Jeezy, Nas, The LOX and other icons. From looking back on the genesis of his journey in the music industry to giving the backstory behind some of his biggest collaborations to date, Timbaland makes his first appearance on Drink Champs a memorable one, giving fans insight into the career of one of the greatest producers of all-time.

To help give the fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT TV compiled a list of 10 things we learned from Timbaland's episode of Drink Champs that the average fan never knew.

1 | Timbaland got his start in music as a beat-boxer and DJ

Prior to making it big as a producer, Timbaland's first foray into music was as a beat-boxer and DJ, which the legendary beatsmith revealed during his sit down. "I think it was a contest; it was back in Virginia at this place called Stars, if I can remember," Timbo recalls. "Then I was beating-boxing, I always thought it was okay, but then my main passion back then was Djing. And how I got into making beats is the music. You know like every season you got a drought season where it's just like the music you ain't like, you ain't feeling, so I'm like, 'let me just make a beat.' And then my mom bought this Casio keyboard; you only could sample one second, so [I thought,] 'let me try to make it a beat so I can blend my records to.' So you had to be creative back then."

2 | How he got introduced to Missy Elliott

Missy and Timbaland are regarded as one of the most pivotal duos hip hop and R&B has ever seen, with a countless amount of classics to their name. According to Timbaland, it was Missy who helped him bridge the gap between the two genres, prior to the explosion of hip hop soul. "A friend of mine introduced me to Missy and told Missy that she needed to meet me," Timbaland says. "And Missy came to my house, we started doing music. I was just doing music and she was like, 'He make dope beats.' She introduced me to singing over hip hop beats, 'cause when she was singing, I'm like, 'I ain't ever heard that before.' I never heard melodies over the music I was making and she introduced my ears to something like new candy."

3 | How "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)" was created

One artist that has benefitted from Timbaland's production is JAY-Z, with the pair cooking up some of the biggest hits in rap over the past two decades. However, the first of the batch was "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)," which Timbaland claims was created within minutes. "I saw JAY-Z at a party, he was like, 'Yo, I wanna work with you,' and the first song we did was 'Jigga What,'" Timbaland shares. "And I did this beat and he was like, 'Nah, that ain't it.' So he spit the rap [that was] in his head and I said, 'Oh?' So I put my headphones on and he was like, 'You done?' See, back then, there wasn't no clicking. There wasn't no computers, it was me actually playing, feeling it. So I was playing it and then he was like, 'You done?' and I was like, 'Yeah, that's five minutes.' 'Cause, you know, it's a keyboard, so you like, 'There ain't no way you done.' So he was walking around, spitting, I played it and he did his rap. I heard his cadence and I made that beat to bounce to what I heard. I have a photographic memory when it comes to sounds and sonics and melodies, so with music, I can kinda memorize anything."

4 | The secret to his success with Justin Timberlake

During the early aughts, Timbaland's work with Justin Timberlake on the crooner's first two solo studio albums marked the producer's full-fledged dive into the world of pop, and manifested into a close friendship between the two that Timbo credits as the formula to their success. "It was evolution, man," Timbaland says of him and Timberlake's growth as creatives. "Like we had just evolved, we couldn't just be one thing. He was dope and sometimes God aligns things the way they need to be aligned, and him—we brothers and we got chemistry, we just got chemistry. Chemistry can only be...how can I say it? You can tell when a person, if we out of sync. Meaning like, if I got stuff going on in my life, he got stuff going on in his life, we love music but the music ain't gonna come out right. Everything that's on our outside is on the outside and when me and Just' see each other, it's 'let's put our foot on niggas' throats,' you know? 'Let's just make this crazy music.'"

5 | What sparked his beef with Scott Storch

Throughout the course of his career, Timbaland has found himself at odds with a number of producers, among the more notorious spats being his war of words with contemporary and former collaborator Scott Storch. Infamously referring to Storch as "just a piano man," Timbaland attributes the beef to miscommunication, admitting that his own insecurity at the time played a part in their beef. "I think it was the entourage telling [me], 'Oh, I heard' and I'm already probably like, 'Why everybody going to Scott Storch [for beats]?,' you know what I'm saying? That's a part of jealousy." Timbaland adds that Storch's meteoric rise even affected his own clientele, with artists actively seeking out Storch's production talents in favor of his own. "It's always a moment when you're not on fire as you do it, and I can tell you a prime example, because when Scott was on fire, it was artists in my session and when Scott pulled up, they left to go to his session." However, Timbaland, who says he and Storch have patched up their differences and moved forward, took the situation as a learning experience and one to grow on. "You have to realize that, that's just humans," Timbaland tells Noreaga and DJ EFN. "We're gonna always flock to what others say is great and kinda throw us off balance. And what I've learned is you gotta stay true to who you are. Don't let that throw you off your game because there's always gonna be the next man on the block, the next person on the block. You can't run things and be the guy that everyone goes to; there's always a new sound. And what happens is when everybody go to you, you thinking you the only one and that's what got in my head."

6 | Why Timbaland compares Drake to Black Panther

During Drake's climb up the rap food chain, Timbaland featured the Toronto native on his 2009 single, "Say Something," one of the Drizzy's first high-profile guest spots. When asked about his feelings regarding the backlash Drake received in the wake of ghostwriting rumors, Timbo compared Drake to Black Panther, in terms of his popularity and dominance. "He's like the equivalent to Black Panther, he came in out of nowhere, so he was already in the build to where he was gonna be," Timbaland offers. "So you ask me the question of why they tripping—'cause he's the next biggest thing. How many times they trip on JAY-Z? It's just the topic of ghostwriting and all that, but music is music. I don't know, I guess I'm not a rapper and I can't really... I look at rappers like movie characters, like who's the next character? To me, he's the next Black Panther."

7 | Timbaland credits DeVante Swing with helping him form the nucleus of his team

Timbaland's first big break in the music industry came under the tutelage of Jodeci member and producer DeVante Swing, who inducted Timbo, Missy, and future stars like Ginuwine and Static Major into his Swing Mob crew. However, upon Timbaland's departure from the Swing Mob, he would team up with his former crew members, taking them under his wing and creating some of the biggest hits in rap and R&B of the past two decades. "He met Ginuwine the same way, through a concert, so Devante actually built my crew," Timbaland reveals. "Think about it, I had Static before Static died. Static Major, who wrote 'Lollipop' for Lil Wayne. He wrote 'Try Again' [for Aaliyah]. It's funny how God work, 'cause Devante built a crew for himself, but it was actually for me, when you think about it, 'cause he didn't work with none of them; it was me. But he found all the talent for me."

8 | His take on his beat battle with Swizz Beatz

This past June, Timbaland engaged in sonic warfare with Swizz Beatz at Hot 97's Annual Summer Jam Concert, a spectacle that captured the attention of the entire rap world. While many pegged the showdown as a battle, Timbaland insists that the back-and-forth was less competitive and more of a testament of their respective places within the pantheon of great rap producers. "Me and Swizz look at it like this: it's not a battle, it's a reminder. Don't ever forget who we are. It's Swizz Beatz. What people might have doubted, [like,] 'Oh, he ain't got nothing' or 'Timbo got this'—nah, I'm on stage with my friend. He's my friend, we have just as much accolades; it's me. So when we play songs back to back, it gave people a reminder. I don't think people knew how to judge it, it wasn't no judge. People was like, 'Damn, he played that Beyonce, I forgot he did that Beyonce.' It was more of a reminder: do not play with the game of thrones, you know what I'm saying? We can go all night."

9 | How he first met Aaliyah

Aside from Missy, one of the first artists to benefit from Timbaland's midas touch was R&B legend Aaliyah, whom Timbo worked with on her sophomore album One in A Million, sparking a creative partnership that would last until her untimely death in 2001. Timbaland remembers his first encounters with Aaliyah, which he credits his lawyer Louise West, as well as music executive Craig Kallman, for helping to facilitate. "I had a sound, he introduced us, made the link, but it was Louise that gave Craig the demo of me and Missy to play for Aaliyah that Aaliyah liked." Furthermore, Timbaland also recalls that two of the biggest hits from One in a Million were both created in that very first sessions. "Our first session, we did records, but then out of that first session came 'One in a Million,' and then [out of] the second session came 'If Your Girl Only Knew.'"

10 | "Big Pimpin'" was originally intended for Timbaland & Magoo

Out of JAY-Z's laundry list of classic records, "Big Pimpin'" rates as one of the most ubiquitous and is remembered as a snapshot of the debauchery that defined rap during the late 90s and early aughts. However, according to Timbaland, that particular beat was never meant to get in the hands of Hov, but divine intervention caused him to have a change of heart. "That was a track I was saving for Tim & Magoo," Timbaland reveals. "Me being sharp, 'cause I think I'm very sharp. I was on my sharpness, right? And I was like, 'This shit bigger than me, this shit bigger than you.'" He was about to leave the studio, I told him, 'Hey man, I got this beat I wanna play you.' I'm like, 'I don't wanna play the beat for you, but I know it's for you, so I'ma play it.' So I play it, he take off his jacket, "Hip-Hop" [Joshua Kyambo] take off his jacket and they're like, 'Oh my God.'" Timbaland also says that unlike other JAY-Z songs, the creation of "Big Pimpin'" was a drawn-out process, which he attributes to its seismic success, in spite of the legal ramifications that came along with it. "No, that track, JAY took time with that track. He ain't do this like how JAY-Z do it. He took his time with that record and you can tell, because look at what it sold. We even got sued over the shit."


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