Timbaland gets by with a little help from his friends. The super-producer behind some of the most memorable hip-hop tracks in years has brought his whole crew to support him on his first album since 2003, Timbaland Presents: Shock Value. And there are certainly some noteworthy guest appearances.
"Bounce" joins Dr. Dre and Missy Elliot with Justin Timberlake, who intones a slightly ridiculous hook about a menage-a-trois. The track has a menacing, mechanical feel, and though it's not necessarily disappointing as a song, it's definitely not more than the sum of its parts, which is kind of disappointing in itself.
Timberlake makes another appearance on "Give It To Me," the album's first single. He, Nelly Furtado and Timbaland turn in a hypnotic track with slightly robotic-sounding vocals that are entertaining but not nearly as catchy as Furtado's Timbaland-produced single "Promiscuous."
The album opener, "Oh Timbaland" is the only song on the album where Timbaland goes it alone. It begins with frenetic handclaps over an up-tempo piano line and quickly segues into tense percussion and a squelching bass line. But for a good producer such as Timbaland, he has trouble carrying a track by himself. His flow leaves something to be desired, and despite the creative production, the track isn't album-opener material.
Overall, Shock Value is almost more interesting for the novelty of some of the combinations Timbaland puts together than for the merit of the music itself.
Toward the end of the album, there is a string of three tracks, starting with the song "Throw It On Me," that includes some unlikely, rock-centric guest appearances. "Throw It On Me" features The Hives, and with Timbaland giving a twist to a classic Hives' guitar line, it rocks more than anything else on Shock Value. Too bad it's the shortest song on the album.
Timbaland follows "Throw It On Me" with "Time" and "One and Only," the former featuring moody Los Angeles-rockers She Wants Revenge and the latter featuring Fall Out Boy. "Time" sounds like a hip-hop version of Interpol's "Slow Hands," not in the least because the singer from She Wants Revenge sounds uncannily like Interpol singer Paul Banks. "One and Only" sounds strangely like Fall Out Boy's own "Dance, Dance" down to the rhythmic handclaps that permeate the track.
These attempts at bridging the gap between genres are admirable, and if anyone can make it work, Timbaland can. But even he needs a little more practice as these two songs are a little too derivative.
The last song on the album, "2 Man Show," features some jazzy piano played by none other than Elton John — but that's pretty much all it has going for it. It seems inevitable that this album ended up kind of disjointed because of the sheer number of different people present on it. It ends up feeling more like a compilation than a solo album.
Unfortunately, there is nothing on Shock Value that equals the greatness of Timbaland-produced tracks like Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On" or Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." But Timbaland continues to produce standout tracks for other artists, so it is certain that as long as he has a little help from his friends, he'll definitely continue to do more than just get by.