Timbaland x USAToday.Com Interview
By Greg Presto. If anyone could get a March Madness crowd hyped, it’s Timbaland. The legendary rapper and producer has created high-energy, chart-topping hits for Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott, and scores of other artists. The Virginia native spoke with For the Win about pump-up music, “One Shining Moment,” and offered his NCAA tournament picks while promoting Frigo Revolutionwear, a high-end underwear company with investors including Derek Jeter and Carmelo Anthony. His bracket is, sadly, busted: He chose Virginia to win it all.
What song would you use to pump up a basketball crowd?
The type of music I would play to get a crowd amped up is something that, especially in sports, something that has the anthem and movement of the beat. The beat has to be very energetic. [I’d choose] a song from a long time ago that would get the crowd going— it’s a song called “Drop.” I think that song would be perfect for basketball because it has that energy.
Timbaland & Magoo - Drop feat. Fatman Scoop (01')
As a performer, do you feed off that energy and the emotion of the crowd the way athletes do?
You can feed off the emotion of the crowd, but sometimes you feed off of just the energy of the song itself. Sometimes the song has to draw you so you can draw the crowd. But sometimes after awhile you don’t want to pay attention to the crowd, like in sports, because it can be a little bit distracting, even though they screaming for you, you just want to be in your zone. And the same thing on stage.
If you were writing a song to replace “One Shining Moment,” what would you call it?
If I had to pull a song it would be “Glory” by Common and (John) Legend, if I have to pull that could speak for all the emotions of that moment. And that’s the first thing I would think about if I was writing the title, I would be like, “I gotta beat ‘Glory.’” Because glory says it all. And I think my title would probably be “What a Phenomenon.”
Is there an athlete out there that you would love to work with as an artist, that you think would make a good artist?
If I’m looking at the swag and the whole demeanor and everything about them I would have to say J.R. Smith. He got that artist swag. He got that and I can’t describe it, I just know what he’s got.
How has matching songs to the show on “Empire” been different than what you’re normally up to?
I know what I can bring to TV and to movies everything from soundtracks that I’ve done and all the movies I’ve done with Aaliyah, all my soundtracks have been hits. The way I envision music is like a movie. That’s my key. So to do a TV show first starting up, this was great. This is what I do. Now that I know and I got my feet wetted, I now have so much more because I have so many ideas and so much, so much oozin’ out of me that I didn’t get to get it all out.
You’ve worked with lots of stars, but what about some of the biggest stars of the past—what would you have done with Sinatra or Elvis?
I react off of greatness. That’s what greatness does, what they call it? Iron shopping iron, steel shopping steel. That’s what we’d be doing. I call us Jedis. He’s a Jedi, I’m a Jedi. How we make the force be as one. Somebody got to compromise. And that would be me because he’s an artist, I’m a producer. An artist, a real true artist, goes farther than the producer. Nine out of ten. That’s why you have the Jay-Zs, the Beyonces of the world. Their vision is, they’re gonna drive your music beyond what you ever thought it could be. That’s what makes them special. So when they’re special you have to kind of follow their lead, and then throw in your expertise. So that’s how it would work with Frank and Elvis.