Timbaland x Yahoo Music Interview, Talks ‘Opera Noir’ & More
Timbaland sat down with Yahoo to talk about his new show The Pop Game and his upcoming album. He is an ideal choice to host The Pop Game, Lifetime’s new music competition series, which is essentially a bootcamp for five aspiring teen artists and their parents. Even though odds are slim that The Pop Game Season 1 will yield music’s next American Idol-style sensation, the superproducer is enjoying the artist-development aspect of the process. “All the people I’ve worked with, they were special,” he tells Yahoo Music.
“But I never got a chance to work with them in the beginning. I’m having fun building and finding out what’s special [with these artists]. That’s something I’ve never experienced, really.” Timbaland can also relate to the contestants. He remembers when he and fellow A-list hitmaker Pharrell Williams were just a couple of high school kids in Virginia Beach, trying to get recognition for their pre-fame group Surrounded by Idiots. “Being from Virginia, we had to go hard to figure out stuff,” he explains.
“We came in the game at a different time, where you had to be great or you wouldn’t get noticed. I wouldn’t get played on the radio if something did not stick out.” Having a distinct sound has been key in Timbaland’s career, and that helped him secure another recent television opportunity: serving as music director for the Fox hip-hop drama series Empire, a role he held for the first two seasons. “I’m a risk-taker,” he says. “I reinvent myself. Empire was a stepping stone. I had other things that I wanted to do in TV and film, and [director] Lee [Daniels] was a great mentor for me.”
Combining music and film will be a big focus of Timbaland’s next album, the long-anticipated Opera Noir; the producer compares the ambitious project to Prince’s Purple Rain movie and soundtrack. Earlier in its development, Timbaland discussed Opera Noir with Daniels and Epic Records chairman/CEO L.A. Reid, and Daniels gave him some helpful advice. “He’s pointing me in the right direction, so he’s there for me,” Timbaland says. He credits Reid with helping him coin the album’s title. “I played the music for L.A. Reid,” Timbaland says. “He said it sounded like a ‘black opera.’ That’s what it is.” The release date is still to be determined.
Unfortunately, Timbaland doesn’t have any updates on the next release from his longtime musical collaborator, Missy Elliott, who recently dropped the hot new single “I’m Better” and announced her first concert since 2008, playing Los Angeles’s FYF Festival this coming July. “Well, that’s on Missy,” he says when asked about the status of new Elliott music. “She’s got to be ready to put that out. When it’s right, it’s right. She knows when it’s right.” Timbaland understands. It’s been seven years since he released his last solo album, 2009’s Shock Value II, and he won’t release Opera Noir until he feels it’s ready. In the meantime, The Pop Game airs on Lifetime Fridays, at 11 p.m./10 p.m. central.