Timbaland and Magoo

Though Timbaland is one of the most respected and sucessful hiphop producers working today (the best, I’d argue) the albums he has released under his own name, in collaboration with Magoo, have never sold very well, or been much talked about. Partly because Magoo is poorly regarded as an MC (he’s not great, but in my opinion, he’s at least OK), and partly because – I’m not quite sure, actually. But Timbaland and Magoo’s latest CD, Under Construction Part II, is a superb album, even if nobody buys it. Admittedly it’s not all that interesting vocally and verbally – the lyrics (mostly sex, some drugs, some romantic loss, a reasonable amount of boasting, but very little self-congratulatory thuggery) are nothing we haven’t heard before. But the beats and arrangements are great. The album is fairly relaxed and laid back, but at the same time very sharp and rhythmically active. Timbaland’s arrangements are clean, fairly minimal, and always surprising: the synthesized percussion crackles, and some sort of odd timbre or melodic line is always being dropped just where you don’t expect it. Every song has its own profile and its own surprises. The album works very well as a shifting series of moods, as one or another facet of Timbaland’s expressive artistry comes into focus. (For a very different take on this album, see Sasha Freire-Jones’ comments).

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