Sunday, August 07, 2005

Q. Is The Neptunes' newfound penchant for minimalism a cue taken from Timbaland?

A. Yes! But they're still a lot different. Timbo is working in a pop idiom all right, but I think Neptunes has a more crowd-pleasing, malleable sensibility. That's not a dis--hip-hop is a populist art form, and who can argue with "I'm a Slave 4 U"/"Hot in Herre"/"Drop It Like It's Hot"? Timbaland is not necessarily better for being more obstreperous, but a track like "Pass That Dutch" was so brutally minimal that it had an edge of Metal Machine Music-style confrontation. The Neptunes have indeed borrowed some of Timbaland's minimalism, but everything they make still twinkles.

Also worth remembering that Timbaland produced not only "Get Ur Freak On"/"Big Pimpin'"/"Cry Me a River," but also a lot of flops. He lent his name and production to three terrible albums with Magoo; Bubba Sparxxx's Deliverance was underrated and underperforming; even This is Not a Test! was Missy's worst-selling album since Da Real World. So it's also possible that Timbo is going the way of the RZA, and that he will show up in a few years scoring films or doing something else besides producing rap records.

Now, Saxdrop, please tell me about the pros and cons of CAFTA.


Saxdrop said...

Thanks for the response Rob! I'll have to save free trade agreements for another day.

I just want to make clear, that I didn't want to infer that The Neptunes were embarking on an already well-tread path blazed by Timbo. Just that it seems interesting to think the two hottest and most innovative (if not at least pathbreaking) producers in pop music may have some kind of symbiosis going on. Would it be such a surprise? Weren't they both significant collaborators on Justin Timberlake's album?

I will now have to check out the Jay-Z documentary. Truth be told, the Notorious and 2Pac vignettes never really piqued my interest, but this Jay-Z has insightful written all over it.

Rob said...

Yeah Neptunes & Timbo definitely had a symbiotic relationship, and for a couple of years they had a friendly (as far as I know) competition going for critical & commercial dominance. The Neptunes have pretty much won the latter contest, for now at least, but it feels like they sorta won by forfeit. Which is not nearly as satisfying.