CD: Timbaland, Shock Value

Everyone who's anyone has a track on the hip hop hero's album. But it's his own vocals that sometimes let it down, writes Luke Bainbridge

Shock Value is billed as his second solo album - a belated successor to 1998's Tim's Bio: Life From Da Bassment. In the intervening period, working especially closely with Missy Elliott, he has done as much as anyone to transform the musical landscape - yanking the most radical urban beats into the pop mainstream.

His only rivals might be the Neptunes, but Pharrell Williams tripped up with his underwhelming solo album, In My Mind, last year. No wonder Timbaland brags on his new album's 'Release': 'I think I'm pretty in charge!'

He is, inevitably, fantastically immodest about Shock Value as a whole. 'My mission is to blow up the boundaries and tear down the limits,' he has said. The 36-year- old boy wonder certainly hasn't reined himself in. There are 19 tracks here featuring a staggering 22 guests, including everyone from longtime collaborators Missy and Magoo to Justin and Nelly, as well as the more incongruous Elton John, Hives and new emo superstars Fall Out Boy.

It's an undeniably impressive range of talent and, for the most part, Shock Value pulls off every trick it tries. The dancehall-tinged lead single 'Give it to Me' sees Timbaland reignite his beef with one-time collaborator Scott Storch ('I get a half a mill for my beats, you get a couple grand') while Timberlake apparently turns on Janet Jackson: 'I saw you trying to act cute on TV.' The second Timberlake track, the more uptempo 'Release', is another standout, along with the breathless 'Bounce' (featuring Dr Dre and Missy) and the futuristic disco of 'The Way I Are'. As for the closing 'Come Around', it's arguably the finest thing M.I.A. has ever done.

Elsewhere, however, you can't help question whether Timbaland has the charisma to carry tracks alone, especially when he insists on grunting 'yeah!' and 'huh!' in a manner which grates when it was intended to grind.

His extraordinary talent is not in doubt. He is the man. He just doesn't need to tell us this himself quite so often.

Download'Give it to Me'; 'Release'; 'Come Around'


Luke Bainbridge

The GuardianTramp

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