LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Timbaland is gearing up for an all-nighter. It’s late afternoon on the Friday kickoff to the Presidents’ Day weekend. While traffic buzzes past Los Angeles’ Chalice Recording Studio, the producer (born Timothy Mosley) is inside fighting allergies — and fast approaching deadlines to finish his solo album, “Shock Value.”
Also factored into his tight schedule: a flight to Buffalo, N.Y., the next day to resume his special guest stint on Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow World Tour. “This is fun to the 10th power,” Timbaland says.
Due March 27, “Shock Value” (Mosley Music Group/Blackground/Interscope) signals Timbaland’s re-entry into the producer-as-artist club. It’s a club whose clientele — Jermaine Dupri, Kanye West, Pharrell, Diddy, to name a few — have met with varying degrees of success.
This is Timbaland’s second solo album. Before his first, “Tim’s Bio,” was released in 1998, he teamed with Magoo on three albums: “Welcome to Our World,” “Indecent Proposal” and “Under Construction, Pt. II.”
Magoo is among the guest stars on “Shock Value,” whose diverse lineup includes Elton John, Jay-Z and the Hives as well as Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. and Fall Out Boy. Lead single “Give It to Me,” currently No. 79 on the Billboard Hot 100, features Nelly Furtado and Timberlake.
Timbaland’s production on the latter two artists’ 2006 albums (including the chart-topping singles “Promiscuous” and recent Grammy Award winner “SexyBack,” respectively) spurred a career renaissance for the producer after earlier hit collaborations with Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Ginuwine and Jay-Z.
Timbaland took time to talk about his comeback, “Shock Value” and his future plans.
Q: In a 2001 Billboard interview, you said you wouldn’t record another solo album as an artist. What prompted you to make the producer-to-artist transition again?
A: I had some of this album in mind before I hit with Justin and Nelly. But Justin solidified it for me. He said I needed to do something for myself.
I’ve never been this anticipated in my whole life when it comes to my own record. It’s like a Jay-Z, Kanye West or Young Jeezy. But I’d really rather people like me as an entertainer versus an artist. I just like to entertain.
Q: How would you describe “Shock Value?”
A: The songs are matched up like a story, taking you through different emotions. It flows like a movie with different parts: horror, comedy and drama. My mission is to blow up boundaries, taking my music outside the box. It will shock the system.
Q: Speaking of outside the box, you work with a diverse guest lineup.
A: I worked with a lot of people who I normally wouldn’t work such as Elton John, Fall Out Boy and the Hives.
Q: Did they come to you first or did you reach out first?
A: They wanted to work with me on their records and I said, “I’m doing an album too and I’d like you to be on my project.”
The Hives were in Sweden so I sent the material to them. But I was in the studio with everyone else and we had a great experience. I should have taken pictures, but I’m really not into that. I just enjoyed the moment and the music we did together.
Q: Do you plan to do another solo album?
A: If the fans want me to do another one. I’ll do “Shock Value, Part II.” I want the fans to tell me who they want to see me with and I’ll try to accommodate them. Maybe I’ll take a tally on the Internet to see which artists they’d like.
Q: After your success with Aaliyah, Missy and others, you took a timeout. Was that a conscious decision?
A: It’s more that I got tired of people. I wanted to train and lose all the weight I had gained. And I knew I wanted to do something different musically. I got criticized for that. Labels wouldn’t give me a shot. They were saying, “He’s lost it; he’s over.”
That’s why I’m talking so cocky now. I got tired of people smiling in my face and then talking behind my back.
Greatness can never be over because you can lay it down for a minute. If you’re able to bring something else and keep up with the times, I mean, how can you stop it? I’m humble but I’ll still call people out. You have to.
You have a job like I have a job and you shouldn’t put me down because I’m not doing what you think I should. It hurts when people put you down. But I came back with a vengeance.
Q: Was teaming again with Timberlake a calculated move?
A: It just fell into place. When we did “Good Foot” for the “Shark Tale” soundtrack, he wasn’t himself. People were talking bad about him after (the 2004 Super Bowl “costume malfunction” with) Janet Jackson. He also didn’t like how he was sounding so he started doing movies. I boosted him up, saying, “Don’t think that way; I’m here for you. Let’s go back and do this.”
We both got our confidence back at the same time, and that makes a lot of difference. We knocked the negativity out and surrounded ourselves with positive stuff. We just keep it moving.
Q: Why do you think you’re clicking right now?
A: It’s prayer. I had a lot of people praying for me. They saw me in my crisis stage when stuff was just going downhill for me. I’d do something, it wouldn’t work and I couldn’t understand why. But I kept my faith and belief in God.
I didn’t have a plan. I was in a cool place and Nelly was in a great place, and it worked. The same way with Justin. And the same thing now with my record.
I do music for the fans. I want to lift fans up. That’s why “Shock Value” talks so much about me being just like you. That’s why I come here dressed in a T-shirt, sweat pants and house shoes. I don’t come here trying to be Hollywood. I try to be as normal as I can. Money doesn’t make me a man.
People will tell me they’re surprised I would even talk to them, which is funny to me. I tell them I’m blessed to have a nice job but I also tell them: You can fire me from that job. All you have to say is, “We’re tired and don’t like that sound anymore.”
Q: Is there a Timbaland sound?
A: I’m made of lots of sounds. I have different flavors that I can pick and choose from with an artist. It’s like a candy shop.
Most producers don’t or can’t do that, and that’s why they stick to hip-hop. I don’t just do one genre. I bring in that hardcore beat and put it with other music. It could be country or rock. And I’m really inspired by Indian music. I just love music.
Q: Who do you want to work with that would surprise people?
A: The Rolling Stones because they make classic records, and I need one of those classic, Titanic records. I also want to work with Sade. And for personal reasons I’d like to work again with Ginuwine.
Q: How do you go about balancing your vision with that of the artist’s?
A: I always sit down first and talk with the artist so I can get to know his or her personality. Then we come together and do music. We don’t think about it. We just do it until it sounds good.