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 Timbaland's rocking to a tune only he can hear ...



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 "Let me explain something to America: Money don't make you happy." ...



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 "I guess when you be here [in Virginia], you create your own musical world." ...



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 Some vocalizing candidates for the VA Hip-Hop Hall of Fame ...





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"S.B.I. — Surrounded by Idiots" he said of the group's name. "We basically were a bunch of idiots but we turned out to be superstars. It was a great feeling, 'cause we didn't have no hope of getting no deal. We just loved music, so that kept our drive going. Pharrell is more like a ... " he pauses. "He has a mind power to do certain things and I have a mind power to do certain things, so if we was to be under the same umbrella, we probably would clash because he's such a demanding person and I'm such a demanding person. It would be like, 'No, Pharrell, I'm telling you.' And he would be like, 'Nah, Tim, I'm telling you,' and we would get mad at each other."

The adolescent bickering never got serious enough to jeopardize their friendship. In fact, it was Timbo who told his good friend Jay-Z to give the Neptunes a shot — a connection that ultimately lofted both Timbaland and the Neptunes into super-producer and arguably superstar status.

But even though he's been making hits for more than a decade and has handful of albums under his belt (both solo and with Magoo), we've never seen the Timbo we're seeing today. Through the years, he hasn't exactly been a publicity hound and, he admits, when journalists labeled him "grumpy," they weren't far off the mark.

But Tim's been evolving over the past couple of years. And in 2006 the world definitely witnessed his rebirth: His records showed even more different sounds; physically, he sculpted himself to be a hunk; his demeanor was even different.

"I wake up in the morning now and I'm like, 'This is really not me,' " he says. "I look the same, my music sounds the same ... I don't know, when I first lost 50 pounds, that's when I did a whole slew of beats. I was like, 'Wow, where's this coming from?'

"You know, at one point in time I thought I was gonna lose my mind," he continues, reflecting on a cold streak — for him, anyway — that occurred around 2004 and 2005, not long after he moved to Miami. " 'Cause I really don't ... like, I really think about Kurt Cobain and why he killed himself. Not that I thought like that, but little thoughts, you know, not normal thoughts will come into my mind. And people were like, 'Well, if you have money ...' Let me explain something to America: Money don't make you happy. If you don't have prayer and a relationship with God, you're just not going to make it. You turn to other stuff — a lot of drugs and stuff like that. And by me doing none of that, it was hard. I was by myself, everybody said I was falling off; I was cold."

Tim reflects on whether or not he was depressed.

"Yeah, I think I was," he says. "Maybe I just felt like [all the music] I was doing wasn't hitting. It was hitting to me. But to the world ... I'm telling you, man, everybody is going to go through it as a producer. You [can either] have a nervous breakdown or you can fight through it. I ain't afraid to say that I was cold or that I didn't have it at one point in time. What I was doing wasn't satisfying me because I had no confidence. If I don't have no confidence, how am I going to make you confident with my music?"

While working out and a change of attitude made a difference, perhaps a bigger change came when he returned, after almost a decade away, to his real home: VA.

"It's a great feeling," he says of being in his old stomping grounds. He actually records now in the same Virginia studio where made all those hits with Missy Elliott back in the day. "I mean, now I live in Miami, but I come back. I did the Justin album here, I did half of Nelly's album here and now I'm doing my album here. So I just came back to where it all started because there's nothing to do here, really, but work. I just go to certain places to catch a vibe, to see what's going on within today's society of Virginia since I've been all across the world. I have to, like, come back to the root of it all.

"At one point in time, I thought I was gonna lose my mind" ...
"I don't know what it is about Virginia," he continues. "I mean, to me the funniest thing is, How do you get discovered from this place, because is so off the beat market? It's a blessing to be coming from here and be doing something."

Interestingly, Timbo's old bandmate, Pharrell — who (both with and without Neptune-mate Hugo) has had dozens of hits with Jay-Z, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Gwen Stefani, Slim Thug, Robin Thicke, childhood friends the Clipse and even Britney Spears, and has blossomed into a star and fashion icon in his own right — recently came home to Virginia as well. But Pharrell didn't come back to make beats — he wanted to make a change in the community.


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