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 'My dad was like, 'Enjoy your life. Enjoy what you've worked so hard for.' ' ...



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 The tough lessons Justin learned from his relationship with Britney ...





 JT dishes on new tracks and the Super Bowl incident in these video clips


 Live Report: Justin Previews New LP At 'Sexy' Hollywood Show


 Photos: Justin Timberlake Live In London, 07.13.2006


 Vote for your favorite artists on the official VMA site


 "All Eyes On Christina Aguilera"
From the new kid to an old soul, the singer comes of age



 "All Eyes On Beyoncé"
Beyoncé candidly talks about her ultimate B'Day wishes





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— by Corey Moss, with reporting by John Norris

In the fall of 2002, Justin Timberlake was on top of the world. Justified, his debut solo album — a project he'd been dreaming up for years — was a smash with record-buyers and critics alike. Respect from his peers was pouring in. And his strongest singles, "Cry Me a River" and "Rock Your Body," were still yet to come. So why then was he secretly miserable?

"I remember the feeling I had putting Justified out and saying to myself, 'Yeah, I sing R&B,' " recalls the singer, perched in a comfortable chair at Providence, a former church-turned-New York restaurant. "I was so excited to be considered an R&B artist. And then reviews came in — and I was thankful that the reviews were mediocre to good — but they were all under the pop-album category and that really messed with me. For the first three months that my album was out, I couldn't enjoy it because I was like, 'Man, I just want to get away from pop. I just want to do R&B.' It's what I grew up listening to."

All Eyes On: Justin Timberlake

See Justin dish on sexy new tracks; how he should have handled the Super Bowl incident and much more.


Eventually, Timberlake got over his own ego (his words, not ours) and took Justified on a two-year journey that clearly established the singer as a superstar outside of 'NSYNC.

"It's important to try something and to go for something, but it's also important to be humble to what everybody perceives you as," explains Justin, sporting a soft purple collared shirt and black V-neck three-quarter-sleeve sweater. With that lesson learned, he embarked on his sophomore record, FutureSex/LoveSounds. "I think in [accepting that], it opened me up to the writing and creating of this new album. I said, 'OK, well I'm not an R&B artist, I'm a pop artist, so I'm just going to go wherever I want to go.' "

However, he wasn't entirely sure where that was. For the first time in his musical career, Timberlake's next move wasn't obvious to him.

Fans are familiar with Justin's mother Lynn Harless, who has worked closely with her son. But this is where his father, Randall Timberlake — a choir director at a Baptist church in Memphis — came in.

"I was having a conversation with my dad and he's like, 'You're a workaholic. And take it from me, I'm almost 50, do the things that you can do while you are in your 20s. Enjoy your life. Enjoy what you've worked so hard for,' " Timberlake remembers. "And it took me a second to really grasp it, because the thing that I cared about most was work — music — and I had done it for 10 years. Longer than that if you count ['The Mickey Mouse Club'] when I was a kid. So the first month I was like, 'I'll try that out,' 'cause my dad is pretty wise. And it was really tough for me 'cause I felt like, 'Man, I'm never going to be able to get back to where I was.'

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"And then as three or four months went by," he continues, "I started to enjoy having that seclusion. I felt like you start to see the things that you're missing. And I had performed my songs so much that I'd isolated myself. You go to the venue, you do the show, you get on a bus, you go to the venue, and it feels like 'Groundhog Day.' And so, when I started to really breathe for a second, I was like, 'Wow.' And in return, I became a fan again. And I started to listen to a lot more music."

The break didn't last long, as Timberlake began signing on to feature films. But it was a two-year hiatus from music — and perhaps just as importantly, an attempt to get away from the media.

The latter couldn't have come at a better time. Not only had he just started a high-profile relationship with actress Cameron Diaz, but he was coming off a PR disaster in his now-infamous Super Bowl performance with Janet Jackson. Justin apologized immediately, but some felt he shifted the blame solely to Jackson, whose breast he exposed as he sang, "I'll have you naked by the end of this song."

"In my honest opinion now ... I could've handled it better," Justin admits. "I'm part of a community that consider themselves artists. And if there was something I could have done in her defense that was more than I realized then, I would have. But the other half of me was like, 'Wow. We still haven't found the weapons of mass destruction and everybody cares about this!' "

In retrospect, Timberlake thinks he should have been held more responsible. "I probably got 10 percent of the blame, and that says something about society," he explains. "I think that America's harsher on women. And I think that America is, you know, unfairly harsh on ethnic people."

Early in the hiatus, Timberlake was constantly being photographed with Diaz, whether they were canoodling (the tabloids' word, not ours) around Los Angeles or vacationing around the world. The couple, however, refused — and still do — to talk about their relationship to the press and sure as hell never made their home videos into a reality show. And with that, the paparazzi seem to have somewhat cooled on the couple.

"I grew up in a small town outside of Memphis where privacy is a sign of respect," Timberlake says. "And I grew up as an only child. I didn't have to share a bedroom or clothes with a sibling. I'm used to getting my space. And I don't think I'm ready to give that up."


NEXT: The tough lessons Justin learned from his relationship with Britney ...
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