Even with multiple Grammy nods, a spate of chart-topping hits and recognition as one of today's most innovative producers, Timbaland doesn't just sit back all day and wait for artists to call him.
The multiplatinum beatsmith and composer said he still finds himself picking up the phone to seek out rappers, singers and bands to work with. Thing is, those same artists are pretty much doing the same thing he's doing — they usually just aren't as fast.
"I reached out to Madonna, and she was already trying to find me," Timbaland explained on Wednesday while in town for Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds tour (see "Timberlake, Samberg Whip Out The Boxes At New York Show"). "I'm like, 'She was? Hmm.' It's funny. People will reach out to me, and I guess I beat them to the punch sometimes. It's crazy to see how many people want to work with me. I'm still in shock."
The result of all those phone calls is the driving force behind the producer's next album, Timbaland Presents Shock Value, due March 27.
The project features a diverse list of guest artists throughout, ranging from Jay-Z and Lil Wayne to Fall Out Boy and the Hives. ("The one with the Hives is ill," Tim boasted. "That's my record there.")
Another surprising collaboration Timbaland managed to nail down is with Sir Elton John. Even more surprising, the producer got the legendary John to solely play the piano on the track rather than sing.
"He played for at least seven hours," Timbaland explained of working with John. "He was dope. You're talking about a guy ... he's done songs with Aretha Franklin. You're talking about a dude I can't keep up with. That's all I can say.
"The song I got with him, really it's just him playing," he continued. "I don't have him singing. I might have him say one little line, that's it. It's more about his art and what he does. That's what people loved him for. When 'Bennie and the Jets' came out, there really weren't any lyrics. It was more about the music. He's a musical genius."
Other standout tracks on Shock Value, according to Timbaland, include a reunion with his rhyme partner Magoo and the album intro, featuring a Nina Simone sample. "I ain't gonna put too much out on it, it might scare the people," he said of the opener.
While Tim noted the scope of the artists he's worked with and his interest in multiple genres of music, he also admitted that a lot of times he really has no clue who some artists are when they approach him.
"When I go to a lot of award shows in Europe, [it seems like] everybody wants to work with me," Timbaland said, laughing. "And I'll be like, 'Huh? What?' "
A European musician Tim is familiar with is, however, is the Finnish producer who accused him of stealing a beat (see "YouTube Clip Claims Timbaland Got Furtado Track From Finnish Dude"). Timbaland called the accusation "foolish."
"It makes me laugh," he said. "The part I don't understand, the dude is trying to act like I went to his house and took it from his computer. I don't know him from a can of paint. I'm 15 years deep. That's how you attack a king? You attack moi? Come on, man. You got to come correct. You the laughing stock. People are like, 'You can't be serious.' "
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