Late Sunday night, Justin Timberlake donned his formal wear for “Suit & Tie.” And in addition to adding Jay-Z to his clique, he also enlisted the help of producer Timbaland to give fans a flirty, saxy taste of what’s to come on The 20/20 Experience, his first album in six years.
And, any good Justin-phile knows this is hardly his first musical rodeo with Timbaland. The Tims’ road to “Suit & Tie” has been over a decade in the making and paved club jammers and ear-crunching tracks.
So, as fans continue to try the song on for size, MTV News is taking a look back on the Timberlake/Timbaland friendship, which shaped JT’s post-NSYNC career and helped launch him from teen heartthrob to a solo superstar.
The Justin-fied Files
In 2002, Timberlake kicked off his solo career with the just-pop-enough Justified. The majority of the album got its musical footprint from the likes of the Neptunes and Timbaland. Tim cooked up four tracks for the album, including “Right for Me” with Bubba Sparxxx, “(And She Said) Take Me Now” with Janet Jackson, “(Oh No) What You Got” and, of course, “Cry Me a River,” a song widely believed to be about JT’s split from Britney Spears. Among their first batch of collabos, “Cry” remains a Timberlake standard, full of heartbreak and breakup turmoil.
Four years later, the besties changed up the game on 2006’s Future Sex/Love Sounds. The album solidified Timberlake’s place in pop history, thanks to its genre-busting tracks and A-list collaborations. More grown-up than ever, Timberlake dropped its first single, “SexyBack,” that summer and the Timbaland/Timberlake partnership became a force to be reckoned with.
In addition to “SexyBack,” the guys cooked up an array of tunes including singles “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around (Interlude),” “My Love” with T.I., “LoveStoned,” “Until the End of Time” with Beyoncé and “Summer Love.”
“I think that’s why I ended up doing 10 songs with him on this album,” the singer told MTV News in 2007 about working with Tim . “When you have somebody like Timbaland, who is so creative and yet finds a way to hone it all — Is that even a word? Hone? — I think that’s why it just became a sound. … We were conscious of the last song and trying to go left of where we had just been.”
Their partnership is no one-way street. Justin has also appeared alongside the producer/rapper on two of his solo albums, Shock Value (2007) and Shock Value II (2009). He’s managed to assist his pal on some of those albums’ biggest singles, including SV‘s “Give It To Me” (which also featured another Timbaland muse, Nelly Furtado) and SV II‘s “Carry Out.”
Other A-List Projects
Over the years, the pair has also been enlisted by other artists to sprinkle some of their magic on. In 2007, 50 Cent worked with Justin and Timbaland on his Curtis track, “Ayo Technology.” One year later, Madonna must have liked what she heard from the Tims, as she worked with them on her album Hard Candy. The trio of music masters worked on five tracks, including “4 Minutes.”
What’s your favorite JT/Timbaland collabo? Sound off below!