They say hindsight is 20/20, and it looks like that may be the case for Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake dropped the second chapter of his fourth studio album, The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2 , on Monday, but long before that he was a young artist hoping that music fans would connect with his attempts at a solo career.
A decade ago, when he was still unaware of just how successful he would be without his ’NSYNC bandmates by his side, MTV News spoke to Timberlake about 2002’s Justified.
“I think what I realized — and this actually has a point —what I realized was that I feel like I’m over the hump, you know what I mean?” he said of finally feeling at ease enough to listen the album.
That first album made Timberlake a solo chart-topper thanks to tracks like “Like I Love You” and “Cry Me a River,” and also forged his mega-successful relationship with 20/20 producer Timbaland (who produced the latter of those two singles).
“Obviously the jitters will come back when it’s time to do the second album, but I feel like the first four or five months, you know, it was me out there feeling like I had to prove to everybody that I could do this on my own because there was so much skepticism about that fact,” he said. “I feel like, at least for myself, I stepped up to the plate.”
Since then, Timberlake has released that second album, 2006’s Future Sex/Love Sounds, as well as both parts of The 20/20 Experience (the first was back in March). And in his latest sit-down with MTV News, he seemed rather unchanged by his superstardom, displaying much of the same humility he had all those years ago, before he married his muse, Jessica Biel, and even launched a successful movie career.
When we sat down with him after the VMAs (where he not only won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, but also reunited with his ’NSYNC bandmates ), he reflected on his early days as a solo singer on the eve of Part 2’s release.
“I guess now looking back at the first performances I had solo [at the VMAs], I had a lot of big performances with ’NSYNC, the TV screens come up in my mind. But my first solo performance where no one had heard ’Like I Love You,’ no one had even heard the record,” he reflected of his days trying to cross over. “So to be excited to be kind of giving such a new sound, not just for myself, but just for everything I was hearing out in the radio in 2002… I remember that being exciting as well.”