Although it was a giggling baby and a sample from a Broadway musical that arguably made Timbaland and Jay-Z household names (“Are You That Somebody” and “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” respectively), it has been the work that these two have put in together that have helped provide both of them with bodies of work which have taken them past their contemporaries and into icon status where very few others reside. Not only has this duo made hit singles that got the attention of listeners, they’ve made outstanding album cuts that have kept it as well.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Mr. Mosley produced the bulk of Mr. Carter’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail or that Samsung bought one million copies of it; Jay and Tim make amazing music together. But before they continue to forge ahead with #NewRules, it’s important to recognize how the collaborations between these two have given them the power to do so.
Here are a few highlights (in chronological order) from their past together which prove that these two have always been ahead of their time.
“N***a What, N***a Who (Originator ’99)” (1998): The first collaboration between these two remains one of their best. Jay-Z and Jaz-O’s fast raps atop Timbaland’s futuristic beat are a perfect match. When talking about seeing Jay-Z not write lyrics down for the song, Tim has said, “[That] was amazing to me, so that’s when I said, ‘Nobody can beat Jay-Z.’ And I was a Jay-Z fanatic.”
“Lobster and Scrimp” (1998): Their previous collaboration had been so successful that they teamed up one more time in the 9-8 for this single from Timbaland’s debut. Jay summed it all up best in the song when he said, “Styles so sick I need bed rest.”
“It’s Hot (Some Like it Hot)” (1999): By many accounts this record is most remembered for S. Carter’s response to 50 Cent’s “How to Rob.” However, the beat itself too is quite memorable. The hand claps, the drums, the wah-wah guitar pedal- it has Timbo’s “expect the unexpected” motif all over it.
“Snoopy Track” (1999): The frantic beat and Juvenile on the chorus help make this one of Jay-Z’s most memorable (non-single) songs to date. The quality of this and the Ha remix make Juvenile and Jay two for two.
“Big Pimpin’” (1999): Initially, UGK disagreed on doing the song. Fortunately, they ended up appearing on it and Hip-Hop is forever thankful for it. Timbaland’s Middle-Eastern instrumental beat had bounce, Bun B’s 32 bars are amazing, Jay-Z had another hit, and Pimp C (R.I.P.) dropped a verse that fans can still recite word-for-word in the 2010s whenever Hova performs the record live.
“Come and Get Me” (1999): In just a little over 6 minutes, Jay-Z destroyed any notion that he’d gone pop as a result of doing multi-platinum numbers. With little regard for traditional song structure, Sean Carter spit over two Tim Mosley instrumentals with the intent to prove he was not afraid of confrontation. Mission accomplished and then some. The song is a classic.
“Hey Papi” (2000): This song really comes off as a sequel to “Big Pimpin,’” but why change a winning formula? “Hey Papi” is noteworthy (again) because of Timbaland’s unorthodox music and Jay-Z’s ability to body any beat (Even if they don’t understand the flow/They understand the dough).
“Hola Hovito” (2001): Jay-Z’s seemingly effortless delivery is on full-display here as he raps over vamped guitar chords and keys. And while The Blueprint made stars out of Just Blaze and Kanye West for their work behind the boards, it also brightened Timbaland’s star power as well on the strength of this one record alone.
“The Bounce” (2002): While Jay-Z’s 2002 album didn’t pan out as well as his album from the year before, there are a few gems. “The Bounce” is one such instance. Hov brags about the success of The Blueprint, has some words for people who judge him entirely off his singles, and interpolates a Kurupt lyric. Then, of course, there’s Timbo’s Bollywood beat and a solid verse from Kanye West.
“Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (2003): Track 6 off The Black Album reached its cultural apex when then Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama brushed the dirt off his shoulder in a 2008 speech. It’s a wonderful testament to the song, considering it was already over four years old at the time. But the fact that the song holds up isn’t shocking at all, especially after seeing footage of Jay-Z and Timbaland recording it in the Fade to Black documentary.
What’s your favorite Jay-Z/Timbaland collaboration? Let us know in the comments section!