Shock Value

Artist: TimbalandTitle: Shock ValueRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Timbaland and his partner Danjahandz owned the charts in 2006. Whether with Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado or Omarion, the Virginia veteran brought out a new sound that brought out the wallflowers and skeptics. It's only right that in a year expected to see albums from Dr. Dre, Kanye West and newly found nemisis Scott Storch, that Timbo drops first. With a deep influence by the early '90s Hip-House records and a supporting cast of everybody from his brother Sebastian to 50 Cent to Elton John, Shock Value (Mosely/Blackground/Interscope) lives up to its name, waking up a drowsy quarter for mainstream rap music.

Although Tim brags throughout the album about money, hits and status, "The Way I Are" is entirely the opposite. Perhaps presented from the perspective of the assisting D.O.E., the song chronicles pockets linted love in the same way Stevie Wonder did so 43 years earlier on "Uptight." The epileptic bassline and catchy chorus makes this one of several rap-based tracks that become perfect Pop. The same is true of "Boardmeeting," a reunion with Magoo, in which the duo makes a seductive ballad out of Kurtis Blow, 3rd Faze and other early '80s influences. Timbaland's ad-libs may have updated, but the baritone beat-maker carries his vocals well, trading attempts at lyricism for equally cocky and catchy bars.

Not since Mannie Fresh's run in the late '90s has a producer made Hip-Hop fans want to upgrade what's in their trunk. Shock Value is Timbaland's own Paul's Boutique of sound and influence. Rather than crutch sampling, the artist either brings in his inspiration, or reworks it like the competition can't. Towards the end of the album, the momentum drops, like a mediocre dessert after an exquisite meal. The "One and Only" genre-bending collaboration with Fall Out Boy succumbs to Hot Topic teenage whining, after an album based on confidence. Equally, Elton John's co-production and appearance on "Two Man Show" is an artistic outro, but hardly the meeting of the two masters one would expect.

Shock Value is a remarkable Pop music that just happens to be Hip-Hop. This feat in of itself has not been accomplished since The Black Album, which Tim largely helped. After years of providing impeccable singles for empty albums, Tim Mosely gets it right. For its consistency and for its range, this is Tim's 2001, after distributing his Chronic to others for the first decade. By the time this album reaches its fourth single, the skeptics will understand.