The Strange, Awkward Connection Between Justin Timberlake and Hip-Hop
With assistance from heavyweights like The Neptunes and Timbaland, Justin Timberlake created some of the most memorable music of his generation. And while Timberlake has provided plenty of soul, he also has embraced Hip-Hop with open arms. That may seem strange. But it worked; it worked really well making the 32-year-old a pop music icon.
In recognition of his career and all that his star power has brought to Hip-Hop (and vice versa), AllHipHop has created a list of Justin Timberlake’s 10 best Hip-Hop moments and collaborations. As awkward as they may be at times, it doesn’t make the fact that they are great any less true.
10) “Chop Me Up” Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland and Three 6 Mafia
Justin Timberlake is from Memphis, Tennessee, and so it was only right that he do a record with fellow Memphis natives Three 6 Mafia. The collaboration was mutually beneficial too. It allowed Three 6 to capitalize on their recent Oscar win and added to the former Mouseketeer’s credibility in Hip-Hop. And while it does sound more like a song for strip club stages than dance floors, it’s still a bonafide hit as a result of the chopped and screwed chorus and Timbo beat.
9) “Signs” Snoop Dogg feat. Charlie Wilson and Justin Timberlake
For whatever reason, this single never made it into the Top 40. But the song is solid. It’s the first time Justin is heard saying the f-word on record, the funky/disco vibe is certainly reminiscent of the G-funk era, and Snoop is in his full-fledged player mode. The record is then further authenticated with an appearance by Charlie Wilson at the end of it. It’s three generations of male artists offering three different perspectives on romance at various stages of a relationship.
8) “Where is the Love?” The Black Eyed Peas feat. Justin Timberlake
Timberlake was allegedly brought to the attention of the BEP through then new member Fergie. After hearing will.i.am’s instrumental, JT assisted in penning and performing the hook. For fear of overexposure at the time, Justin’s label didn’t allow him to appear in the video. However, that didn’t stop the song’s success. It helped put BEP on the map in the states, it was the highest-selling single in U.K. in 2003, and it is a major reason that Elephunk has sold a total of over 8 million copies.
7) “Give it to Me” Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado
This record is catchy and provided a place for all three performers to brag. With Nelly talking about her looks (“Love my a** and my abs in the video for ‘Promiscuous’”), Timbaland taking shots at Scott Storch (“I’m a real producer and you just a piano man), and Justin rapping and responding to Prince (“Now if se-sexy never left, then why’s everybody on my sh*-*-*t/Don’t hate on me just because you didn’t come up with it”), none of the three are short on confidence. And this song gave them one more reason to be cocky, it reached number 1 on the Billboard charts.
6) “Young Forever” Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake
This live performance of “Young Forever” on the “Legends of the Summer” tour after the heart-breaking not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman was a powerful one. When Jay said, ““Let’s light the sky for Trayvon Martin tonight in here,” Yankee stadium immediately brightened up. And while Mr. Timberlake sang Mr. Hudson’s chorus and did it justice, he also added, “One time for Trayvon” as the crowd joined in on the chorus of the top ten single. It was the closing number for the show and surely left a lasting impression on all those in attendance.
5) “The History of Rap Medleys” Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake
Justin certainly earned acting and comedic chops on Saturday Night Live (i.e. “D**k in a Box”), and so it makes perfect sense that he would continue to hone those skills on an SNL alumni’s talk show. JF and JT run through decades of Hip-Hop hits with The Roots providing the music. It’s very entertaining, but doesn’t come across as disrespectful. If anything, it shows the power of Hip-Hop and its ability to bring people from all walks of life together. The bit was so successful they’ve done it four times (to date).
4) “Dead and Gone” T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake
As the closing track to T.I.’s Paper Trail, “Dead and Gone” ends the already incredible album on a very high note. The song was such a highlight that it even landed on the Billboard charts before it was officially released as a single. It’s a hauntingly heartfelt record which also proved that JT’s hiatus between solo albums didn’t diminish his abilities whatsoever. And if the music video wasn’t proof positive enough, the live performance of it at the Grammy Awards silenced any remaining naysayers.
3) “Holy Grail” Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake
In one of the most powerful performances of his career, Justin provides the chorus to the opening song of Jay Z’s twelfth solo album. In an interview, Jay said, “This [“Holy Grail”] was the map for the album.” It is an epic opening to an ambitious album and neither disappoint. And to make it even more powerful, the song also interpolates a Nirvana lyric to assist in the depiction of fame’s instability. Obviously, there was even more to that music than what the Samsung commercial led people to believe.
2) “Like I Love You” Justin Timberlake feat. Clipse
At the 2002 Video Music Awards on MTV, Justin Timberlake delivered his first solo performance. With his Michael Jackson style apparel and dance moves there to accompany the guitar looping Neptunes instrumental, it was the perfect set-up for JT’s reintroduction. Later joined on stage by Clipse, it became clear that Justin’s interest in Hip-Hop was still there (Nelly appeared on a remixed version on NSYNC’s final single “Girlfriend”). However, on this go round, it wasn’t just a great pop song featuring two rap verses again, it was a genre-bending tour de force.
1) “My Love” Justin Timberlake feat. T.I.
The way in which this track is structured around the stuttering synth sound with the beatbox in the back is astonishing. Easily, it is some of Timbaland’s best work behind the boards. Timberlake’s falsetto is spot-on and T.I.’s rap is a great closer to the song. The record is part ballad, part techno, and part Hip-Hop. No other piece on FutureSex/LoveSounds embodies that entire title better. And not surprisingly, “My Love” was a smash hit. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in America and received worldwide success as well.
What do you think of Justin Timberlake’s connection to Hip-Hop? Let us know in the comments section!