Timbaland & Magoo: Your question answered

BY KEN WALCZAK

Timbaland & MagooIndecent Proposal$18.97 ($11.88 from the Newbury Comics Email Club)

So there’s a new Timbaland album out?

Yep. Timbaland & Magoo: Indecent Proposal.

Indecent Proposal?

Another rap album that steals its title from a movie?

Hey, at least it’s not called To Wong Foo …

Too true. I thought this thing was, like, pushed back to January of 2000 — never or something …

No, you’re thinking of the Neptunes album. This one came out last Tuesday.

OK, let’s get to it then. Is this album worth my $18.97 Suggested Retail Price?

Please. $15 max. In an age of Student Advantage cards, online coupons and the Newbury Comics Email friggin’ Club, the MSRP is for suckers. No one pays it.

But yes, if you had to pay full price, I’d still say go for it. Indecent Proposal is a lot of fun, and it should keep the thangs backing up nicely at your next Bar Review After-Party. Of course, maybe you hang out with the 1Ls at Stanford, in which case your parties don’t need any encouragement.

But is it hot?

Of course it is. Has Timbaland let you down before? More to the point, has he let you down recently? His tracks on the Aaliyah record: hot. The latest Missy record: hot. Petey Pablo? “Some Like It Hot”? “Hola Hovito”? Hot hot hot.

And the beats here are just as nice. “Drop” is a classic club banger that switches gears to hard house 4 minutes in; “All Y’all” is on some crazy-flute shit (and nothing, I mean nothing beats a crazy flute); “It’s Your Night” brings the grimy, synthesized funk. And that’s just the first third of the album …

Wow. I read somewhere that Magoo is a good MC now. Is this true, or even kind of true?

No, it is not. I realize that in interviews with MTV, etc., Tim has been touting the great strides made of late by his protégé. He may not be lying – Mags certainly wasn’t any good before. That being said, however, Magoo is still not a good rapper by any stretch of the imagination.

For one thing, his newest strategy appears to be slowing it down a notch and dragging out his words more …

Like Snoop Dogg?

Personally, I would have said “like Da Brat’s developmentally handicapped cousin,” but yes.

Either way the man is not about to steal the spotlight away from Timbaland. In fact, his producer is the better MC on this record. Sample lyrics:

Tim: “Shake that ass as fast as you can/ White girls shake it like you’re burnin’ from a suntan.”

Magoo: “I live life to the fullest/ Drive cars, eat hot food/ Live in a mansion next to Hanson.”

Eat hot food?! I rest my case.

Considering the panoply of guests surrounding him, the really sad part is that Magoo is probably the fourth or fifth best MC on what amounts to his own record. (Maybe sixth – can I count Aaliyah?)

Oh, yes, Aaliyah. She had so much talent, the poor girl. How is her posthumous appearance anyway?

Disappointing. There is nothing wrong with her singing, certainly, and the beat is solid enough, but what an awful concept. It’s called “I Am Music” and all the words essentially pound a single reification (Aaliyah-as-song) into your head. You can buy her in the store, she lives in the radio in your car, etc. etc. Incredibly corny, and therefore such a waste.

Does Beck sing on it? I heard he was going to.

No Beck, thank God.

You know I am always searching for the source of these “gay rapper” rumors. Are there, by chance, any strange homoerotic undertones on the album?

Funny you should ask. To begin with, there is a skit in which Tim goes out of his way to avoid the advances of a crowd of sexy-voiced women, who conclude “you trippin’ …” when he finally succeeds in squirming away. Then there are Tim’s reminders to women on “People Like Myself” that he doesn’t “want your sex.” On “Party People,” Magoo makes some muddled reference to biting ears and sucking blood from other MCs, but this is probably reaching.

By far the most striking homoeroticism comes from a character named Sebastin (!), who pops up on several tracks without ever earning a “Featuring” credit, the poor guy. His verse on “Roll Out” makes reference to “eating raw franks.” If you’ve got a less controversial interpretation, I’d love to hear it.

But let’s not get carried away, either. None of this should be viewed out of context. There are certainly plenty of references to how much women looove Tim & Mags, and the lyrics in general are characterized by an utter disregard for self-contradiction. There are contradictory phrases and moments all over the place.

Such as?

Such as Timbaland alternately exhorting the party people to “get some liquor in the gut,” and teetotaling: “I don’t drink and smoke/ That’s why I love my body.” Such as Magoo’s above-mentioned “live life to the fullest” lines juxtaposed with his assurances that he “hates the game,” and stays home from clubs because the attention bugs him. Such as the hypnotic chorus “People like myself only hang with self,” and really all the words in that song, versus the fact that this album alone has no fewer than 13 guests on it, all of them either past associates of Timbaland or new disciples …

Yeah, what’s up with Tim’s ever-expanding circle of acolytes, anyway? I mean Beat Club, Blackground … I can’t keep up. Can you explain how this all fits together?

Nope; sorry. It confuses the hell out of me, too.

Anything else I should know?

Well, do you remember how the last 40 seconds of “We Need A Resolution” were far and away the best part of that song? A lot of the stuff on Indecent Proposal works that way, too. Listen to the ends of these songs, and the segues between them, and you will be reminded of why Timbaland is the best thing mainstream hip-hop and R&B production have going for them right now.

In fact the whole album is really a triumph of A&R, in both the old and new sense of the industry term. Time was, the A&R guy decided which order the songs went in on an LP – hence the title, Artists & Repertory. Indecent Proposal displays immaculate track ordering – everything flows into everything else naturally, allowing the oft-mentioned party people to put down their glasses and still their asses only once every 6 or 7 songs. Skits are minimal, and serve either to flesh out an introduction or to demarcate the LP’s thirds (into The Dance Part, The Petey Pablo Part, and The Quiet Part, respectively). It’s all superbly executed.

Nowadays an A&R guy recruits and signs new talent for a label, which is of course exactly what Timbaland has been doing for years, and what he continues to do with Tweet, Static from Playa, and even Mr. Sebastin on Indecent Proposal. To the extent that they all make distinct contributions to a successful, funky-as-hell record, Tim succeeds here, too.

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