Timbaland’s experimental instrumental propaganda is something that sets him miles apart from other producers. His repertoire of sound is fundamentally in his ability to create a track which resonates, bizarre and other-worldly productions that leave you either screaming, “Whoyyyyyyyyyy!!!” Or “Nayyyyyyyyyy”. He was on top of his game once but is he still the king?
The first track “Get No Betta” featuring Mila J is promising for the album’s opening as we have the radio reference of “how can a king not stay king when he was born one”. The summer breezy intro and Mila J’s harmony escalate into the familiar drum-beat association and synth dotted plotting that is usually found within Timbaland’s material. He is known for his auto-tuned voice usage and echoing in the background that is symbolic of him as the hook, “You don’t get no better” with Mila J (also auto-tuned) quite heavily along-side this track. It’s pleasant enough.
“Shakin” featuring the late great Aaliyah was a tune that Timbaland took to twitter to announce – crafted from unreleased material from Aaliyah that he had stashed away. It does bring Aaliyah’s silkiness and the Timbaland’s shaker-maker, beat-boxing, synth-focused compositions of music, back together again. It isn’t his most outlandish sound, but it still resonates something of who he is on this release.
The next succession of songs on this record, “Dem Jeans”, “Frenemies”, “Tables Turn”, “Servin”, “Didn’t Do It”, “Callin And Callin”, “Where You At”, “Shawty” and “This Me, F**k It”, can all be categorised together as they sound so similar and so commercial, that none o these stand out for me or for what Timbaland is worthy of. Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, Tink (who I do like vocally), Blaze Serving and 2 Chainz are some of the more known rappers in the game today, but unfortunately their lazy, compact vocals, have them sounding like puppets being pulled up and down in a monotone pitch, stringing together some words that are catchy maybe, but disappointing overall.
“All I See” featuring Sequence has the listener returning more to some trademark production from Timbaland, featuring drum smashing and crashing cymbals, plus an extremely veritably chipmunk voice that occupies parts of the song, which maintains some animated element. Tink features a good few times on this mixtape but I find her delivery on “Drama Queen” to be a little reminiscent of Nicki Minaj (unfortunately). The song seems to sample the classic “One Minute Man”, with some extortion here and there, but I so clearly hear “One Minute Man”, and this doesn’t compete like Bubba Sparx “Ugly” or Missy Elliot’s “Get Your Freak On” did.
“Go Ahead (Boo Boo Kitty)” and “Drug Dealer” conjure up similarities with earlier songs “Where You At” and “This Me, F**k It”, and their criticisms unfortunately, so these songs don’t showcase anything new as a whole, except the fact that newcomers Rico Richie, WDNG Crashers, Goldy and Cynthia feature on the tracks.
“You Held It Down” brings more of an R&B element to the mixtape, It’s a smooth track, and brings some of Timbaland’s individuality to the fore. The synthesizers play a key role here, and teases the electronic side Timbaland a bit more. Final track “On Tha Way” however returns to the “This Me, F**k it” execution. The incoherence, the almost low pounding drop and (quick) drum beat cymbal, which sound like a ’tish’ that continues throughout the record, leaves D’MXCI rambling about God knows what.
I never would have considered Timbaland to be a sell-out, whether that be to his own signature and individuality, or to his timing and efforts. However, it is 2016 and what dominates the charts is music of a new genre, and an era which resonaes with individuals who seem to lack freedom of expression. King stays King is ultimately a sell-out with nothing spectacular in its development. On many of the tracks I couldn’t hear the old Timbaland anywhere; and it was bemusing to me as I know who the old and true Timbaland is.
Even Shock Value was so truly Timbaland that you couldn’t compare it to another record so closely like you can with King stays King. I had hoped for better and do hope Timbaland releases material closer to home in the future. Although moving with the times is essential, I would like Timbaland to stay true to Timbaland. King Stays King is out now, download it here.
Words by Christine Reynolds