Rating: 5/5 stars
Pros: One of the best producers in the last 20 years creates a futuristic new sound combining R&B, rock, rap and pop.
Cons: He doesn't have much on his mind besides partying and girls.
Bottom Line: Timbaland's long-awaited musical masterpiece.
Marching On (ft. One Republic)
Tomorrow in a Bottle (ft. Chad Kroeger and Sebastian)
Before the Shock Value series, Timbaland never had a signature CD as a solo artist, unlike fellow superstar producers like Dr. Dre and Kanye West. Producers can showcase their talent in that setting, free to unleash their creative id without compromise and look for inspiration in unlikely places. Shock Value II is the CD Timbaland has been building his entire career toward, the work of a great musician at the top of his game.
After more than a decade of consistent success, he doesn't need to justify his musical decisions. Shock Value II reflects that -- featuring everyone from Daughtry and Chad Kroeger to Miley Cyrus, the Fray, Drake and Justin Timberlake. Timbaland tweaks the music for each artist but keeps a consistent sound -- a futuristic mash-up of R&B, rock, pop and rap destined to be copied endlessly.
And with such a diverse and talented guest-list, the album feels like a compilation CD of the year's biggest hits. Nearly every song could conceivably be released as a single; in theory he could have a big hit in four different genres -- rap ("Say Something"), rock ("Marching On or "Long Way Down"), pop ("Undertow" or "Lose Control" ) and R&B ("Carry Out").
For the most part, each song celebrates a different aspect of how great he (and his guests) are. Drake pokes fun at girls from his past ("I should wanna go back to the one I started with / But I'm addicted to this life it's gonna be hard to quit") while Daughtry reminisces on his meteoric ascent ("I hear it's such a long way down / And the climb back up is something I can do without").
Timbaland serves as a unifying force, as a DJ introducing each act while occasionally delivering a rap verse. He's nowhere near as talented on the mic as Dre and Kanye, but he doesn't detract from the music. He doesn't have much to say: "It you assume my life is wonderful, then y'all right" is about as introspective as he gets on Shock Value II. It's an album designed to play from start to finish at a house party, and it will many times over the next few months.