I'm torn, in listening to Timbaland's new album Shock Value, between being genuinely impressed, and wondering if it was all meant to sound very similar. Part of what irks me so much about Timbaland's productions is that his stuff is so accessible and recognizable, there almost isn't room for the artist to be themself. (Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right", for example) On this album, the beats rule. They are Timbaland's voice, his palette, his paintbrush, his paint...the glue that holds the entire operation together. It is his greatest strength, and I also feel his biggest weakness. Beats are great, but I feel they can only get you so far.
Timbo has about 5 radio hits nestled in this album, and some collaborations that will prove interesting in the future. He's discovered a fantastic singer, Keri Hilson, and stuck her in the album three times, once with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, once with D.O.E. and once with Sebastian. Each song showcases her considerable talent, and I am eagerly anticipating her solo album (as long as it isn't positively littered with Timbaland's beats). "Give It To Me", obviously, is already a hit since it features the vocals of two artists he can claim credit for being "HRN" (hot right now). "Release" is a fast-paced song that just makes you want to move. "Bounce" is a dirty silly song that is almost guaranteed to get some attention, but not because it has any real merit for anything. "Scream", the collaboration between Keri Hilson, Nicole Scherzinger, and himself. "Fantasy" brings up the tail, having a ton of intensity and a cutesy r&b chanteuse named Money.
There are some collaborations here that are questionable, like Fall Out Boy, the Hives, or She Wants Revenge. But what seems awkward at first seems almost second nature by the end of the disc. I am glad that Timbo took these excursions into different genres, because it shows a true open mind and a willingness to try new things. I feel that these collaborations could open up interesting avenues, musically speaking, to styles we haven't properly considered in the past. Now we have a reference. "What would happen if we put some hot r&b/hip-hop beats to this pop-punk band? Ah! "One And Only" by Timbaland and Fall Out Boy is what would happen." It's not a bad claim.
Again, a large part of me feels like I'm listening to the same song over and over with different singers, so I think Timbaland needs to spend a little less time with the drum machine and more time trying to make the song stand well if those signature beats are taken away. That will show his true lasting power as his own solo artist, I believe.