World famous producer helps out chum. Pretty good, too...
Timbaland is the hip hop producer de nos jours, the maestro of the Dirty
South; Magoo is, basically, his mate. A rapper who knew Timbaland back in
pre-fame days, he has a high, androgynous drawl and – judging from the
sleeve – the demeanour of a big girl’s blouse. The pair’s first album
together, ‘Welcome To Our World’, was released in 1997 to critical interest
but no great sales. This belated follow-up, post-Aaliyah, ‘Get Ur Freak On’
and Timbaland‘s many other production triumphs, smacks of obligations being
fulfilled. As Tim‘s friend and associate Missy Elliott said last year, “He
feels he owes it to Magoo“.
This album is unlikely to do well commercially; snuck out in the States at the
end of last year, it was barely promoted. Timbaland is not the most
talkative of men, and it’s almost certain that the death of Aaliyah, his
protegee, will have left him feeling even less like selling himself than
normal. It’s a shame, because ‘Indecent Proposal’ is a good record; a
low-key, experimental but fascinating journey into a unique musical mind.
Recorded with a cast of minor guest stars (Jay-Z and Aaliyah being the only
big hitters), it’s a warped, transitional modern soul LP – unfocused at 17
tracks and containing some terrible rapping, but with more great ideas over
the course of an hour than some producers have in their whole careers.
The highlights stand out immediately. ‘Indian Carpet’ is a creepy-crawly
piece of hip hop psychedelia that stands alongside the best of
anything Tim‘s produced – listening to its woozy strings and witchy backing
vocals, you can virtually hear the whole of rap stretching forward. ‘It’s
Your Night’ switches beats from slow hip hop to four-on-the-floor disco
halfway through – a great trick Timbaland last performed on Ginuwine‘s
underrated second LP. ‘People Like Myself’ gets rough rappers bawling a
melody sounding not unlike ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor’ and is
unlike anything you’ve heard before. The closing ‘I Am Music’ evaporates in
a cloud of stunning harmonies from Aaliyah – shame that the song’s not
really anything to write home about.
Magoo, to be honest, might as well not have bothered. Though he no
longer sounds like Q-Tip as on the first album, he fades into the background
amongst the album’s guests, never commanding his own material. So a
qualified success then, and one you suspect is unlikely to be followed up as
Timbaland retreats ever further behind the mixing desk. But ‘Indecent
Proposal’ is a forward-thinking record, recommended to anyone who likes
their music to rock their headphones and mess with their head.