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Intersections: Hip-Hop Producer Timbaland

Intersections is a Morning Edition series about how artists are changed by encounters with other artists, be they visual, literary or musical. But we live in a postmodern age, and some artists are influenced by… everything.

Timbaland is himself one of the most influential producers in the music industry. The stars he's worked with include Jay-Z, Aaliyah and most famously, Missy Elliott. Together, Elliott and Timbaland have generated a slew of pop classics, such as Get Ur Freak On.

The collaboration makes sense: Both are artists with a penchant for breaking the rules. Timbaland made a name for himself by developing an ear for manipulating sound, sampling beats from a broad spectrum of musical genres. He also defied hip-hop's bias against incorporating R&B and pop-style singing into songs. Elliott, too, is an iconoclast. She faced down narrow R&B stereotypes of seductive, lamenting women to create a willful, complex persona.

Timbaland tells NPR's Neda Ulaby that Elliott influenced his decision to take his unconventional sampling style into the recording studio. "When I first met Missy, I felt like 'I can do it,'" he says. "I started doing beats, and she started singing to them. It felt good, it was a chemistry we both had."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.