Timbaland Explains the Danger in Producers Trying to Predict “Hit” Records

By | Posted January 2, 2018
"The beauty of a hit is not knowing it's a hit."
Photo Credit: Mark Nguyen

Timbaland has produced countless hit records over the past 27 years, but according to the legendary producer, in addition to not always knowing right away if one of his records has the potential to become a "hit," he also avoids making educated guesses.

"I used to [think], 'Oh, that's a hit, that's a hit,'" Timbaland told Blueprint host and former Complex CCO Noah Callahan-Bever. "When you get caught up into that, it's like a spirit that comes with that, like an arrogancy [sic]. I try to stay away from that because I got caught up in that. And when you get caught up into that, you slack on your music and you just take it for granted and you think you are something that you are not."

He continued: "The beauty of a hit is not knowing it's a hit, but you know it feels good. You kinda can feel it, but it's kinda good to just be humble and just love the music that you created and let it be. That's what got me to this point. I let it be."

According to Timbaland, an example of "this feeling" came when he finished work on Justin Timberlake's 2006 single "SexyBack." While label execs weren't sure if the eventual No. 1 single, 3x Platinum-certified, would be a smash, Timbo says it just felt right. "Yes, that's the one," he recalled.

Fresh off beating a nasty addiction to OxyContin, the 45-year-old Virginia veteran is currently hard at work on material that, he says, has the potential to be a "classic," similar to the work that fellow legendary producer Quincy Jones did with Michael Jackson on Thriller, when he was 50 years old. 

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