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Subject: Pop music is not a forgiving genre

Written By: Dino on 02/23/07 at 6:33 am

But Mr. Timberlake took serious action when he embarked on his solo career. He paired himself with hip-hop producers Timbaland — whose portfolio includes collaborations with rappers Jay-Z and Missy Elliott — and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes, who has also worked with Jay Z. and the rapper Ludacris. Despite the seemingly simple formula — pair yourself with a respected producer and watch your stock soar — not all teen stars have succeeded with it. JC Chasez, Mr. Timberlake's former team member in *NSYNC, released "Schizophrenic" in 2004, on which he collaborated not with hip-hop stars, but with popular electronica producers Basement Jaxx, Rip Rock, and others. The album flopped, not so much because of Mr. Chasez's tinny voice, but because his synth-filled house music did little to entice hip-hop's mainstream audience.

As Mr. Chasez would probably admit, Mr. Timberlake is a much better musician and decision-maker. He was a perfect match for Timbaland and the Neptunes, who capitalized on his ability to mimic the vocal styles of singers like Michael Jackson and Prince. The video for "Cry Me a River," from 2002's "Justified," crackled with Mr. Timberlake's effortless dancing and anguished lyrics.

But is Mr. Timberlake's musical talent and taste in producers the only reasons for his extraordinary success?

Some critics have wondered aloud why Mr. Timberlake has been embraced by Top 40 radio and by black-dominated hip-hop. The answer is not as controversial as they might hope. Hip-hop welcomes a diverse array of stars with open arms. Veteran rappers Jay-Z and Diddy both released major comeback albums to popular and critical success despite a sense in the hip-hop community that they had little left to contribute to music. Bow Wow, who used to be known as Lil Bow Wow, began performing at age 8. Last year, at 18, he released the single "Fresh Azimiz," which instantly appeared on mixtapes and hip-hop radio. The white rapper Paul Wall has found great success on the Houston hip-hop scene, and Cypress Hill, that funloving Latino hip-hop troupe, has always been remembered as a quality performing group.

Mr. Timberlake is lauded as being a superman in the music industry, especially after releasing his second album, last year's "Future-Sex/LoveSounds," to high acclaim. But it's not necessarily his talent that has kept him afloat thus far. Rather, it's the fact that he aimed himself at the right audience. Mr. Timberlake would likely have found initial success had he stuck with the *NSYNC formula, but he found lasting power at hip-hop's door. His new audience is a welcoming one: Just rap or sing well, no matter who you are or what your back catalogue sounds like, and there will be a career for you.

Subject: Re: Pop music is not a forgiving genre

Written By: Foo Bar on 02/24/07 at 11:47 pm

...whose portfolio includes collaborations with...

A Modest Proposal for 2007:  If the name of your track includes the strings "feat.", "featuring", or "ft.", it's not worth listening to.

Exception: DJs/mixers are permitted to use "vs." if (and only if) the track supplying the backbeat is more than 10 years older than the vocalist.


UNACCEPTABLE: Some Generic Song Title Feat. Some Rapper You've Heard About.
ACCEPTABLE: Some "unacceptable" song title vs. Some Retro Artist Your Parents Remember.


Subject: Re: Pop music is not a forgiving genre

Written By: karen on 02/26/07 at 9:55 am


Did you write the original New York Sun article?  Good stuff.

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