There are few artists who truly deserve the title of superstar. Justin Timberlake is undoubtedly one of them. As one fifth of the multiplatinum *NSYNC, he's responsible for the hits "Pop", "Gone", and "Girlfriend" on the group's last album Celebrity. With *NSYNC sales of over 30 million worldwide, Timberlake is ready to temporarily branch out on his own for his highly anticipated solo effort, Justified.
It would have been easy for Timberlake to repeat the same winning formula as *NSYNC for his own album. "I don't wanna look back 5 years from now and regret not trying something different", says Timberlake. His musical tastes are so diverse - soulful R&B, hip-hop, rock, blues, country - and Justified thoroughly reflects all those genres. Although this Memphis native is only 21, his musical knowledge is extremely well rounded. "It's not like I set out to create some new sound, I just wrote what I wanted to hear and drew inspiration from the past", he says. As co-writer on the album's 13 tracks, Timberlake proves his talen as a songwriter once again.
The hit-making team The Neptunes produced seven songs on the album. "After working with Pharrell and Chad on "Girlfriend", we had such a connection that it was a no-brainer to work with them again", says Timberlake. The combination this time around is a risk-taking journey to unchartered musical territory.
The first single "Like I Love You", produced by The Neptunes, feels like something Prince's band would have slapped together in the middel of a jam session. "I knew it wasn't a first listen record, you'd have to hear it a couple of times before you got it", says Timberlake. "I felt it was the best song to come out with, because it sets up the album. It's definitely R&B, it's got the hip-hop element, but at the same time it has a rock flair." Indeed the song was the perfect introduction.
"Take it from here", a The Neptunes production, is another Timberlake favorite. "It's basically about how when the whole world is falling apart, I'll be the one who's there to pull you back on your feet", explains Timberlake. "THat is the most genuine way to say I love you to someone." The groove ballad's melody is a cross between Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway. "Although it's a soulful track, I kind of treated the vocals like a rock singer. I fell of the notes, and made it feel like you're floating when you listen to it", he says. Other Neptunes' records include R&B banger "Rock Your Body" and the Spanish influenced/blues inflected track "Senorita".
Producer Timbaland appears with 4 tracks on Justified including "(And She Sais) Take Me Now" featuring Janet Jackson. However, it's "Cry Me a River" that stands out among the Timbaland-produced songs. "As soon as Timbalake made that beat, I started humming this crazy melody. I really wanted one section of the song to follow that staccato rhythm, but wanted the other parts to feel like something new", says Timberlake. The song is like a Van Gigh painting; it takes you on an incredible journey that keeps building to an epic conclusion. "Even if you don't feel the emotion of the song, the groove is undeniable. It's not one of those songs that has a certain BPM (beats per minute), because it's a bit slower than what you're used to hearing on the radio", he says. "Cry Me a River" is a hip-hop ballad that has potential in both pop and urban markets.
The other producers on the album include the Underdogs, Scott Storch, and Brian McKnight. At such a young age, Justin Timberlake has created a masterpiece with his first album. His *NSYNC fans will not be disappointed and he'll surely gain some new ones. After all, success for Justin Timberlake is Justified.