Speaker 1: It’s just so good, right? Listen.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: I notice. Welcome to Hit Parade, a podcast of pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I’m Chris Molanphy, chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why is this song number one series? On today’s show, 20 years ago, in the summer of 2000, two major label Jive Records was setting up the debut album from a very high priority new solo artist who had just emerged from a blockbuster boyband. And they needed to give this young man, Justin Timberlake, his own bespoke adult sound for the first single.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: They went with a track that had the vibe of a young Michael Jackson. But the song, like I Love You was much quirkier than that, as if a lush eighties Jackson song had been deconstructed and stripped for parts there.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The. This skeletal song’s masterminds were from Virginia Beach, Virginia, a pair who called themselves the Neptunes. One of the producers, Pharrell Williams, even appeared in Timberlake’s video alongside a pair of rappers. The clips, who also hailed from Virginia Beach.
Speaker 1: Went on to Do I in front of you. I’m gonna have to make you put on a stage show in the mall. Kids How to take glow when they say Wow.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Is the same for Timberlake’s second single. Jive went with a song produced by a different Virginia Beach producer and songwriter. And this single, too, sounded spacey, avant garde and catchy as hell.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Cry Me A River was the handiwork of the man born Timothy Mosley, known professionally as Timberland. The recording was a cathedral of weird. It lurched, gurgled, pinged and words punctuated by synthesised orchestral bursts and a virtual choir. Johnny. Nothing in Justin Timberlake’s boyband past sounded like either like I Love You. Or Cry Me a river.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Pharrell Williams and Timberland had fully rebooted the young pop star’s career. Just why did a major label entrust their new solo superstar to these two cutting edge Virginia Beach producers? Because by 2002, Pharrell and Tim had established themselves as not only the locus of musical coolness, but also the leading hitmakers of millennial pop.
Speaker 3: So take off all your go. Oh, my God. With Jihadi John.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: They have been on a tear for the better part of a decade, refashioning r and b.
Speaker 4: R u response.
Speaker 1: Hip hop we do with big band. Check them out now. Big band of the year they may be doing.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And even glossy teen pop in their image. But there was arguably no greater ambassador for the Virginia Beach Sound than a woman who also grew up in the Greater Hampton Roads area, was both an artist and a producer herself and was Timberland’s professional partner, muse and inspiration. Path breaking rapper Missy Elliott.
Speaker 4: And striving to be the top down. Laughs Now see my feet, give them pants now look cool with me it be me, me, me and Timothy.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Together, Missy and Timberland redefined the sounds considered accessible not just in hip hop, but in top 40 pop smuggling in some of the most delightfully weird sounds ever to make the top ten time.
Speaker 4: Gets it pretty.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Eventually, Pharrell Williams and Tim Mosley followed Missy’s lead to become frontline artists themselves, with big hits scored by both Pharrell.
Speaker 1: We are low level modern.
Speaker 3: She knows how to screw you now and Timberland.
Speaker 1: I ain’t going nowhere.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And none of this activity seemed to slow their roll. Working in parallel, Pharrell, Timberland and Missy began spreading the percolating peculiarities of Virginia Beach to hits that topped the charts over. And over.
Speaker 4: The same one I this one time.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And over again. Today on Hit Parade, we will trace the careers of Southern Virginian Studio nerds Pharrell Williams, Timberland and Missy Elliott hit makers who threw the confidence of their productions, changed the sound of chart bound pop and kept scoring hits deep into the 20 tens.
Speaker 1: Because if you feel.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Oh, because for 25 years now, it has seemed like Pharrell, Tim and Missy could do anything from fronting an alternative rock band.
Speaker 3: You can’t beat me on the tough call for pop stars.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: To getting a song with backward vocals on the chorus to the top of the charts.
Speaker 4: It’s your wedding and it’s your wedding. If you get a big one.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And that’s where your hit parade marches today. The week ending November 16th, 2002, when Work It by Missy Elliott featuring Timberland, reached its peak of number two on the hot 100 a fortnight after Pharrell Williams alt rock band nerd went gold with their debut album In Search of. It was a heady time for the Virginia Beach Wizards when everything they touched turned to platinum. But how did Pharrell, Tim and Missy keep the hits coming long past that imperial peak? Keep the charts weird and keep reinventing the sound of pop from Generation X to Gen Z.
Speaker 4: What is it worth? Let me work it out a bit and reverse it. It’s Europe. It’s Europe. Sweet dreams.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Some congratulations are in order for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2022, which was announced while this hit Parade episode was in the works. Among the performers inducted this year are Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, Eminem, Lionel Richie, Carly Simon, Dolly Parton and this chart topping eighties synth pop duo Eurythmics.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Last. I’m playing Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart’s 1983 number one hit. Sweet dreams are made of this so you can listen to it with fresh ears. I know that’s hard. Sweet Dreams is now considered classic pop and, frankly, adult contemporary wallpaper. It’s not even contemporary anymore. I’ll bet the last time you heard this song was in a checkout line. Or maybe an all these radio station.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But when Eurythmics breakthrough hit first emerged in 83, I must tell you, it seemed weird. Good. Weird. Its mastery of melody, rhythm and arrangement were hard to miss even then. But nothing on the radio sounded like this. The chilly lyrics about power and abuse. The odd way Lennox sings the word this as vs the way the synthesizers cycle around the melody and produce a lurching rhythm. The way it builds on the bridge to an electronic string solo.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: To say nothing of the music video which featured Dave Stewart playing a computer keyboard as if it were a musical instrument, and Annie Lennox in drag in a men’s suit with a red buzz haircut, singing deadpan to the camera in a corporate conference room while cows yes, cows marched around a conference table. The weirdness, the transgressive ness. This was what made sweet dreams. Great, Pop. It now sounds normal to us. It wasn’t normal then.
Speaker 1: Sweet dreams.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This is the story of hit music in general, stuff that at first upends our notion of what popular songs are supposed to sound like then gets normalized. It’s like when James Brown and his famous flames changed the emphasis of a four beat measure from the fourth beat to, as James put it, the one thus helping to invent and codify funk.
Speaker 3: Hey, hey, hey.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This sounded off kilter in 1965 on Papa’s Got a brand new. Back then it just became what Funk sounded like or what about this? Does this seem like an obvious hit.
Speaker 1: To express this express?
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Sounds like a banger now, right? It didn’t in 1978. Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express peaked at number 67, but within just a couple of years, so much of pop music sounded like Kraftwerk, including Eurythmics or Gary Numan or the Human League. Or, for that matter, first wave hip hop like Afrika Bambaataa, Planet Rock. Among the artists influenced by Kraftwerk was a young Pharrell Williams. He told us so himself. In 2021, Pharrell appeared at that year’s Rock Hall induction ceremony to induct Kraftwerk.
Speaker 5: For many of us, we were influenced by Kraftwerk without even realizing it. When Afrika Bambaataa reached into a creative records and found Kraftwerk. That’s when millions of hip hop fans around the world, including myself, heard Kraftwerk infectious beats for the very first time. I’m so lucky I got to meet the late Florian Schneider and let him know how much his music meant to all of us. We should all be thankful for Kraftwerk. It’s why this recognition is so important. Welcome, Kraftwerk, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Like Kraftwerk or Eurythmics or James Brown. Pharrell Williams whole career is about normalizing the formerly outre. So too was his friend and peer Timothy Timbaland Mosley. Sounds that swoop skitter even sound cartoon like these were made into mainstream pop by Pharrell, Tim and his friend Missy Elliott.
Speaker 4: Medium is my window.
Speaker 1: On the.
Speaker 4: Brain hits my window I think give me some me and then we think singer Django.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But before these quirky geniuses let’s say it nerds could help pioneer the so-called Tidewater tic rhythm sound. They had to find a path into the music business. And those roots came through the blends of rap and R&B that had already begun percolating a decade earlier.
Speaker 1: Tin and jam from the.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This is the R&B trio guy. Formed and led by New York songwriter producer Teddy Riley. That’s singer Aaron Hall, calling out Riley by name. Teddy Jam for me. Teddy Riley’s claim to fame in the mid to late eighties was pioneering the subgenre New Jack Swing, a blend of R&B and rap production styles that made hip hop palatable on pop and even black radio. Subsequently, this sound took over the charts. If you were listening to hit music in the late eighties, you surely heard a Teddy Riley production. Whether it was the seminal 1987 Keith Sweat hit I Want Her.
Speaker 3: On that day.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: For the 1988 Bobby Brown hit my prerogative, new Jack Swing’s quintessential hit, which was ghostwritten and co-produced by Teddy Riley.
Speaker 3: Don’t get me wrong.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: By 1989, when that Bobby Brown single went to number one, Riley all but owned New Jack Swing. That year, he even had one of his protege groups, Rex, an effect co-led by his brother Markelle. Riley recorded a song called New Jack Swing.
Speaker 1: But then believe a thing about.
Speaker 3: The new jazz.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Let’s put a pin in the name Rex in effect. We’ll come back to them. What makes Teddy Riley pivotal to this story is what he did in the early nineties. The native of Harlem looking to get away from the rough and tumble of New York City, moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, setting up a small studio in a residential neighborhood. This would prove to be a catalyst to the entire Virginia Beach scene, which wasn’t really a scene. Before Riley arrived, even though the town was filled with talent. Very young, very raw talent.
Speaker 4: Including. Wake me up for people that can’t go.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Next to the way I feel. This is a 1991 demo tape by s b i, a rap crew slash production team made up of Virginia Beach high schoolers Pharrell Williams, his cousin Timothy Mosley, Tim’s friend Melvyn Barr, Cliff, who would later give himself the rap name Magoo and Pharrell’s Filipino American buddy Chad Hugo Williams and Hugo would later form the production team, the Neptunes, and Tim and Melvin would later record as Timberland and Magoo. But all that was still in their future in 1991.
Speaker 3: And indeed the same. Platonic me with my back.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: SB I stood for surrounded by idiots. Yes, these guys were total geeks long before they were famous and the demo tape was raw, but showed promise with fairly catchy beats for a bunch of wood shopping teenagers.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This demo tape found its way to New Virginia Beach resident Teddy Riley, who also reportedly caught an early version of Pharrell and Chad’s side project, The Neptunes. At a high school talent show, Riley began letting the teenagers hang around his studio. Quote, When Teddy was living here. He was the only major superstar living here. Magoo would later tell Red Bull Music Academy. Teddy was huge. He inspired us because having someone locally where you could ride by their studio was great. We didn’t have anything like that before, unquote. Within a year or two of setting up shop in Virginia Beach, Riley was already making hit records from that studio. Perhaps you knew this one. Bye. Here they are again. Rex in effect.
Speaker 3: All I want to do is on my zoom, zoom, zoom in. All I want to do.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Rump Shaker, a rap single with the pop and B swagger of New Jack Swing would turn out to be a blockbuster hit, peaking at number two on the hot 100. In 1992, the same year as the similarly posterior centric hit baby got back. The rump shaker video shot in Virginia Beach was perhaps predictably filled with lascivious images of bikini clad women.
Speaker 1: Sandy McClure from New York, down for you, but tickling you around Delaware before.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But the more important Virginia Beach connection. What makes Rump Shaker historically significant was that it served as the songwriting debut of 19 year old Pharrell Williams.
Speaker 1: When he was the one to listen to.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Teddy Riley takes a verse on Rump Shaker, and Riley deputized Pharrell to write that verse. It’s got some of the catchiest bits in the song, including some lines Pharrell borrowed from an earlier hit by the band DeBarge.
Speaker 1: I like the stylish cut, too. Well. Is it the little things you do that makes me want to get with you?
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Williams and his buddy Chad Hugo learned from Riley how to produce syncopated hooks and thumping beats. Quote, We were all technicians in Virginia, Riley later told Red Bull Music Academy. It wasn’t because of Pharrell that I signed to the Neptunes, and it wasn’t because of Chad that I signed them. It was both of them. I knew from those two I was going to get a great production team, unquote. The following year, Pharrell made his recording debut on another Riley affiliated production that we’ve played in previous episodes of Hit Parade, the remix of S.W. vs right here that mixes in the hook of Michael Jackson’s human nature on right here. Human nature, the voice you hear chanting S.W. V’s name. That’s Pharrell Williams.
Speaker 3: Maybe this seems to be some insecurity.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Farrell’s cousin Timothy, however, followed his own path out of high school. Tim and Farrell amicably broke up SBI and agreed to pursue their own paths. The future Timberland was even more of a studio rat than Pharrell. He set up a mixing board in his bedroom and worked on beats endlessly when he wasn’t deejaying parties as deejay Timmy Tim.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In his memoir, The Emperor of Sound, Timberland admits he probably would have started producing new jack swing tracks like the ones Teddy Riley was doing if he could have afforded an IMU sampler and an eight O8 drum machine. Tim’s beat making might have remained a hobby if his pal Magoo hadn’t introduced him to an ambitious vocalist from Portsmouth, Virginia, who was singing in a girl group called Phase F, a, y, z e. Her name was Missy Elliott.
Speaker 3: Jim Watson. Tim. What’s it going to be? Well, Mr. Harvey.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Quote, Missy didn’t have the typical look of a pop star. Timberland writes in his memoir. She wasn’t super skinny and she was a tomboy. So many people in the industry would dismiss a girl like Missy out of hand. She came into my home studio and after the polite hellos and a few compliments about my mixtapes, she asked to hear some of the beats I’d been working on. I could tell she was taking it all in. She was pulling the music apart and putting it back together in her head the same way that I did, unquote.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Convinced he had found a kindred spirit, Timberland and Missy began working together on this record in phases. First move was produced by Timberland. Everyone. Is. What also impressed him was Missy’s unshakeable confidence. She was convinced they were destined to be stars, and she generously talked up Tim’s beats whenever she promoted phases, recordings that finally bore fruit.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: When another superstar act passed through town. No vocal troupe Jodeci were the self-styled bad boys of R&B, the opposite of more clean cut groups like Boys to Men signed to Sean Puff Daddy Combs, Uptown Records. Jodeci carried themselves like rappers, but scored hits with sweet soul ballads like their cover of Stevie Wonder’s Late.
Speaker 3: I met up with.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Joe Dorsey’s main songwriter, Donald Great. A.K.A. Devante Swing was forming his own production house called The Basement. And after passing through Virginia Beach and hearing Faye’s singing following a Jodeci concert, Devante Swing. Not only signed Missy Elliott’s girl group, but at Missy’s insistence, also signed up their beatmaker, Tim Mosley.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Devante Swing transported the lot of them from Virginia Beach to an apartment near his studio in Teaneck, New Jersey. And he gave them all new names phase. He renamed Sister and he gave him the nickname Timberland after the hiking shoe that had taken off in the hood in the early nineties. Quote, Nobody outside of Virginia Beach knew D.J. Timmy. Tim Timberland writes in his memoir, but everybody knew Timberlands. So the nickname Stuck.
Speaker 1: I can make a high level, right? I can get your routine and and they go big right in the lobby and get my crew.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And run this. Timberland made his debut as a guest rapper on Giudice’s late 1993 track in the meanwhile. On that same Giudice album, Diary of a Mad Band, Missy got a guest spot. Two on Won’t Waste. You know let’s.
Speaker 4: Get to the double. This stuff is good, nigga Gimme gimme Yeah They got their fingers up amassed but big black sugar.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But these tracks were deep cuts, not hits. And while they were working on Giudice’s material, the focus shifted away from Missy’s group. Sister Devante would forget about Tim and Missy for months at a time, while Giudice toured and his proteges toiled away in the basement. Eventually, Sister did get signed to Elektra Records in 1994 and scored a minor hit with brand new hip hop soul jam in the mold of Mary J. Blige, co-produced by Devante Swing and Timberland and sung by Missy Elliott.
Speaker 4: Spend 506.
Speaker 3: The first. You guys. Big day.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Brand new. Reached a modest number 84 on the R&B chart in the late summer of 1994. Given that poor performance, Elektra shelved the sister album, and Tim and Missy continued to find themselves unheralded, underpaid and often ignored by Devante. Still, for the nearly three years of their apprenticeship in the Jodeci star’s Teaneck Circle, Tim and Missy amassed hours of studio time and began to develop signature sonic styles that would never make it on Jodeci Records.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In his memoir, Timberland writes, quote, I’ll always give credit to Devonte for what I learned. The problem was that we were not consistently compensated, unquote. It wasn’t until 1996 that things finally began to turn around for Missy Elliott and Timberland. First she then he finally broke away from Devante Swing. Each was talking up the other to their acquaintances in the business, helping to get each other gigs as she shifted from singing to rapping.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Elliott was developing a unique vocal style in a memorable guest appearance on a remix of a 1996 Gina Thompson single called The Things That You Do. Missy came up with a delightfully weird lyric that in the great rock and roll tradition of such rhythmic gibberish as a Baba New Bob, I want Bam Boom wasn’t even really English.
Speaker 4: Damn he how he had a ready to use like shoe though you and I choose from the fly being in the to do for Timberland.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The breakthrough came via an equally quirky production he devised for an R&B singer he met during his years with Devante Swing, a man from Washington, D.C., born Elgin Baylor. Lumpkin, who went by the name Ginuwine while they were all still toiling in the basement working alongside the producer Static Major Tim produced a weird, lurching belching club jam for Ginuwine. Everyone in the basement who heard the beat considered it one of the catchiest things they’d ever heard. But it didn’t sound like a Jodeci record. Devante Swing had no interest in it, so Tim took it with him when he left.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Devante His employ and when Ginuwine got signed to Epic Records in 1996, that cymbal and static major track would be genuine. His first single. A cheeky metaphor for sex they called home. No. He first devised it in a studio in New Jersey.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Pony is arguably ground zero for the quirky Virginia Beach Sound before the Neptunes or Missy Elliott scored their own strings of hits. Timberland’s pony production showed how a track could be off kilter, highly syncopated and unusually catchy. Pony soared up the charts, reaching number six on the hot 100 and spending two weeks at number one on the R&B chart, as pivotal as Ginuwine hit was for Timbaland. A new acquaintance had an even greater impact on the arc of both his career and young girl.
Speaker 4: And that you.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And by the time Aaliyah met Timberland and Missy Elliott in 1996, she had already generated a platinum album at the age of 15. She’d also been briefly, secretly married, illegally and under age to that first album’s mastermind, R Kelly. Having cut ties with Kelly and her first album’s label, Olio was looking for a completely new sound.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Quote, I really like what you two have been working on, she told Tim and Missy in a Detroit studio. I really want that edgy, off center style for my next album. I don’t want to play it safe, unquote. Tim and Missy liked Aliya right away. She felt instantly like family to them, and so they felt confident enough to play her a demo of a song produced by Timberland with lyrics by Missy. If Your Girl Only Knew.
Speaker 1: Course.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The rumbling, loping beat the lyrics that revealed a woman’s innermost thoughts. Alicia loved it instantly. Tim and Missy wound up staying in Detroit to write and produce roughly half of Alice’s second album. If Your Girl Only Knew was chosen as the album’s first single, a number one R&B number 11 pop hit in the fall of 1996 and a second hit by Tim and Missy gave the Aaliyah album its title. One in a.
Speaker 3: Million. Goes on.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The One in a million album went double platinum and established Timberland and Missy Elliott as in-demand hitmakers. Missy herself had a high enough profile now that she was invited not only to contribute to the debut album by R&B trio 702, she even provided a featured rap on their number 12 R&B number 32 pop hit Stylo.
Speaker 4: To get on the.
Speaker 3: In the of.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But the coup de Graaf was when Elektra, the label that had signed Sister back in 1994 before shelving their debut, now signed Missy. Going by the nom de rap Missy misdemeanour Elliot as a solo recording artist. Her 1997 debut album would be produced solely by her production partner, Timberland, and together they would make an album all music. Steve Huie would later call, quote, a boundary shattering postmodern masterpiece. Our.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Missy Misdemeanor Elliott’s debut album was packed with unpredictable arrangements and stuttering breakbeats. It shifted the center of both hip hop and pop. Missy both sang and rapped on the album, often shifting back and forth within the same song. The album’s centerpiece was a deconstruction of Memphis soul singer Ann Peebles’s 1973 hit I Can’t Stand the Rain and Stand.
Speaker 4: It’s my window.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Which Missy and Timberland turned into the percolating. Fantasia. The rain. Super duper fly. That parenthetical phrase gave the album its title.
Speaker 4: And meaning of Super Smash Bros.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And the Rain. Super Duper Fly was only a modest hit, issued only as a radio track, not a retail single. It couldn’t chart on the hot 100 and appeared only on the R&B chart as a B-side. But its influence was profound. What made the song iconic was its music video, in which Missy danced in an inflatable patent leather suit resembling a billowy trash bag. Its size inflated visually even further by video on tour hype. Williams’s fisheye lens. Rather than attempt to fit the mold of a svelte R&B diva, Missy made herself extra large, deliberately freaky and visually arresting.
Speaker 3: And in Smash.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The Rain. Super Duper Fly routinely makes lists of the greatest videos of all time. A recent countdown by Rolling Stone magazine ranked it 16th between videos by Duran Duran and the White Stripes, and it propelled the album and Elliott to instant success. Released in July 1997, the Super Duper Fly album debuted at number three on the album chart and quickly went platinum. The CD generated four hits on the R&B and pop charts, including The Da Brat, featuring Sock It to Me.
Speaker 4: And the Second. I’ve been thinking, you know, now I’m.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Gonna go and hit him with tahe, which built on the nonsense lyrics Missy had coined on the Gina Thompson remix just one year earlier.
Speaker 3: I know some of the high.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: At the end of 1997, Missy Misdemeanor Elliott’s Super Duper Fly album was ranked one of the ten best of the year by scores of critics making sixth place on that year’s Village Voice, Pars and JOP poll. Missy and her producer, Timberland, hadn’t just scored a hit. They had rebooted hip hop in their oddball image. Accordingly, their career opportunities exploded. Missy, for her part, took production and guest vocal duties on tracks by everyone from Solo Spice Girl. Melanie B.
Speaker 4: Go on to back and. So I think no one. And they go on to bash.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: To R&B queen Whitney Houston.
Speaker 3: Holly Willoughby’s question submitted to the House of Commons.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: As for Timberland, he was now free to release an album as a frontline artist himself. Tim partnered with his old Virginia Beach buddy Magoo. Their joint album, Welcome to Our World went platinum and gave Timberland and Magoo their own hit with the number 12 pop number one rap single Up Jumps to Boogie. Featuring vocals from both Missy Elliott and Aliya Kitagawa. After a decade of beat making, Tim was still finding hot sounds in unlikely places for his and Magoo’s second single he took. No kidding. The theme to the eighties, NBC-TV hit Knight Rider.
Speaker 1: Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Boom. And turned it into the basis for their 1998 hit clocks strikes.
Speaker 1: People want to know where where I get my rhythm.
Speaker 3: Something when the thing that comes out, when the clock is right, when.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: That beat went so viral. Rapper Busta Rhymes copped it for a remix of his song Turn It Up, Fire It Up, which also rode a Knight Rider sample into the top ten.
Speaker 3: Watch. I won’t want to do it, but we got what’s coming. Grace Potter.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But Timberland had an even cooler beat in his back pocket for 1998, and the beneficiary would be Alicia Barry.
Speaker 1: Uh huh. And I really am jealous of Skip Bayless.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: So here we go. Crammed into a single night of recording to make a deadline for the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy film. Dr. Doolittle. Are you that. Somebody went on to become Alia’s most acclaimed single and the ultimate showcase for Timberland’s beat making genius built out of stuttering guitar licks, beatboxing, a halting rap from Tim himself, and even a sample of a baby cooing that Tim wove into the rhythm in homage to baby girl Aliya.
Speaker 4: Are you responsible for?
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The track sounded futuristic, almost impossible to sing over. But Alicia’s fluttery start stopped vocals floated above the beat and tied together. Are you that somebody reaching number four on hot 100 airplay. At the peak of the great war against the single and number one for eight weeks on the R&B airplay chart are you that somebody became alia’s most enduring hit riding the charts for nearly eight months and still among her most played tracks today it affirmed Timberland as the bleeding edge producer of his day.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Meanwhile, Tim’s cousin, Pharrell Williams, and his partner, Chad Hugo, were taking a more circuitous route to production supremacy. Though the duo who called themselves The Neptunes broke earlier than Tim thanks to their mentorship under Teddy Riley. By the mid-nineties, Pharrell and Shad found themselves occasional guns for hire, back benchers still feeling out the contours of their sound. In 1996, while Timberland was producing Ginuwine and Aleah, the Neptunes were writing and producing a track for Sean Combs, his girl group PROTEGES Total. And though the beat on totals when Boy meets Girl was built out of a BGS sample, the dry, brittle drums and stripped down production hinted at the Neptunes future direction.
Speaker 3: Making their international.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In 1997, the Neptunes sound evolved a little further on another track in the Sean Puff Daddy Combs universe. Rapper Massey’s track Lookin at Me. It’s minor key piano and synth lines became another Neptune’s sonic signature.
Speaker 3: You. Stand by me. Come on. Why? You won’t be.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Chosen as the final single from Macy’s multi-platinum Harlem World Album Lookin at Me peaked at number eight on both the pop and R&B charts in the summer of 1998, giving Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo their first official top ten hit as frontline producers. But it was another hit later in 98 by rapper Noriega that finally established the Neptunes sound once and for all.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Super Thug was built out of a melody line from a Korg synthesizer programmed to emulate the medieval instrument, the cloud of a court. That nagging, proudly synthetic sound totally unnatural and in your face, cut through the radio like glass breaking.
Speaker 1: I don’t care. But when you get caught, remember that I don’t care if you didn’t eat up the atmosphere.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Let me now be though. Super Thug only reached number 15 on the R&B chart and number 36 on the hot 100. It was deeply influential. Suddenly, a range of artists wanted a piece of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo and their uncluttered, dry, brittle production sound, including Wu-Tang Clan rapper Old Dirty Bastard, for whom the duo produced the top ten hit Got Your Money.
Speaker 1: Cause I’ve come with your scowl. Now that you heard my voice, you couldn’t get another one with Moyes If you want to look good and not be Bobby, yo, you better give me that money.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And New Orleans rapper Mystikal, whose career was massively boosted by the Neptunes immortal production on his top 20 hit Shake Your Ass.
Speaker 1: Working with Shaggy watches the shit get some attention for your players and fans right now.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Like Timberland, who found his equal muse and ultimate frontwoman in Missy Elliott. Around this time, Pharrell and Chad teamed with a female discovery of their own, a young New Yorker just out of high school named Collis Rogers, who recorded simply as callous and out of the box, Cleese projected fierceness.
Speaker 3: This song is for all the. You buy them? And I know young men like you caught out.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: There was a diatribe against cheating men, an unconventional R&B track with the swagger of a hip hop beef record and the crunch of alternative rock. Pharrell and Chad wrote it as a showcase for Kallis, who possesses a sweet singing voice, but quite literally shouts the chorus.
Speaker 3: Right now. Like right now.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: A top ten R&B hit in 1999 and a top ten pop hit in half a dozen countries worldwide. Caught out there was artistically a major win for both Kelly’s and the Neptunes. Announcing her as a new talent and affirming their status as top tier producers, it was also deeply admired by their old friend Tim. Coincidentally, when the Neptunes were recording with colleagues in Master Sound Studios in Virginia Beach, Timberland and Missy Elliott were working next door. They all remained admirers of each other’s work. And in this priceless interview segment recorded two decades later, at which Pharrell and Timberland shared a stage. Tim recalled hearing the track for the first time.
Speaker 5: And me and Missy was working in the I guess I would call it Studio A and then they had a Studio B Yeah. And I walked to the back door. Ms. was in there doing something and I heard.
Speaker 1: I hate you so much. My back said, Missy, you got to hear this. And I was like, Oh, man, I wish I.
Speaker 5: Had made that big. That was the beat. And I didn’t make it. But for real me, I was like, Oh, this is great. I just kept this to the door.
Speaker 1: She’s like, Come on, come on. We got to finish this record.
Speaker 5: I said, I’m done.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Pharrell and Shad. Tim and Missy.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: By the turn of the millennium, each team had found a path to music biz supremacy with their own unique takes on the syncopated, spacious Virginia Beach sound. In some cases, they even worked with the same artists showcasing their respective styles. Take Jay-Z, for example. In 1999, Timberland produced Jay’s acclaimed single with Texas rap duo Yuji K Big Pimpin. And it was a paragon of Tim’s clever way with an unconventional sample. Its memorable flute sample was taken from Egyptian artist Hossam Ramsey’s track Cassada Cassada.
Speaker 1: Re doing a spin. Check them out now. Big fan of the lady we doing big band number NYC.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Big Pimpin reached number 18 on the hot 100 and number six on the R&B chart in the summer of 2000. Less than six months later, Jay-Z was back on both charts with the Neptunes produced I Just Wanna Love You Parentheses Give It to Me. This track showcased not only the duo’s cloud record synth lines, but also the falsetto voice of Pharrell Williams, who sang the chorus. Jay loved that chorus so much, he lip synched it in the song’s video.
Speaker 1: Because I just want you to know that you know where I belong. But what about the.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: I Just Wanna Love You was an even bigger hit for Jay-Z, reaching number 11 pop, number one R&B. It would not be the last time Pharrell’s falsetto was heard on a chart topping hit.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: As for Missy Elliott, she was now both a superstar and a mogul. She launched her own label, The Gold Mind, distributed by Elektra Records, and it produced a hit quickly with Make It Hot, a number five pop, number two R&B hit by singer Nicole Raye. She went by the mono name Nicole and like Missy, hailed from Portsmouth, Virginia.
Speaker 1: Watch on.
Speaker 4: Deadline. She was. You need money to make you happy.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Elliott commanded the producer’s chair for most of Nicole’s album. The Missy Elliott sound, such as it was, was rooted more in lyrics and attitude women expressing sexual agency, sass and joie de vive. You could hear it on a song she co-wrote and produced for 702, the Girl Group Trio who had helped break Missy in 1996. They took the Elliott penned Where My Girls At to number four pop, number three R&B in the summer of 1999. And Missy doubled down on not only the sass but the sexual freaky Ms. on her own single. Hot boys are top five pop number one R&B smash later that same year.
Speaker 4: I like those. Say what you want, but I shall be driving this. Jeeps and the band Jeeps in the.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Hot Boys was the biggest single from the Real World. Missy’s own second album, which came packed with hits, guests and attitude. For example, the lead single She’s A Bitch, which used the titular expletive as both a term of scorn and admiration. Often the bitch was Missy herself.
Speaker 4: She’s a bitch when you say my name. Donald Trump. Look my way. She’s a bitch. She’s so back on the road.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Elliott’s bond with Timberland was as strong as ever. He produced all of the real world’s hits, and within a year, they were back at work on a third Missy Elliott album, which would come out in 2001 under the title. Missy So Addictive and its lead single might well have been the most advanced progressive track the pair had produced yet on Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin. Timberland had experimented with sampling Egyptian music, but on Missy Elliott’s Get Your Freak On, Tim made Big Pimpin seem almost conventional.
Speaker 1: Codecademy, another educator, although that survival struggle.
Speaker 4: Had been me.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Has a hit single ever had a more descriptive title? Get Your Freak On Delivered exactly what it promised. A freaky, instantly infectious amalgam of globetrotting sounds, Japanese phrases, tip tapping, bhangra beats a sample of a German record that itself sampled Punjabi singer master Dil Bahar, even an instant where Missy audibly spits.
Speaker 4: Quite hushing mouthed silence. When I spit it out in your face, open your mouth, give you a taste. Hello.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: It should have been too weird for the radio. But by 2001 Missy Timbaland and by extension, the Neptunes had retrained pop fans ears to embrace the weird Get Your Freak On reached number seven on the hot 100. In June of oh one, Elliott’s second ever top ten hit after Hot Voice, and it won universal, critical acclaim even more than the rain super duper fly had.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Get Your Freak On ranked first among all singles in the 2001 passenger top critics poll in 2021. In an update to its 500 greatest Songs of All Time poll Rolling Stone ranked Get Your Freak on eighth overall right above singles by the Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac. Quote, Even after 20 years, the magazine said, it still sounds like the future. Now a consistent hit maker, Missy Elliott, came right back to the top 40 just a month later. And speaking of freaking, this one minute man was a shameless ode to female sexual gratification. It reached number 15.
Speaker 1: Wake me up. Show me what you got. Because I. The one minute she was just.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Around the same time Olaiya was releasing a new album as well. In the years since her and Timberland’s 1998 triumph with Are You That Somebody? The artist Tim, affectionately called Baby Girl, had become a cross-media megastar, not only continuing to score hits, but also breaking onto the silver screen.
Speaker 1: Stoltzfoos.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In 2000, Aliyah made her movie debut alongside martial artist Jet Li in the Action Romance Romeo Must Die. From the soundtrack to that film. Aleah scored her first ever hot 100 number one with Try Again, on which producer Timberland rapped about giving her a dope beat to stump to.
Speaker 1: We should know you without a doping stepped out.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And by 2001, after a busy five years, Aleah was finally preparing her third album, which would be self-titled and would feature several collaborations with Timberland. The album’s lead single, We Need a Resolution, continued the globetrotting theme of Tim’s recent work with Jay-Z and Missy Elliott, sampling a do duke from a film score to give the track a middle Eastern vibe.
Speaker 1: Oh.
Speaker 4: You have so much going on, right? Then I sleep on the couch.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Julia’s album dropped in July 2001 and debuted all the way up at number two on the Billboard 200. Her highest album chart position to date. The CD was packed with Timberland tracks like More Than a Woman. A Planned Future single for which Aliyah shot a music video in Los Angeles in August 2001.
Speaker 4: I’ll be.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: After shooting that video in L.A., Aliyah boarded a plane to the Bahamas to shoot another clip for a different track called Rock the Boat. And it was on that trip coming back from the shoot that tragedy struck. On August 25th, 2001. Aleah and her entourage packed onto a Cessna twin engine plane that became overloaded and crashed shortly after takeoff. The pilot and all eight passengers were killed. Aleah was just 22 years old.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The mourning for Alia across the music industry and among fans was profound. The self-titled Aliyah album rose to number one on the Billboard 200 just after the tragedy. And, by the way, just days before the horrific tragedy of 911, with no prompting from the record label, radio stations and grieving fans homed in on a track in the middle of the album called I Care for You, which had been written for Aliyah by Missy Elliott and produced by Timberland, the two creators who’d gotten their biggest break in 1996 thanks to the teenager they called Baby Girl until.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Like Tim and Missy were profoundly affected by the loss of aliya and it cast a pall over their work for years. Mourning the loss would test their friendship and dig an emotional hole that would take years to climb out of. Even as they continued to score some of their biggest hits and enjoy some of their greatest chart triumphs.
Speaker 4: That let you know baby. You know, I.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: By 2001, the Neptunes, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo had massively grown their clientele. That year alone, they produced hits for everyone from Usher to Ray J to Foxy Brown. But one particular client was drawing more attention than all the others.
Speaker 4: I know, and maybe that of their friendship and the need to do what I feel like doing. So let me go.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: I’m a Slave For You was the lead single of Britney Spears 2001 album simply titled Britney? It was a big departure for Spears, whose last two CDs had led off with tracks produced by Swedish pop mastermind Max Martin. I’m a Slave For You was a track Pharrell and Chad had originally demoed for Janet Jackson. But when she passed, Spears eagerly looking to shed her teen pop image, jumped at the chance to record it.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: She premiered the single at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards in a headline grabbing performance that found Britney wearing a barely there outfit and a massive albino python snake. The performance at the VMAs nearly overshadowed the song, which was only a medium sized hit for Britney, peaking at number 27 on the hot 100. Critics compared it not only to Janet Jackson, but also Prince. And even despite the modest chart performance, it was a successful crossover for all involved.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Now let me bring generated her most R&B leaning track to date. It was actually the first of her songs to crack the R&B chart, and the Neptunes proved they could work with a center of the bullseye pop star. Indeed, it could be argued that sonically, Britney adapted to them more than they did to her. By 2002, which would prove the high watermark of the Neptunes career. As producers Pharrell and Chad were pulling a range of acts over to their side of the hit making street. That year alone, they applied their bouncy, skittering hip hop meets pop sound to hits by rapper Busta Rhymes.
Speaker 1: When she goes, Say, what are you going to tell her brother? Conversely.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: To deliver the ethical boy band and sink.
Speaker 1: How could you be my girlfriend? Outreach. You know.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And as noted at the top of this episode, NSYNC singer turned soloist Justin Timberlake.
Speaker 3: I got nothing.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But the most explosive of these hits came from Saint Louis rapper Nelly Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo built his track out of an interpolation of an old hit by Go-Go pioneer Chuck Brown. His 1979 R&B number one smash, Bustin Loose.
Speaker 3: Feel like Bustin Loose, but loose giving streaming first.
Speaker 1: I feel like busting loose.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The Neptunes flipped this hook, added their percolating percussion and Nelly’s rap, and turned it into the 2002 song of the summer Hot in Here.
Speaker 1: I feel like busted. And I feel like.
Speaker 3: That, you know, nobody up the so baby, tell me what to do. I said it’s getting hot.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In June of oh two, hot in here topped the hot 100, becoming the Neptunes first ever number one pop single, and it stayed there for seven weeks. Billboard ranked it the third biggest hit of that year. What made 2002 so remarkable for The Neptunes was their versatility, their pop acceptance hadn’t damaged their hip hop credibility. The Neptunes produced the year’s most acclaimed rap album, Lord Willin by Clipse, a pair of brothers who’d known Pharrell since their days as teenagers in Virginia Beach. The CD by Clipse generated two cutting edge top ten R&B Top 40 pop hits.
Speaker 1: Grinding shit.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And when the last.
Speaker 1: Time when the last it like this whole song. And make the girls.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And that same year, Williams and Hugo released a rock leaning band album they’d been tinkering with since 2001, a side project they called N.E.R.D. Which supposedly stood for No One Ever Really Dies. But most fans appropriately just called nerd now.
Speaker 4: And I don’t know.
Speaker 1: How I got something called punk, got some and I got it from home and I got it.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Nerds debut album in search of was 2000 Chou’s sleeper hit never rising above number 56 on the album chart, but quietly going gold and even spinning off minor hit songs at multiple radio formats, including the R&B chart where lap dance reached number 85.
Speaker 3: So maybe one of the three.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And more remarkably, the modern rock chart where rock star reached number 36. You can’t beat me.
Speaker 4: I’m standing on the top of.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Farrow and Chan had pulled off a neat trick. All of their handiwork sounded distinctly like them. You could often guess when a hit was a Neptunes track, but each song built its own little world.
Speaker 1: And I wish.
Speaker 3: We could run to the sun and never come back.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: For their part, Missy Elliott and Timberland weren’t having a bad 2002 either, despite the lingering pain from the 2001 death of aliya. To distract themselves, Missy and Tim poured themselves into their work, both for others and for Missy herself. One of their highest profile success stories was a singer they’d met during their years with Devante Swing.
Speaker 4: First, there goes my shirt up over my head. Oh, my gosh. That. Drop in my.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Charlene. Kids who went by the stage name tweet. This, by the way, was years before Twitter existed. Tweet. Scored a gold album and a top ten single with the Timberland produced. Missy Elliott penned hit. Oops. Oh, my. Missy Still Finding New Ways to express female sexual agency wrote the song about a woman’s self admiration and arousal at the sight of her own beauty.
Speaker 4: Reflection of my self. That’s why, I guess my boobs and my shirt.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But Missy and Tim’s greatest triumph of 2002 was Elliott’s fourth studio album Under Construction, which Missy dedicated to Alia. You would think the album might be somber, but Missy decided her commemoration of Alia would be an all out party led by her all time biggest pop hit. A song that a year after Get Your Freak On was no less innovative, no less ebullient.
Speaker 1: This year.
Speaker 3: On the request.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Work. It was the ultimate affirmation that the public had acclimated to the Virginia Beach team’s wackiness. It was Missy at her most irresistible, even when it was unintelligible, by the way. For those who still don’t know, that backwards line in the.
Speaker 4: Course is your wedding yet.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: It’s. That’s just I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it played backwards. Right after Missy has rapped that line forwards, the song was like a collection of means before we had a word for means. Animal noises to represent male body parts. References to Prince Halle Berry and the character Kunta Kinte from Roots and as best as anyone can tell, the first popular recorded reference to a calla pigeon woman’s posterior as a bit darker.
Speaker 4: Don’t you think you can handle this? Don’t. Don’t take my no more than my ass go blue. But the light’s on. So you see what I can do.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The music video, too, was mesmerizing and joyous with appearances by producer Timberland and a limber child dancer named Alyson Stoner with Kinetic Dance Moves by Missy and a troupe of break dancers. It would go on to win Video of the Year at the MTV VMAs one year later.
Speaker 4: I don’t say a little dance. Come on, girls, girls, get the abs.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: For the song work. It climbed all the way to number two on the hot 100 in November 2002. And it surely would have gone to number one if it didn’t have the misfortune to peak behind Eminem’s 12 week blockbuster Lose Yourself Work. It held at number two for ten straight weeks, the longest run in the runner up slot without reaching number one. A record Missy tied with Foreigner’s 1981 hit. Waiting for a girl like you. Missy had her revenge on Eminem, if you can call it that.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: With the critics work it topped the 2000 to Paths and drop poll the second straight year. Elliott took that title from the critics. And two decades later, it ranks number 56 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Song poll. Its legacy is secure. Entering 2003, Missy Elliott’s Under-Construction album was platinum on its way to double platinum, making it her all time best seller. The album produced another tongue twisting hit with gossip folks, a number, a team up with rapper Ludacris. It really.
Speaker 4: Know, know.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But this massive success would be hard to follow up. Missy and Timberland returned to the studio right away in 2003 to produce another album, and that’s when their collaboration started to fray. The pair reportedly bickered in the studio, with Elliott rejecting most of the beats Timberland brought her. In his memoir, Tim theorizes that they were, quote, both still mourning aleah and they were taking that sublimated grief out on each other.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: When the album This Is Not a test reached stores in the fall of oh three, it did go platinum on the strength of Missy’s reputation, but it fell short of the top ten. Her only album to do so and it’s only hit pass that Dutch an attempt to recreate the zaniness of work. It underperformed on the charts, peaking at number 27 pop. Number 17, R&B. Put it.
Speaker 1: Down for history gets right past.
Speaker 4: The.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: It would wind up being the last time a Missy Elliott album would be primarily produced by Timberland. Two years later, for her follow up, the cookbook, Timberland produced only a couple of deep cuts, and the album’s lead single, The number three Smash Lose Control, was produced by Elliott herself.
Speaker 4: To make their money wedding $40,000.
Speaker 3: Everybody chose which of best.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Timberland did produce one more iconic hit in 2003, this time for Jay-Z’s The Black Album, the acclaimed favorite of future president Barack Obama. Dirt off your.
Speaker 1: Shoulder for real cheerfully like a gold rush to show business trips to golf us to show us all this crazy baby. Don’t forget that boy.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Don’t you, kid. But after dirt reached number five on the hot 100 in early 2004, Timberland went into a two year wilderness period where most of the tracks he produced failed to hit, missing the top ten or even the top 40. Tim kept himself busy working on albums for artists ranging from Brandy to L.L. Cool J to Bubba Sparks. But there was a sense in the industry that maybe his production style had peaked. Meanwhile, his peer, Pharrell, was only moving more toward the front.
Speaker 1: Here we are, low level, modern.
Speaker 3: We know how to throw, you know, one.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In the summer of 2003, Pharrell issued his debut single under his own name, titled Fronting a languid hip hop jam, sung entirely in falsetto with a supporting rap from his friend Jay Z. It was an auspicious career launch, reaching number five on the hot 100 by the fall and suggesting that the toothsome, tattooed producer could become a star artist in his own right.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But for the time being, Pharrell was too preoccupied. Most of his vocals were deployed on singles. He and Chad Hugo produced four other artists, including Snoop Dogg’s number six hit Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. And The Debonair Change Clothes, the first single from Jay-Z’s The Black Album.
Speaker 1: Male Change Got Nasty. First.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Behind the mixing board, the Neptunes were still sonically pushing the envelope. At the end of oh three, they gave their protege, Karlis, her biggest ever hit with Milkshake, a number three smash. Built off of a skeletal synthesizer beat.
Speaker 3: My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they’re like, It’s better than yours. And mine is better than yours.
Speaker 4: I could teach you, but I have to charge my milkshake brings.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And in 2004, the even more stripped down drop it like it’s hot gave Snoop Dogg his first ever hot 100 number one hit.
Speaker 1: Take a second rate of fat. You should sing for the ending before you suck on those skateboard to win the pimps in the crib. Mom, drop it like it’s hot. Drop it like.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: These hits helped paper over the Neptunes hit that had the wrong kind of notoriety.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Pharrell and Chad had written and produced the third single from Justin Timberlake’s Justified album, a sumptuous dance track called Rock Your Body, that reached number five in 2003.
Speaker 3: Don’t be so sweet talking like this.
Speaker 1: I’m one of your body beats.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Unfortunately. Rock Your Body later became infamous when Timberlake performed it at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show while triggering the so-called wardrobe malfunction on Janet Jackson. The line going to have you naked by the end of this song. The Neptunes wrote that line.
Speaker 3: I can’t wait. Oh. Come on, Major. By the end.
Speaker 1: Of the summer.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Even though it is now hard to hear this song without recalling the incident because the societal impact of the wardrobe malfunction largely and unfairly fell on Janet Jackson. Not Justin Timberlake. Not much rubbed off on The Neptunes, either. In fact, one year later, in the spring of 2005, the Neptunes scored yet another number one pop hit, and this was their first for a woman performer.
Speaker 4: After smash hit.
Speaker 3: All the girls to be like is just around them. Just the ones that still happen.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This work, it could be called a mean song before means Hollaback Girl was a clap back song before clap backs. Gwen Stefani, frontwoman for the Scar rock band, no doubt claimed she wrote it in response to some derogatory comments made against her by rocker Courtney Love. Pharrell Williams channeled that sass into a track built like a cheerleader chant, its beat borrowed from Queen’s We Will Rock You. It’s basic structure from Toni Basil’s Mickey and its titular phrase from a prior hit by rapper Fabolous called Youngin Holla Back.
Speaker 3: Getting there for both of us to be around, that can still happen. But they know how to like girl. They know how to bet on.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Gwen Stefani’s solo debut album, Love Angel Music Baby. Hollaback Girl was by far the biggest hit, reaching the top of the hot 100 in just six weeks after prior Stefani singles produced by Nelly Hooper and Dr. Dre underperformed. It was the first single of the digital era to sell more than a million downloads. Later that year, Gwen Stefani returned the favor to Pharrell, singing the hook on his second solo single. Can I Have It Like that?
Speaker 1: And I have it like that. You go like, can I have it like that?
Speaker 4: You got like that?
Speaker 1: Can I have it like that? You’ve got to like can I have it like that?
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: At the halfway mark of the aughts, Pharrell Williams had established himself, along with production partner Chad Hugo, as the king of quirky, bespoke hit making. It had been a couple of years since Pharrell’s cousin Timberland had scored a major hit, but that was all about to change.
Speaker 1: She sees the rigid male flat, double skeletal beyond. It’s just like a body move. It turns on she like the way my hands use the body for hand warmers. And all I can’t do is go off like transformer. See, I can do it this way. I can do it that away from the crib and get to that new Miami getaway.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In a 2006 interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Timberland said, quote, I don’t really like where music is at right now. It’s boring, too. Watered down. Nobody’s taken chances. It’s all in the box and the box gets too tight. Somebody’s got to break the box. Busted open. To me, making music is about taking risks, unquote.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: When the man born, Timothy Mosley, gave this interview, he was coming out of his most fallow period of Hitmaking since his breakthrough a decade earlier. But Timberland’s hitless period was about to end in high style. In part, this was due to a new vanity label, Mosley music group that Tim launched in 2006 with Universal Music. But really, the seeds for Tim’s commercial return had been planted years earlier at the height of his first wave of success.
Speaker 4: As began.
Speaker 3: To. So what was it like? Turn up the letter.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This is a remix Timberland produced of a 2001 hit called Turn Off the Light by Nelly Furtado, a Canadian singer songwriter of Portuguese descent from British Columbia. For Toto’s music in the early aughts could best be described as pop rock with a WORLDBEAT vibe. Tim’s 2001 remix brought out the hip hop elements in for Toto’s pop hit.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Five years later, when Nelly Furtado contract with the now defunct DreamWorks Records label, was absorbed into the Universal Music group, Timberland signed for Toto to his Mosley music group label and began producing an album for her. For Toto’s prior LP and earnest world beat collection called Folklore had been a flop in the U.S.. Together, she and Tim decided to reinvent her career from the ground up. Neither of them had much to lose.
Speaker 3: Whatever you love about.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Promiscuous was a total 180 from Nelly Furtado, whose previous output, even at her populist, her early hits, had not been either as hip hop derived nor as sexually bold. But from its title to its wrapped verses traded back and forth with Timberland himself, who was given featured billing on the track. Promiscuous presented Nelly as a reborn club diva. Slinky, sexy and Sly.
Speaker 4: Could handle.
Speaker 1: The coming from last name crowd, recognizing I’m a label that I’m.
Speaker 4: A big girl. I can handle myself.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But they forget. Promiscuous reached number one on the hot 100 in early July 2006, the same week the album she and Timberland produced called Loose, debuted at number one on the album chart. The CD was a global smash in the U.K. that same week, a different loose track called Maneater was number one no more.
Speaker 3: If you want.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: For Tartous, improbable reinvention was just as momentous for Timberland. Promiscuous was his first hot 100 number one as a producer. Since Ali is Try Again back in 2000, Timberland would not wait long for another chart topper, however. Actually, he waited about a month.
Speaker 1: I’m bringing back the model bones here.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Sexy Back was the first single from Future Sex Love Sounds, the second solo album by Justin Timberlake, which Timberland executive produced. As on promiscuous Timberland could be heard all over sexy back trading lines with Justin and directing the song’s kinetic flow. Almost instantly, the song’s titular refrain I’m Bringing Sexy Back became a catchphrase.
Speaker 1: Me Go, go, go, go. Let me already with you.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Quote, The Justin single is a risk. Timberland told the Guardian. It’s a different record. Some people say they like it. Some people don’t know. But when you hear it the second time, that’s when it starts to hit you. A record like that will stay around longer than a record that hits you right away, unquote. It didn’t take long to catch on in its eighth week on the hot 100. Sexy back reached number one just a month after promiscuous fell out of the top spot for Toto’s hit had spent six weeks on top. Timberlake’s settled in for seventh producer. Timberland had gone from virtually hitless to the biggest hit maker on the charts in just a few months. And he wasn’t done.
Speaker 4: With another woman to take his spot. My.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: My Love. Justin Timberlake’s follow up hit reached number one just three weeks after Sexy Back finished its run on top. With an innovative structure marked by swirling keyboards and a pulsating beat. My Love was the most critically acclaimed track on future sex Love Sounds. Pitchfork magazine named it their top single of 2006.
Speaker 1: I do this because Ducasse is holding. Who knows what can bring up the closeness.
Speaker 4: I can see this on a bench is sitting on the glasses.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This could be my baby. My Love was Timberland’s most acclaimed production since his work with Missy Elliott, and it affirmed that he still had both the ear for a hit and the ability to make the left of center become the middle of the road. Rolling into 2007 productions by Timberland just kept topping the charts. In February, another single by Nelly Furtado, the brooding, shimmering sea. It right reached number one and was followed the very next week by a third number one from Justin.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The equally brooding what goes around comes around. Timberland could be heard on both hits, not just as their sonic craftsman, but even adding small vocal touches like a Hollywood auteur.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Tim was making cameos across his body of work, so it stood to reason that this might be the time for him to try stepping out in front once again for the first time since the late nineties. After all the hits Timberland had produced for Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake, they were eager to return the favor, and they stepped up right away.
Speaker 3: You might see some girl from months gone by. We want to see the band.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Officially build to Timberland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake. Give It to Me was the first single from Shock Value, Tim’s first album under his own name in more than half a decade. Give It to Me reached number one on the hot 100 in April 2007 and shock value spent the rest of that year spinning off hits. These included the bubbling electro funk track The Way I Are, featuring singer Keri Hilson, a number three hit in August.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And then in November, the number two hit, apologize. Which in a flex was credited to Timberland featuring one republic.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Tim had only subtly remixed this melodramatic ballad by One Republic, a Colorado Springs pop rock band fronted by singer songwriter Ryan Tedder. But One Republic didn’t mind taking second billing to the producer who had given them their breakthrough over the next decade.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: TEDDER And One Republic became frequent hitmakers, scoring with such singles as counting stars. The hits from shock value affirmed timberland’s newfound clout. Talk about shock. Tim’s second act was now even more fruitful than his first. As he was sought out by a range of artists across the spectrum of pop, rock and R&B, everyone from Rihanna.
Speaker 3: Three. We have.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: To Bjork. Shall. Go. To Duran Duran.
Speaker 1: Elizabeth Jackson.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Even former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Not all of these collaborations were hits, but their mere existence rounded out the image of Timberland as the go to producer for the accessibly unconventional.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The culmination of this wave came when Tim was hired to produce the last top five hit by a certain queen of Pop.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Madonna’s 4 minutes. A song essentially about its running time and its own existence was designed by Timberland to be fit for a queen with blaring synthesizers, sounding a royal fanfare, drill team percussion and supporting vocals by both himself and Justin Timberlake. It was the lead single from Hard Candy, The Chameleon, like Madonna’s latest effort to keep pace with hip hop era pop. When it peaked at number three in the spring of 2008, 4 minutes became Madonna’s highest charting hit in eight years.
Speaker 3: But if I die tonight. Like I say, I did what I wanted.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: For a follow up, Madonna went with a track produced by the other premiere Virginia Beach production team, The Neptunes. Only the track Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo produced for Madonna was not nearly as big a hit. Give it to me. Only reached number 57 on the hot 100.
Speaker 3: You know, one time.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: This was a stark indication of how Fortune had reversed between Timberland and Pharrell in just a couple of years. The two never regarded their work as any kind of direct competition, but it was notable that often when one man’s career was hot, the others hit a lull, as Tim’s had in the early to mid aughts while Pharrell’s was ascendant. To be fair, the late aughts were not a total drought for Pharrell and Chad. In 2006, they scored one more chart topper as producers manning the boards for the ludicrous smash moneymaker.
Speaker 1: Shake your moneymaker like somebody the way I see you on my radar, didn’t you? You know I got it. If you want to come and stand next to this one and I got.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: It hit number one on the hot 100 in October of oh six, sandwiched between, ironically enough, sexy back and My Love. But after Moneymaker, the Neptunes as a production team never scored another chart topping hit for the rest of the decade. Pharrell and Chad would periodically issue new music under their nerd alter ego. But behind the scenes, Pharrell began to strike out on his own, both as a writer, producer and an artist. So while Timberland was scoring another wave of hits in 2009 and 2010 with support from Justin Timberlake.
Speaker 1: You take note of your body language. Let me talk to you about.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The and the then newly emerging rapper Drake.
Speaker 1: You just start standing there. But I’m gonna need you to say something like some.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Pharrell Williams challenged himself with new solo projects. One of these took years to bear fruit on the charts.
Speaker 3: It’s the dark side and I get my way.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Steve In 2010, at the invitation of film composer Hans Zimmer, Pharrell recorded the soundtrack of the hit animated film Despicable Me. Though he had produced songs for movie soundtracks in the past, this was Pharrell’s first time composing most of a single film’s soundtrack and score. Among the artists Williams brought in for Despicable Me was a vocalist he’d worked with half a decade earlier. Blue eyed soul singer Robin Thicke. The Neptunes had produced a minor hit single for Thicke back in 2005.
Speaker 1: I love you like I love you. I love, love you. Want to love you. Go I love you. Come and go when I love you. Oh.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And since then, Williams and Thicke had stayed in touch for Despicable Me. Robin Thicke contributed vocals on a song called My Life. These 2010 collaborations would spin off in different directions for Pharrell three years later, when Despicable Me spawned a sequel.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Williams was brought back to oversee another soundtrack, this time for Despicable Me two. The film’s directors issued a songwriting challenge to Pharrell. They needed a song for Grew, the film franchise’s evil character, who was in a state of uncharacteristic happiness. After nearly a dozen tries, Pharrell pulled off the assignment, a joyous slice of retro soul that he called simply happy.
Speaker 4: Because if you film.
Speaker 1: Oh, because if you feel like happiness.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And the film makers were ecstatic over Pharrell’s finished song. But even as Despicable Me two topped the box office in the summer of 2013. The studio and soundtrack label Universal chose not to promote Happy. Why? Well, because at that very moment, Pharrell Williams already had two songs on top of the charts, and one of them was led by the guy who’d helped Pharrell with the previous Despicable Me.
Speaker 3: I know you all know I know who you are.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. Where do we begin? We talked about Blurred Lines 2013 Blockbuster Song of the Summer and our hits of the 20 tens episode of Hit Parade. The song is now infamous for being the subject of a precedent setting lawsuit in which the estate of the late Marvin Gaye.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Successfully convinced a jury that the song, primarily written by Pharrell, stole the atmosphere, but not the melody of Gaye’s 1977 number one hit, Got to Give It Up Briefly. Blurred Lines was an intentional homage to the Gaye song. That was the point. You can’t copyright atmosphere, but I digress.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Regardless of the legal headaches, it later brought Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. Blurred Lines was a positively massive song in 2013, number one for 12 straight weeks. It was so massive. In fact, it held off this other, more acclaimed song from Reaching the Top. It had to settle for number two.
Speaker 1: She’s the fundamentals of this song. I’m up all night to get solo. She’s up all night lookin for a more fun night to get gets lucky.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: French EDM duo Daft Punk’s universally praised Grammy winning disco jam with vocals by Pharrell and irresistible guitar by rock and R&B legend Nile Rodgers for five weeks in the summer of 2013. Blurred Lines and Get Lucky held down the number one and number two spots.
Speaker 3: You give keeps some good.
Speaker 1: What is this, some feeling?
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: While giving Pharrell Williams, a vocalist and co-star songwriter on both hits a hammerlock on the top of the Hot 100. Not since the peak of the Neptunes had Pharrell been so ubiquitous and never as a credited artist, even if on both tracks he was in a supporting role. Which brings us back to Happy, a song on which Pharrell was the only credited artist.
Speaker 1: Bring Me Down Came Bring Me Down. He Loves to bring me down came.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Even after Despicable Me two was out of theatres, Pharrell knew the song was too good to let go. In the fall of 2013, he dropped 24 hours of Happy a day long music video featuring scores of citizens and celebrities in Los Angeles singing along to his song. It was billed as the first ever 24 hour music video, and the attention it drew began to propel happy up the charts.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: By March of 2014, Happy had not only reached number one on the hot 100, it had been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. When Pharrell performed it on the 2014 Oscars telecast, he became the first person in history to have the number one song in the country as a nominee at the Academy Awards.
Speaker 3: Because I Love You. How? Let me give you like.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Happiness stayed at number one for ten weeks and ranked as Billboard’s top song of 2014.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Pharrell relaunched his solo career, dropping a new album called Girl, which quickly spawned a Top 40 follow up hit with Come Get It, Babe, a duet with Miley Cyrus. Among the other guests on Pharrell’s Girl album was Justin Timberlake. He. People who have, of course, always been more associated with producer Timberland. But Justin had gotten Tim back on the charts to.
Speaker 1: Show.
Speaker 3: You a few things. So you guys.
Speaker 1: Get out.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In 2013, seven years after future sex love sounds. Timberlake returned with the album. The 2020 experience produced by Timberlake. And once again, they scored a raft of hits, including the number three Jay-Z collaboration Suit and Tie and the number two hit mirrors, which benefited from Timberland’s most anthemic production.
Speaker 3: Cars and have made the biggest.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: In essence, after more than a decade of normalizing the unusual Pharrell and Timbaland, two men now in their early forties responsible for the squarely mainstream hits Happy and mirrors have become kind of norm core themselves. Though Timberland would never quite return to his heady days of the late aughts, his work with Timberlake and Jay Z gave him one last wave of hits in the mid 20 tens, including Holy Grail, the title track from Jay’s album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Speaker 1: You can be so unfair.
Speaker 3: From it comes.
Speaker 1: Holy Grail.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And Pharrell. Arguably, his post Neptunes hit streak just kept going. Maybe not quite at the torrid pace of 22 through 25, but Pharrell had a pretty great 20 tens producing hits for Beyoncé. Ariana Grande did.
Speaker 3: Kitty, kitty, kitty. Living in New Zealand. Talk to me and back me and a flashlight in the dead of night. The bottle belongs to his landlord.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: As well as I’ll bet you didn’t know this song was Pharrell’s handiwork. Kendrick Lamar’s now legendary 2015 Black Lives Matter anthem. All right.
Speaker 1: Well, legal be.
Speaker 3: All right, all right. All right. Don’t be all right. We gon be all right. We gon be all right. Do you hear me?
Speaker 1: You’re gonna be all right.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: But all these waves of late career hits for Timberland and Pharrell leave open one question What ever happened to Missy Elliott? To answer that, we need to take one last trip back to the aughts.
Speaker 4: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Moulin Rouge. We are. So are my soul sisters. Let me hear your flow, sisters. Hey, sister. Go, sister. So, sister.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Flow. Oh, as early as 2001, Missy was fulfilling her personal goal of producing hits not just for other artists, but primarily for other women. On the number one remake of Lady Marmalade. From the film Moulin Rouge. Credited to Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya and Pink. The only vocalist not credited was its producer and mistress of ceremonies, Missy Elliott. By 2005, Elliott was shifting her focus from her own material toward these collaborations. For Ciara, Missy co-wrote the number two hit one two Step and made a guest rap appearance.
Speaker 4: I take it like jello, make the boys say hello because they know I’m rocking the baby. I know you heard about a lot of great emcees, but they ain’t got nothing on me. Not because of that, but to want to dance with to win unsophisticated followers.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: I told the media after Missy’s 2005 album, The Cookbook. Again, her first album, mostly not produced by Timberland. She stopped recording for herself altogether, but kept writing and producing for others, most especially other black women artists giving them a leg up, as others had done for her early in her career. For Keyshia Cole, Elliott produced and guested on Let It Go, a number seven hit in 2007.
Speaker 4: Titled Show Man, because I get it like that, but it ain’t even gotta be like that. Yo, man, be calling me back to Sam fan. In a matter of fact, he is. So do.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: That. For Jasmine’s songbook, Missy produced and rapped on Need You Bad. By the way, this was nearly a decade and a half before Sullivan would eventually win a Grammy for her album Hotels Need You Bad topped the R&B chart in 2008.
Speaker 3: On the border.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: For Monaco appear to Missy who like her, had come up in the nineties. Elliott produced the R&B chart topping everything to me. Monica’s first number one on that chart in seven years.
Speaker 4: You. Sandy Berger the.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Event I breathe and on the pop side of the dial, as we discussed in our remix episode of Hit Parade in 2011, Missy agreed to do a remix of Katy Perry’s last Friday night that took that song The Last Mile to number one on the hot 100.
Speaker 3: We did see me go to TV. Now pour my drinks. See.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: I guess it was around this time in the summer of 2011 that Elliott revealed that her absence from recording her own new material was largely the result of Grave’s Disease, a thyroid disorder that caused her severe tremors while driving or even just holding a pen to write songs. Which makes it all the more admirable that Elliott had shifted her attention to assisting other artists. Katy Perry was particularly appreciative a good deal of her material with its synth bounces and allusions to vintage hip hop owed more than a little to Missy Elliott.
Speaker 3: Like, No, this never make making. Like a bell, like static.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Such as? Thanks for Elliott’s support. When Katy Perry was invited to perform on the Super Bowl halftime show in 2015. She ceded nearly one third of her time on stage to Missy Elliott, who came out and performed her hits Get Your Freak On, Work It and Lose Control.
Speaker 3: Don’t stop now.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: The halftime performance watched by 118 million viewers, reacquainted the public with Missy Elliott’s catalog and sent her digital sales skyrocketing, taking advantage of this. Later that year, Elliott released a new single WITF. Parentheses. Where are they from? Produced by none other than Pharrell Williams. It reached number 22 on the hot 100. Elliott’s first top 40 hit as a lead artist in over a decade.
Speaker 4: How you doing? How to do what? You fuck by sticking her tongue down, but you know you’re free to go.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Despite the encouragement of Pharrell, since WTS, Missy has still not issued a full length album. The cookbook from 2005 remains her last, and her six studio LPs have a perfect platinum streak. She has continued to make appearances on others tracks such as her guest role on a Janet Jackson single in 2016.
Speaker 1: No.
Speaker 3: I’m a shut this down. Can you get me on? Yummy. I’m now. Hit it with me. To the heat of the house.
Speaker 1: Mistakes and how she won a crown.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: And in 2018, on Ellen DeGeneres talk show, Elliott surprised a superfan named Mary Halsey, who had earned viral fame with her flawless karaoke performance of Missy’s classic work.
Speaker 4: It Never Waits for Ya. This is how to tap, tap dance outside to talk to sex with some say blah, blah, blah. Why did I need a glass of water? Boy, oh, boy is good to know. Yeah. Is it worth.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: It?
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Will Missy Elliott ever record a full length album again since her successful treatment for Grave’s Disease? She seems to enjoy being an elder stateswoman of hip hop. In 2019, MTV finally acknowledged her singular influence by presenting her with their Video Vanguard Award, their highest commemorative honor in the video package announcing Missy’s award, she, Pharrell Williams and Timberland all reminisced about their history together, both as musical visionaries and as natives of Virginia Beach and.
Speaker 4: The Rock can’t see the visual of what the video is going to be. And that’s a record that I just got to throw away. I have to see a visual for that record, for me to feel like this is going to be a hit.
Speaker 1: I understand.
Speaker 5: And I was like, wow, look what is coming out of Virginia Beach. She put our accent on the air waves. That feels like something we’ve never seen ourselves before or heard ourselves before. Coming from be a my sound, it fit into what New York was doing, what West Coast was doing. But Missy, she like now to sometimes being wrong is right.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Notably that same night at the VMAs. The singer, rapper and iconoclast Lizzo was also up for several awards after a breakthrough year. And she, too, explained Missy’s influence on her work.
Speaker 4: For me, being young and weird and chubby and a black girl and wanting to do music, I was like, Wow, anything is possible that night.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Lizzo performed her rising single Truth Hurts, which had the same blend of bravado and sexual agency. Missy Elliott had been instilling into her music for decades, the week after the 2019 VMAs. Truth Hurts rose to number one on the hot 100. Why to. In essence, you could say the whole night was one long tribute to Missy, who received her video Vanguard Prize and took the stage to perform a medley of her material.
Speaker 1: Connected to another amateur video.
Speaker 3: That’s, however, a solo. We’ll.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: These hits once utterly alien sounding many produced by Timbaland and brought back to life in the 20 tens with the help of Pharrell Williams. These have been fully absorbed into the culture, and they now sounded like classics for one night. Time went backwards as Missy put her thang down, flipped it and reversed.
Speaker 3: Go get it because fix.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit Parade. Our show was written, edited and narrated by Chris Molanphy. That’s me. My producer is Kevin Bendis. Alisha Montgomery is the executive producer and Derek John, the supervising narrative producer of Slate Podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate.com Slash Podcasts. You can subscribe to Hit Parade wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to finding it in the Slate Culture Feed, if you’re subscribing on Apple Podcasts, please rate and review us while you’re there. It helps other listeners find the show.
Bringing Sexy, Chris Molanphy: Thanks for listening and I look forward to leading the hit parade back your way. Until then, keep on marching on the one. I’m Chris Molanphy.
Speaker 3: Your. He was sorry to.