I was under the impression that after an underwhelming release that was “The 20/20 Experience,” Justin Timberlake would go back to the drawing board and work on another release some years from now that would position himself above the pop world. Maybe we’d see a couple more flicks from him and (hopefully) a couple more appearances of him on Saturday Night Live. Needless to say, when I first heard “20/20” I was massively disappointed. After releasing “FutureSexLoveSounds” I only expected to hear more of what the future of pop music should develop into, instead he released an album in which he took on a more blues-type of sound. He was trying to bring a classic approach to adult themed music, but in my view came out boring and a little self-indulgent. Being a fan of Justin Timberlake, I tried to act as if that “20/20” album never happened. On a side note, the one song I liked off the album was “Mirrors” but due to ways of commercial America and popular radio, I think I’ll flip out if I hear that song one more time. So when I heard he was releasing a second part to “The 20/20 Experience” my skepticism was well placed.
So I held my breath and pressed play on my iPod.
Thank you Justin for not disappointing.
Justin Timberlake reclaims his spot as the current king of pop with “20/20 – 2 of 2. It’s as if he told every other artist on the pop charts : “Play time is over.” But when complimenting the album, one can’t forget the production of Timberland. Timberlake and Timberland combine once again in perfect harmony, literally and figuratively. Timberland has always had special connections to his artist (i.e. Missy and Aaliyah) but there’s something about his connection with Timberlake in which they present an audio complexity that exemplifies the pure genius of their collective insanity. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher if what you’re hearing is Timberland making sound effects with his mouth or something generated by a beat machine.
The magic of this album comes in the harmonies which Timberlake nails effortlessly. Nothing seems forced audibly – even the little quirky moments on the album seem to come off as more intriguing than intrusive. He flexes his confidence and bravado on tracks like “Gimmie What I Don’t Know (I Want)” where he’s luring a young lady by daring her to show him something he’s not used to, and on “TKO” which he uses the metaphors of a violent sport such as boxing and equates it to a girl who’s switched up game on him. “Murder” was a track that was going to stand out to me as soon as I saw the track listing. Why? Anytime a track says “featuring Jay-Z” it garners my attention immediately. The track itself is a sub-woofers dream and Jay Z makes his presence known without even spitting a full 16 bars. That’s power.
Timberlake knows as much as we love him for his hyped personality and energy, his claim to fame is keeping the ladies loving him. He does this by showing his vulnerability on tracks like “You Got It On” which could’ve ended up on part one of the “20/20 Experience” but it fits here perfectly to give the album a good balance. On “Not a Bad Thing” Justin runs game on the female listeners with lines like : “Now how about I’d be the last voice you hear at night? / And every other night for the rest of the nights that there are / Every morning I just wanna see you staring back at me / ‘Cause I know that’s a good place to start.”
Justin and Timberland even tackle a country vibe with “Drink You Away” which is a smart move by both. Why not try to find your spot on the country charts as well? The country southern inspired guitar strums and organ stabs are accompanied by a hard snare and is one of the few tracks which the outro of the song stays consistent with the overall vibe. And for those who are doubting Timberland’s skills producing a country-inspired-beat, check his work on Bubba Sparxxx’s , much slept on album, “Deliverance.”
The only hiccups on this album are “True Blood” which kind of just comes off corny more than entertaining and Cabaret which has a forced feature attempt by Drake which added nothing to the song itself. But even with these “hiccups” I’m probably just nit-picking.
Aside from that, there is really nothing to “not-like” about this album as a whole. “Only When I Walk Away” has a hard blues feel to it with a distorted microphone effect on Justin’s yelling verses. What you have to credit Timberlake and Timberland the most on is how they stray away from the norm so much to make things sound like them. Instead of ending songs like most do, just repeating a chorus and echoing out some of the words until the beat ends – they make the end of most songs sound like some elaborate outro which will leave the audience clamoring for more. There is something for everyone on this album, even an acoustic song “Pair of Wings” waits for those patient enough to wait for the bonus track at the end of this album.
Justin Timberlake (and Timberland) come out with this album as other dominant forces in pop music are creeping around or are in full promotion swing with their albums such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Britney Spears. Should be interesting to see how they fare considering TImberlake has once again raised the bar and laid down the ground work of what most should aspire to sound like.
Rating :8.5 out of 10