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Playlist: Timbaland's 14 Best Deep Cuts

Timbo has crafted chart-toppers with everyone from Justin Timberlake and Rihanna along with classics by Missy Elliott and Jay Z. But what about his lesser-known work?

1 / 14

Missy Elliott ft. Aaliyah “Best Friends” (1997)

Missy Elliott had a slew of successful singles off her 1997 debut album Supa Dupa Fly, but fans know one of the album's gems is the Aaliyah-featuring “Best Friends.” While Timbaland produced most of the Missy album, the production on “Best Friends” actually sounds more like the work Timbaland did for Aaliyah around the same time, nestled snugly between the Missy bops. –Mark Sundstrom

2 / 14

​Jay Z ft. Foxy Brown “Paper Chase” (1998)

In the mid to late ‘90s, Jay Z and Foxy Brown were hip-hop’s self-proclaimed Bonnie and Clyde. Most of the dynamic duo’s collabs were notable singles, including the first major hit for both, 1996’s “Ain’t No N---a.” But The Timbaland-produced “Paper Chase,” off Jay’s ’98 breakout full-length Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, was never released as a single, and to this day feels almost like a buried treasure for Foxy fans (and especially hip-hop fans fond of Jay and Foxy’s undeniable chemistry on wax). The song is also one of the first times Jay and Timb worked together--the beginning of countless hits and fan-favorite tracks for the duo. –Mark Sundstrom

3 / 14

​Missy Elliott ft. Jay Z “Back in the Day” (2002)

Since they both hit the scene in the mid ‘90s, Missy Elliott and Timbaland have gone together... like peanut butter and jelly... like going to the movies and eating popcorn... like chips and dip (ok, you get it). So it was no surprise Timbaland’s Midas touch was all over Missy’s seminal 2002 album Under Construction. “Back In The Day” may have been an album cut, but the sound and the vibe demonstrated the entire album’s theme perfectly AND includes two laid-back, yet great, Jay Z verses. Add an infectious, sing-songy hook sung by Missy, and you get a legit summer banger. –Mark Sundstrom

4 / 14

​Alicia Keys “Heartburn” (2003)

If it wasn’t for Alicia Keys shouting “TIMBO!” at the start of this scorching, percussion-heavy jam off her incredible 2003 album The Diary of Alicia Keys, most listeners may not ever know it was produced by Timbaland. While Timbaland’s never been one to limit his sound or get stuck in a box, I think it’s safe to say we often expect Timb productions to be more synth, keyboard and sample-based. Then you hear “Heartburn”--built by layers of driving live percussion, brass horns, and a funky bass line--and you can’t help but bop. The song is modern and yet feels like a throwback of sorts, and is still one of my favorite Alicia Keys album cuts. –Mark Sundstrom

5 / 14

Tank ft. Timbaland “I Love Them Girls (Part 2)” (2005)

Tank’s “I Love Them Girls (Part 2),” also known as the “Timbaland remix” was quietly released alongside the slow-jammy “Part 1” as a single release in 2005, but it wasn’t until Summer 2006 that the track made its way around music blogs and had R&B fans bopping down the street like they were getting ready for their non-existent shift later that night at the strip club. Or was that just me? Either way, Timbo’s club-ready take on the song transformed it into a whole new beast, while still allowing Tank’s soulful, sexy vocals to soar over the heavy, hypnotic, booming production. The Timbaland remix version was even added as an album cut to Tank’s great 2007 album Sex, Love & Pain–Mark Sundstrom

6 / 14

Timbaland ft. Money, "Fantasy" (2007)

Timbo has an eye for fresh, female talent (see Aaliyah, Keri Hilson, Tink) and on a standout, experimental Shock Value he introduced us to Money. With a voice that sounded like a mix of a baby alien and Keyshia Cole, the two dove straight into the future with this woozy, electro-pop cut. It's a shame we never heard much from Money after that; not every artist can own a beat like this. –Jeff Benjamin

7 / 14

Rihanna, “Sell Me Candy” (2007)

Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad album is jam-packed with killer tracks, but one of the main highlights that didn’t get to be a single is hands down “Sell Me Candy.” Timbaland (along with The-Dream) used his masterful production charm to create a track that is laced with the best of Rihanna: sassy vocals and cooing harmonies laid over jangling electronic notes with an underlay of a catchy hip-hop beat. What more could you ask for? –Bianca Gracie

8 / 14

Timbaland, Amar & Jim Beanz, "Bombay" (2007)

With "Big Pimpin'" as the shining example, Timbaland's discography is peppered with homages to Indian music. One of the must-hear examples of this is another Shock Value cut "Bombay" which combined British-Indian singer Amar, R&B singer/producer Jim Beanz and Tim's classic flow and hip-hop sound on one track. –Jeff Benjamin

9 / 14

Madonna, “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” (2008)

Madge’s Hard Candy album may have received a lot of flack from fans due to her shift in urban-pop. But aside from the party-ready uptempos, there's a hidden gem: “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You.” Timbaland first compared the song to a modern “Frozen,” which couldn’t be more accurate as Madonna’s distinct vocals float over a haunting piano-based melody. You can skip some tracks off Hard Candy, but please don’t pass this one up! –Bianca Gracie

10 / 14

Brandy, "Drum Life" (2008)

Brandy's much-underrated Human from 2008 was plagued with multiple song leaks before its release, like many albums of the time. One of Human's standouts was "Drum Life" that saw Bran embracing a '90s house sound and tribal beats wayyyyy before it was trendy to do so. If you dig "Drum Life," be sure to check out the rest of the Human deep cuts floating around YouTube. –Jeff Benjamin

11 / 14

Pussycat Dolls, "Magic" (2008)

Timbaland's work with The Pussycat Dolls makes a good case that the super-producer should eventually create his own girl group a la Diddy. "Magic" see PCD's intricately layered the ladies' vocals, sounding angelic yet fierce on this fan favorite. –Jeff Benjamin

12 / 14

Samantha Mumba, "Personalities" (2008)

Remember Samantha Mumba? If you don't, you've depriving yourself of some prime bubblegum pop, but in case the Irish pop star's hits "Gotta Tell You" and "Baby Come on Over" weren't permanently on your playlist, Mumba was keen on making a comeback in 2008 with Tim's help. The spastic "Personalities" was confirmed to lead off the singer's sophomore album, was previewed on her MySpace (remember MySpace?) and she even performed it live a few times, but it was never officially released until it leaked years later--much to the delight of hardcore pop fans. The song certainly would have been a breath of fresh air in 2008 when pop music was still in its awkward phase of loving Flo Rida and Akon a little too much. –Jeff Benjamin

13 / 14

​Ashlee Simpson, "Murder" (2008)

Prior to 2008, Ashlee was mainly known for being Jessica Simpson’s younger sister who sung cheesy but wildly catch pop rock tunes. But with Bittersweet World, her third studio album, the singer decided to go a more edgier route. And who better to call for the job than Timbaland! The producer created a handful of tracks for the LP, but “Murder” is the surefire standout. It is hypnotizing, a bit menacing, totally badass and one of Timbaland’s most unexpected collaborations to date. –Bianca Gracie

14 / 14

Keri Hilson, “Beautiful Mistake” (2010)

Miss Keri Baby and Timbo have collaborated on bangers before, but “Beautiful Mistake” displayed a softer side of the producer. The underrated and fluttery R&B song will make you want to run back into the arms of that crappy ex-boyfriend. It’s been almost six years since we’ve had a Keri Hilson album, but songs like these are almost good enough to hold us over…almost! –Bianca Gracie

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