Timbaland (or to give him his full name, Timothy Zachary Mosley) has achieved massive success over his 29-year career, not to mention a net worth that’s estimated to be a staggering $85 million. How he’s managed to pull in such a huge fortune is down to sheer talent, an incredible work ethic, and just the tiniest sprinkling of fairy dust.
The Early Years
Timbaland was born in Norfolk, Virginia on March 10, 1972. While still a student at Salem High School of Virginia Beach, he began dabbling with music under the stage name DJ Tim (or occasionally, DJ Timmy Tim). He also formed what would turn out to be a long-term collaboration with fellow student and rapper, Melvin (Magoo) Barcliff. At around the same time, his neighbor, a certain Missy Elliott, heard some of his work and the two began working together. When Missy Elliott’s group, Sista, was offered the chance to record with Swing Mob record label in New York, Elliott took Timbaland and Barcliff along for the ride. Within just a few months of their arrival in the Big Apple, Timbaland and Barcliff were in hot demand as producers, laying down tracks with numerous artists, including Jodeci and, of course, Elliott herself. His mainstream breakthrough came with Aaliyah’s second album, One in a Million, and Ginuwine’s debut album, Ginuwine…the Bachelor. Timbaland’s innovative style of applying a hip-hop sound to R&B soon caught the attention of other musicians, and in no time at all, he was producing for such high-profile artists as Jay-Z, Nas, and The LOX. In the early 2000s, Timbaland had a string of hits with the likes of Ludacris’ “Roll Out (My Business)” Jay-Z’s “Hola’ Hovito”, Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up”, and Beck’s cover of David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs”. He also enjoyed massive success with his continued collaborations with Missy Elliot and Aaliyah.
In addition to his achievements as a producer, Timbaland has enjoyed phenomenal success as a performer. In 1997, he and his partner Magoo released their first offering, Welcome to Our World. In 2001, they released their long-awaited 2nd album, Indecent Proposal. The album proved a commercial disappointment, but Timbaland reversed his fortunes with the 2007 collaboration album, Timbaland Presents Shock Value. The album, which featured appearances from such popular artists as 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Elton John, Fallout Boy, Nelly Furtado, and Missy Elliot proved a massive success, re-establishing Timbaland as a force to be reckoned with. Shock Value II proved similarly successful, spawning such chart favorites as Morning After Dark featuring SoShy and Nelly Furtado, which peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Commercial Breakthrough
In the early 2000s, Timbaland started moving away from his traditional hip-hop sound into a more commercial soundscape. In 2006, he founded a new record label, Mosley Music Group, bringing on board the likes of Nelly Furtado, Keri Hilson and D.O.E. During this period, he also started producing tracks for mainstream artists such as Lil’ Kim, Bubba Sparxx, Jennifer Lopez, and Brandi. Perhaps most significantly, he began collaborating with former N’Sync lead singer, Justin Timberlake, working on several songs for his debut solo album, Justified, including the massively successful Cry Me A River. The two would join forces again on Timberlake’s equally successful sophomore album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. This time around, Timbaland would contribute his vocal talents as well as his production skills, appearing on “SexyBack”, “Sexy Ladies”, “Chop Me Up”, and “What Goes Around… Comes Around”. He subsequently featured on singles for several other commercially successful acts, including The Pussycat Dolls’s “Wait a Minute”, Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous”, and “Ice Box” by Omarion.
After his breakthrough into the mainstream, Timbaland continued to capitalize on his commercial success throughout the first decade of the 2000s. In 2008, he worked alongside Madonna on her album, Hard Candy, Ashlee Simpson on Bittersweet World, Keri Hilson on In A Perfect World, Flo Rida’ on Mail On Sunday and Letoya Luckett on Lady Love. Other collaborations that year included Lindsay Lohan’s Spirit in the Dark, Chris Cornell’s Scream, JoJo’s All I Want Is Everything, Nicole Scherzinger’s Her Name is Nicole, Missy Elliott’s Block Party, Matt Pokora’s MP3, Keithian’s Dirrty Pop, The Pussycat Dolls’s Doll Domination, Busta Rhymes’s B.O.M.B, Lisa Maffia’s Miss Boss, Teairra Mari’s Pressed For Time, New Kids on the Block’s The Block, and Keshia Chanté’s Night & Day.
The last ten years have seen Timbaland build on his past successes with such projects as David Guetta’s LP, Nothing But The Beat, teen sensation Demi Lovato’s Unbroken album, Justin Timberlake’s LP, The 20/20 Experience, Beyoncé’s single “Grown Woman” and her 2013 tour, The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, and the soundtrack to the television series, Empire. April 2011 saw Timbaland join forces with old friend Mike Evans to create 75 new urban pop tracks for Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s Extreme Music, while in 2013, he and T.I. collaborated with the Indonesian artist, AGNEZ MO, on the track Coke Bottle, the success of which led to it becoming an overnight social media sensation. In 2016, Timbaland teamed up once again with longtime collaborator Missy Elliott to produce Tweet’s track, Somebody Else Will. That same year, he partnered up with Los Angeles startup, SubPac, to create a new form of digital wearable device that aims to revolutionize how music is heard by allowing listeners to feel the low frequencies they wouldn’t otherwise hear. “SubPac is for anyone who wants a deeper connection with feeling,” Timbaland said of the collaboration, before adding that SubPac will change the way albums are made in the future.
If you’re still in any doubt as to how Timbaland managed to secure a net worth of $85 million, then let’s revisit the basic facts: since he began his career all the way back in 1990, Timbaland has managed to rack up 3 studio albums as a solo artist, 2 mixtapes, 16 singles as a lead artist, 23 singles as a featured artist, 5 promotional singles, guest appearances on 22 singles, writing credits on over 50 charted singles, and countless collaborations with some of the biggest and most successful artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. With a list of credits that extensive, the only wonder is that he’s not yet hit the $100 mill mark.