There will never be a second in my life I don't mourn Aaliyah. I thought about this the other day in the neighborhood supermercado when I was considering purchasing a messy silk screen. I also considered buying the Tupac version, but don't even set me off on that; I just ended up getting some milk.
If anything good has come out of Aaliyah's death, it is that Timabaland now has some time to bestow his talent on other artists' albums, and Nelly Furtado seems to be the first significant beneficiary.
Nelly has come so far. Queen of earthy, catchy, pop/folk with ethnic flavor, I originally saw her open for Everclear and during her set, she broke her microphone humping the floor in some sort of dance move. Aside from suspicious dancing ability, there is a lot to admire about Nelly's music. It is extremely well written, and she writes it all. The lyrics are interesting, soulful, philosophical, touching, and altogether insightful. Incase philosophy isn't what you look for in your music, she also, even without Timbaland, has busted out some pretty tasty raps and beats. Before "Promiscuous," which is run of the mill, her videos have been really aesthetically fantastic. She refuses to be put in some girl-singer box, but also doesn't actively fight it the way Pink does. Unlike Pink, Nelly avoids being easy to classify because she just isn't.
'Loose' is Nelly's sex album. Sex hasn't been a huge focus of previous albums, but here she takes advantage of her sexuality from the amazing single "Promiscuous" to her sound-alike of TLC's "Red Light Special," 'Showtime', which upgrades TLC with hotter lyrics, if you can believe that. Further, with beats like this, 'Loose' would make for good background music during any rhythmic activity.
Enter Timbaland, who produced 90% of the songs. His beats are so rich in quality; not this embarrassing 'hyphy' crap. He is musically interesting, and employs a huge variety of eastern, jazz, and latin sounds to complement Nelly's vocal ability and range. He is able to balance her at times nasal sound with creative use of tailored industrial noise, disco echo, unexpected musical extravagance (a Miami middle school chorus appears in one song) and unique arrangements. This album is unpredictable, even after a bunch of plays. And importantly to the unthinking listener, every track, exempting the one ballad ("In God's Hands") are no-brainer qualifiers for a wise DJ's playlist. Thanks to Timbaland, this album deserves a review in a hip-hop magazine. And, due to funny little outtakes between songs, listeners get flashes of the studio interactions between Timbaland and Nelly.
Timbaland: have my children. Nelly: sing their lullabies. This album is worth your bills and if you don't get it, you won't have anything to talk about this summer.