Suit and Tie.
It's been seven long years since Justin Timberlake released one of the greatest R&B albums of all time. Seven years. Do you realize how long that is? There have been artists who have come and gone, people who have had entire careers in that span of time, and all the while Justin Timberlake has been starring in cheesy rom-coms and smashing Jessica Biel relentlessly while we all wait for another revolutionary album from him and the tailor to his sound, Timbaland.
FutureSex/Lovesounds wasn't just another R&B album. It was a coming of age album, a coming out party if you will, for one of the most talented artists the world has ever known. JT's first solo album, Justified, wasn't a bad album by any means. It was a good album, and a solid first effort for a then newly departed Timberlake who was looking to forge his own path separate from the bubblegum poppiness of N'Sync. With The Neptunes, who at the time couldn't miss as far as production goes, handling the bulk of the production of the album and Justin looking to crack the ice of his solo career, Justified served as a solid foundation for Timberlake to build his career upon. By his second album, Justin ditched the Neptunes and partnered with legendary producer Timbaland and quickly found what was missing from his music; He found his sound. The same way that all great basketball players have their go-to move, all great artists have their go-to producer. For some artists it's their song writer (Beyonce and The-Dream come to mind), for others it's their engineer (i.e. Drake and Noah "40" Shebib), for Justin it's his producer. Comparing Justified and FSLS is similar to comparing an untailored suit to one that's been tailored. After one listen of FSLS you could see the way that Justified hung off JT in some areas and needed to be tightened up in others. The way that Timbaland and Timberlake work together to make such beautiful, organic, at times sonically flawless music rivals the chemistry that Timbaland had in the 90's with the late Aaliyah. FSLS is Justin's perfect game, his hole in one, his masterpiece; So I understand why he was reluctant to follow it with anything less than the same gold-standard material.
But here we are on a Monday, (January 14th to be exact) and seemingly out of nowhere, Mr. Timberlake has decided to bless us with a new song titled "Suit and Tie". Happy listening.
I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous about this song when I saw it. Jay-Z doesn't have the best track record when being featured alongside male R&B singers (see "Meiple" by Robin Thicke and "Best Thing" by Usher), and with the release of Destiny's Child's new single "Nuclear" on Saturday, it became apparent that even artists that have been guaranteed hit-makers for their entire careers are capable of a strike every now and then. However, Suit and Tie shows that Justin still has it.
From the lackadaisical sizzurp drenched opening, the beat transitions into a full-fledged sprint while JT's soulful falsetto dances playfully along the red carpet that Timbaland so masterfully roles out. Not too far behind, emerges Jay-Z sounding rejuvenated and at home causally talking that shit that only people in the 1% would understand. Spitting tough lines like "you just got good genes so a nigga tryna cuff you". Just to give you an idea of how bossed up Jay's verse is, I'm gonna say this: It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if I was told that Hov recorded his verse in a Maybach that was being transported inside a leer jet that was en route to land aboard his private yacht. Hardbody Hov came through in a big way on this track.
Overall, I'm happy with the final product. I'm happy to see one of the true trailblazers in music creating again. I'm excited to see how this album will shift the landscape of R&B. And most of all, I'm curious to see what the past seven years have done for Justin Timberlake's evolution as an artist.
Ladies and Gents rejoice! The most soulful whiteboy this side of Robin Thicke is back.