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How Empire Changed Timbaland

After Empire creator Lee Daniels hired music producer Timbaland to be the television program’s Executive Music Producer, the Grammy Award winner sent the Academy Award nominee music to be used in the pilot episode.

As he recounted to Out.com, Daniels brought a copy of that first episode to Timbaland to show him how his music was used. Daniels was out of the room during the scene where Jamal and his boyfriend kiss. Said Daniels “I knew he was fascinated by seeing his music in the work, but he said, ‘Those guys kissing, man. Wow.’” When the music producer showed his family the pilot, he made his children leave the room during that kissing scene.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. This was the man who said “Some people listen to a song like ‘SexyBack’ and think, am I queer? Am I funny? If you are that way, you’re just that way. But if you’re a masculine man, embrace it. Have a glass of wine, put the record on and invite your girl over to get sexy.”

He has a point. When I listen to “SexyBack,” I ask “Am I queer?” That’s because Justin Timberlake doesn’t do anything for me. If I were a masculine man who drank, I’d have a girl over and get sexy for the song’s four minutes and three seconds. But I’m funny.

Per Daniels, who is openly-gay, Timbaland is singing a new tune. “[Working on this show has] changed his opinion on how he feels about gays. He said it. And I remember hanging up the phone and being very emotional after talking to him, and after him telling me that. And how he really had this epiphany. It was beautiful, and it deepened our friendship.”

That must have been some conversation. “Hi, Lee? It’s Timbaland. I’ve worked with many gay people in my twenty-five years producing music, and every one of them disgusted me with their talent and work ethic. But after seeing a fictional gay character recite scripted lines and give his, uh, male friend a quick kiss, I’ve had a change of heart. I can handle a gay person for a few scenes one hour a week, provided my kids aren’t in the room. Let’s have dinner soon. Feel free to not bring your boyfriend. Love ya (in a platonic way)!”

Today the man born Timothy Mosley turns 43 years old. There’s still time for him to continue evolving. Here are twenty tracks he produced or co-produced. WARNING: This playlist includes “SexyBack.” Be sure you’re masculine enough to listen! (Before anyone asks, his stellar work with Aaliyah is not available on Spotify.)

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