[CD REVIEW]JT_The 20/20 Experience…
By Thapelo Mosioua
Before I wrote this review I read a couple of other reviews on the internet and mind you I hadn’t even listened to the album yet! I’ve personally never been a Justin Timberlake fan and had never taken his music seriously.
I was surprised by one particular review from the NEW YORK TIMES that said “He could have made a cabaret standards album, an acoustic singer-songwriter folk record, a ghastly dance-music immersion, a pseudo-Drake sing-rap hybrid. Any of those would have been more risky and more distinctive than what ended up on ‘The 20/20 Experience” and this got me thinking whether a hip hop fan like me would like this album or not so I just pressed play…
As soon as the opening track “Pusher Love Girl” comes in you are quickly reminded why JT was considered to be at the forefront of Pop music in the early 2000’s! He performed a snippet of this song at the Grammys and I was hooked onto the song immediately, ironically in the song he personifies the love he has for a particular woman as a drug.
The track list boasts 10 songs & the production of the entire album is handled by Timbaland thus his signature style of production is very evident throughout most of it. Now you might think this is modest for a comeback album but 8 of the 10 songs exceed the 7 minute mark, 3 of them are 8 minutes long, and the beat on each song is broken up into 2 sections so you literally feel like you are listening to a different song when the beat changes and this was a brilliant concept on Timbaland’s part.
The listener is treated to an eclectic mixture of sounds from the 70’s jazz feel of “That Girl” to the up-tempo beats on “Let The Groove Get In” to songs like “Don’t Hold The Wall” & “Tunnel Vision” ,which are an ode to the JT of old & could easily have been found on his 2006 hit album “FutureSex/LoveSounds”. I could imagine a spikey-haired Justin Timberlake in his early 20s fresh from N*SYNC performing the second single off the album “Mirrors”, which he apparently wrote for his wife Jessica Biel, but it sounds too much like a boy-band song for me.
He does redeem himself and serenades on classic RnB ballads like “Strawberry Bubble-gum” and “Spaceship Coupe” then ends off the album with a deep & haunting song fittingly called “Blue Ocean Floor”! apart from Jay Z on “Suit & Tie” there are no other features on the album.
Production on the album, both vocally & instrumentally, is handled solely by himself & long-time collaborators Timbaland & J-Roc so this makes the album very safe hence it won’t break any boundaries & it certainly won’t be the greatest comeback of all time but it is definitely worth a listen & the one thing JT did well was to stay relevant in the game almost 7 years later!
When asked about the album title JT said that during the recording process he asked one of his best friends how the songs sound & the friend responded by saying “This is music you can see” & that stuck with JT hence “The 20/20 Experience” which is further elaborated by the cover.