If Timbaland was a lesser producer, Under Construction Part II would be a decent offering. But the hyper-creative, laid-back super producer out of Virginia has made his name by lending an element of surprise to what used to be a basic formula for hip-hop production. Instead of sampling, he prefers heavy bass and disparate elements like baby coos and the sound of his own voice on a track to make it memorable. Unlike Kanye West, Timbaland (nee Tim Mosley) is not as hot behind a mic as he is behind the boards, but his homegirl Missy Elliott is bodacious enough to make up for that on this album and his other works -- in fact, a lot of the musicians Timbaland has worked with complement his behind-the-scenes style very well.
Although he confessed, in a recent New York Times magazine piece to believing he's only made a handful of classics during his entire career (most of them made while the late great Aaliyah was still alive), there's no denying that Timbaland has changed music with his style. But this newest album doesn't exactly show off the skills that made him addictive when he started banging out hits for rap heavyweights like Jay-Z and Nas or good R&B additions Ginuwine and Tweet.
All Under Construction Part II really does is make you wish he included some of these songs at the end of Missy's album of the same title (this is supposedly a continuation of Under Construction). He gets props for trying out his lyricism, even if it doesn't match the fluidity of his music. But the presence of mush-mouth aspirant Magoo, an MC whose smug voice makes him the least interesting man on wax since Pras from the Fugees, undercuts the potential of a lot of these songs.
Luckily, he's a beast when it comes to the beats, as he notes on "That Sh** Ain't Gonna Work", but the chubby-faced enigmatic producer comes off sounding a lot like he's the geeky class clown vs. the hot popular kid on the playground. (Along the same lines, it's not hard to imagine that he keeps Magoo around the studio to make himself feel sexier on a track.)
"Shenanigans", featuring Bubba Sparxxx, and "Don't Make Me Take It There", featuring Frank Lee White, are decent tracks; the latter is a pseudo rant from Timbaland asking that he stop being compared to others and a masturbatory verse offered by White giving Timbaland the praise he deserves for changing music forever. Other standouts on the album follow a predictable formula. "Naughty Eye" and "Indian Flute" prove he knows how to navigate the diwali riddims and reggae beats equally well. "N 2 Da Music", featuring Brandy, is a great club track, as is "Naughty Eye II", featuring Beenie Man. But musically, one of the best offerings from Timbaland here is "Insane", the only song that seems to combine depth of lyrics and melodic complexity. Candice "Gy" Nelson sounds a lot like Aaliyah here, so she adds a haunting quality to Timbaland's description of his personal troubles.
The music on Under Construction Part II almost makes up for a lot of the vapid lyrical content, relegating this second pairing of Timbaland and Magoo to ear candy status: it all sounds delicious and might even make a good snack, but it's not satisfying to anyone looking to fill an empty stomach.