November 27, 2015

Remixed For Your Pleasure: Justin Timberlake - "T.K.O."

Justin Timberlake is an artist (yep, I called him an artist, what of it?) whose appearances on the pages of this blog have been fairly infrequent, mostly because I don't really write about R&B or pop albums.  But the man has done a fucking amazing job of reinventing himself over the past decade: he could have, and under different circumstances would have, faded into obscurity after the dissolution of his previous boy band N*SYNC, but instead of doing just that, he doubled down, proving himself to be a talented, charming, and actually funny-on-purpose motherfucker, pretty much excelling at everything he's tried to do.  Except drama: his acting chops aren't entirely there yet, as evidenced by David Fincher's The Social Network, where he was the weakest link (although, to be fair, everyone else in that goddamn movie was terrific, so there was only so much he could do).  The main reason I've kept up with the man's work is his choices in collaborators: when he went solo, he paired up with two of my favorite producers, who were also two of the most popular producers on the fucking planet at the time: Timbaland and The Neptunes.  His relationship with Pharrell Williams may be taking a break, but Timberlake and Timbo are still going strong, since his last two projects, 2013's The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2, were primarily handled by Timbaland and his team.

You knew all of that already, so I don't know why I decided to write all of that down.  Oh well.  Anyway, the subject of today's post, "T.K.O.", was the underperforming second single from 2 of 2, featuring a Timbo beat that is reminiscent of his work on 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds.  Timberlake croons about a relationship with a woman that is turning toxic, with the fighting and the makeup sex that comes along with it, although he questions both her motives and his own throughout.  So, you know, much more mature content than anything a boy band could pull off.  He relies too heavily on the boxing metaphors (see: the motherfucking song title), but the song itself isn't that bad for what it is: at least there's still someone out there that can squeeze the creative juices out of Timbaland, who hasn't really been the same since Missy Elliott moved on to different production.

Appropriately enough, on Black Friday in 2013, Timberlake unleashed the "Black Friday Remix" of "T.K.O.", where he minimizes his role significantly in favor of rappers J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, and Pusha T, who, of course, first made an impact on the mainstream on Timberlake's first solo single "Like I Love You" alongside his brother (No) Malice.  I'm fairly certain this remix also wasn't that popular, but to be fair, it couldn't receive regular radio airplay anyway, since the re-do is explicit as shit.  I give credit to the Timbs for allowing their guests to rant without being censored, but I question just what audience this shit was created for in the first place, since the only way you would have ever heard of this remix was if you actively sought it out.

Not surprisingly, most of the guest stars sidestep the song's original theme, instead using Timbaland's (slightly tweaked but not really) beat to further their own agendas.  Rocky manages to use the word "fuck" approximately eighty-four times in the span of five bars, it seems, while Pusha-Ton advertises what was his then-upcoming debut solo album, My Name Is My Name (although he is also quick to point out his past history with Timberlake).  Of the three, the guy most bloggers were talking the most about was Cole, who chose this opportunity to respond to Kendrick Lamar's long-ass, confrontational verse on Big Sean's still-technically-never-officially-released "Control": his verse was carefully designed to sort-of adhere to to the topic at hand (again, toxic relationships), all the way down to his "breakdown" toward the end of his performance.  All of this sounds like I'm talking shit, but in reality Cole isn't bad: it's just kind of weird that it took a remix of a Justin Timberlake song for someone to actually express their feelings regarding all of the challenges K-Dot laid down on "Control".

GO WITH THE O.G. OR THE REMIX?  I think the hip hop heads here will probably go with the remix, due to the inclusion of actual hip hop, but the original version is also pretty decent.  It isn't classic Timberlake, but it still sounds better than most of the shit on the radio these days.

In case you care, I've also included the official video for the album version of "T.K.O."  I just realized that I've never actually watched it myself, but I really don't want to right now.



  1. you hardly reviewed either song lol but i guess you're prolly hanging like hell so i'll forgive you

  2. I realize that Cole has grown into his lyrical potential quite nicely recently, but the man seriously needs to find himself some timeless production pronto.