Exclusive: Timbaland Takes Mentoring to the Next Level in New MasterClass


MasterClass, the online educational platform that has had such luminaries as Malcolm Gladwell, Gordon Ramsey, deadmau5, and Steph Curry teach the tricks of their trade, is moving into hip-hop production in a big way: recruiting Timbaland to share his secrets.

His new class with the company, which you can see an exclusive trailer for above, will, according to the company, "Teach students the process of music production from inception to final execution, in a way that’s interactive and easy to understand." Over several hours of video lessons, Timbo will share how to build a beat from scratch, the art of layering samples, how to work with vocalists, and tips on mixing and sound design. And, of course, the producer will be using some of his own hits as examples, while creating two new songs from scratch along the way.

"When it comes to music production, the key is believing in your own ideas and finding collaborators that can help those ideas breathe," Timbaland explains. "In my MasterClass, students will walk away with the essentials to bring their own beats to life, giving them the confidence to find collaborators that believe in their vision as much as they do."

You can find out more details here.

I got Timbaland on the phone to get more details on what exactly he's teaching, and what else he's been up to.

How is this MasterClass going to work?
Well, first of all, I invite them to my studio, which is an intimate look into my creative process. I build beats from scratch: starting with something simple, graduating, making the song more complex. It's about me showing you my process, 'cause everybody always asks me how do I do this, how do I do that. I think the best way is to be in the room. So this is the perfect way to be in the room. Everybody can see how it's done and feel some of the magic that goes on in the studio.

Have you taught prior to this?
You know, I haven't, and I felt like I needed to be more vocal. Creative people, we kinda be in our shells. I'm taking a step forward. I want to do something different: I want to give back to musical people, people that are frustrated that don't have the time or the effort to put in production. I have to learn how to communicate what I feel. So this is the best way to start off, by talking to a group of people that I don't see, but I can feel them while I am in the room. It's being creative in a different way for me. I want to learn how to speak on my creativity, because I really speak through my music.

Have you mentored people in a less formal way before?
I've mentored Danja [former co-producer Nate "Danja" Hills], but I haven't really documented. He's been around me for years, and I groomed him, and that's like mentorship. I've been doing it, but not in the sense of talking it. I'm more about showing and putting the actions to it. 

I mentor a lot of producers. I have a team that I worked with prior to the MasterClass that I've been mentoring for a couple years now—just showing them, "You should move that there, you should move this here." I'm always mentoring.

One of the things you say about the class is you're going to teach "capturing inspiration," which seems difficult. What tips do you have for that?
I don't know if you teach somebody how to capture inspiration. You have to watch and get inspired. I believe my energy is going to make a person who's watching me be inspired. 'Cause they're gonna see somebody who still loves it, that's been making hits, and it's not about nothing but the love for the music. You're going to feel that energy from this MasterClass. I saw some of the clips, and I felt the energy. I wanted to make beats myself, and I'm watching me. So I believe the energy in the room will be inspirational.

What else are you up to these days?
The MasterClass, I feel like that's the beginning of me opening up. So the next thing I will probably be doing is my own sound pack, [which is] something I've never done. I never shared my sounds, my drums. But I think it's time for me to share it to the world, because I wanna see how the world interprets it, how they see their rhythms through my drums. I'm getting it together now. I haven't come up with a name, but it's going to be a classic, because I'm giving my music broken down in a pack.

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