Timbaland MasterClass Review

In Summary: Timbaland Teaches Producing and Beatmaking is a truly inspiring 3-hour look into Timbaland and team’s creative process. Timbaland’s passion is infectious. I would recommend Timbaland’s Masterclass course for any aspiring music producer and any die-hard Timbaland fan.

That said, the All Access Pass might be the better deal, giving you access to all of MasterClass’s high quality courses for a year for about twice the cost of the single course.

(FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

Jump To A Section:

  1. My Timbaland History
  2. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
  3. Course Contents
  4. Who Is This Class For?
  5. Timbaland’s Collaborators
  6. My Main Criticism
  7. Timbaland Produced Songs
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Best Beats Playlist

Before we get to my official review, let me at least explain why my opinion on this class matters…

My Timbaland History

Why should you care about this indie white guy producer‘s opinion about Timbaland? Honestly, most people I meet are surprised that I am (and have been) such a fan of Timbaland.

Truth be told, I have been a fan of Timbaland since 1998. I was in fourth grade, and a cute girl shared with me Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” The track was weird (baby noises) but undeniably catchy. And lest us not forget, a cute girl recommended it to me.

His hook into pop music of that time only continued to grow deeper. His collaborations with Missy Elliot were some of the most undeniably danceable, catchy (again, kind of weird) pop of the time. His work with Magoo, Ginuwine, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Madonna, and Nelly Furtado were the fabric of late 90s/early 2000s pop music.

In short, his work was Singular.

Justin Timberlake and Timbaland

Finally, my love for Timbo was solidified with his contributions to Justin Timberlake’s first solo album, Justified. “Cry Me A River” is a modern classic. Honestly, the people that JT chose to collaborate with on that album were already people I respected and adored (Pharrell!). Justin was playing his career how I secretly would have if I had the resources and confidence.

And then there was Justin Timberlake’s second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which was deeply influenced by Timbaland’s production.

Timbaland was now rightfully secured as one of my favorite musicians. His unique style went on to influence my musical work as a freak folk producer.

Timbaland’s MasterClass

My music philosophy is: Creativity is a welcoming thing. As long as you love music, you’re welcome in this world of producing.


Now, I know you didn’t come to this article to hear me fanboy about Timbaland. Let’s get down to it…

Course Contents

Timbaland’s masterclass is roughly 3 hours of video content, broken into 15 courses. Each course comes with a well crafted workbook, complete with a glossary of terms and assignments. The assignments are definitely not a requirement, but seem to be the optimal way to get the most out of the course.

Here is a complete breakdown of the chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Studio Session: Making a Beatbox Beat
  • Chapter 3: Building Beats: Tim’s Process
  • Chapter 4: Making a Beat: Getting Warmed Up
  • Chapter 5: Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
  • Chapter 6: Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression
  • Chapter 7: Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums
  • Chapter 8: Song Origins: “Pony”
  • Chapter 9: Making a Beat: Manipulating Vocal Samples
  • Chapter 10: Making a Beat: Creating a Breakdown
  • Chapter 11: Song Origins: “Gossip Folks”
  • Chapter 12: Making a Beat: Adding a Topline
  • Chapter 13: Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”
  • Chapter 14: Tim’s Influences
  • Chapter 15: How to Persevere

If I’m honest, one of my criticisms of the course is the ordering of the chapters. I feel there could have been more logic as to how the courses were spread out. For instance, “Tim’s Influences” was Chapter 14, whereas it felt it could have been put closer to the beginning to give more context to the entire conversation.

Who Is This Class For?

Early on in the course, Tim makes it clear: If you are hoping to learn how to record with a DAW or learn his mic placement, this course is not for you. This course is not a deep dive into software (although you do get glimpses at Team Timbo’s setup in Ableton Live and Logic). This course is not about EQ’ing and plug-ins.

This course is about creating a feeling, building from the heart. The class aims to give you an insider look into Timbaland’s process. Not the technical and tedious, but the pure joy of music making. Thus, this class is for someone that already has a strong grasp on your recording set-up and basic technical elements of recording.

That said, if you are a true Timbaland fan and not a music producer, you might find great enjoyment watching Timbaland in his element. Timbaland’s enthusiasm is wildly infectious.

There is a moment where the music completely takes him over and he goes wild. I instantly noted, “he is such a lovable weirdo.” As I was noting this, Tim exclaimed, “You see what the feeling made me do? Class, that’s what it should do for you. I found the magic of Harry Potter.

This course is for the person that wants to find the magic of Harry Potter.

Timbaland’s Collaborators

Our workflow is an ongoing party. We just transfer sounds to one another.


In this MasterClass, you get a peak into Team Timbo. Timbaland does not produce in a vacuum. In this series, you see Tim create hand in hand (or laptop in laptop) with co-producers Federico Vindver

As one of his collaborators states, “We are like a band with laptops as our instruments.” Timbaland, in essence, acts as the conductor of the digital orchestra, giving his collaborators space and encouragement to be creative while also giving a distinct direction.

I think there is something to be said of this approach. There is so much ego within music making, and the fact that Tim is so transparent that music is a team effort is an enlightening attitude. I know for myself, I have wanted to do everything, but that has only made me tired and spread thin.

My Main Criticism Of This Course

If I had to find something to nitpick with the Timbaland MasterClass, I simply wish there was follow through from chapter to chapter.

For example, the first chapter follows Timbaland starting a beat from his beatbox method. I wish they had followed this song through completion. That is, let us watch the team turn that beatbox into a fully synthesized beat, with synth elements and adding a topline.

[I had never heard the term topline until this course. Topline: the vocal melody of a song. So there you go. I definitely learned something watching this masterclass]

Further, let us watch them develop the lyrics after finding their melodies. I can see that they left some space for the audience (i.e. class) to interact and shape the beat in their assignments, but I feel that would have been an incredible insight to watch Timbaland take a song from zero to completion.

That said, they somewhat do this later on with another song; however, I feel it would have been incredibly impactful and inspiring to watch them take a song from literally nothing to a fully realized track.

Timbaland Produced Songs

Intermixed throughout the course, Timbaland breaks down some of his best beats and the inspiration that led to their creation.

In these song origins, Timbo reveals the genesis of such classics as Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” Ginuwine’s “Pony,” Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody,” and Missy Elliot’s “Gossip Folks.”

I wish these chapters went a bit deeper, but they were still an incredible peek behind the curtain of Timbaland’s craft. These songs are all testaments to Timbaland’s ability as a collaborator. In all of these segments, he is quick to admit the power that other people bring, be it Jay’s poetry or Aaliyah’s voice or Missy’s personal vision.

Final Thoughts on Timbaland’s MasterClass

Like anything, you only get out of it what you put in. Yes, you could just binge these videos and be done with it. Or you could take the challenge of the assignments and build a song in conjunction with the lessons.

Timbaland Teaches Producing and Beatmaking is an incredibly inspiring look into Timbaland’s creative process. Tim’s passion is infectious and makes you want to hit pause and go straight to your DAW.

I would recommend Timbaland’s Masterclass course for any aspiring music producer and any die-hard Timbaland fan. That said, the All Access Pass might be the better deal, giving you access to all of MasterClass’s high quality courses for a year for about twice the cost of the single course.

Ear Candy: Timbaland’s Best Beats

I will leave you with a YouTube playlist that I created, highlighting some of Timbaland’s best work as producer, as well as some lesser known songs. You have to admit: His music makes you bounce.

Chancha Via Circuito “Kawa Kawa (ft. Kaleema)”

I got lucky when I discovered Chancha Via Circuito.

In February, I passed through Argentina en route to Antarctica. In search of music for my travelogue, I found this article about contemporary Argentinian musicians.

Although there were many great artists on this list, Chancha Via Circuito instantly caught my ear. With the perfect blend of traditional cumbia and electronics, Chancha Via Circuito (Pedro Canale) hits my sweet spot. It feels mystical and transcendental. It feels modern yet timeless.

This footage was shot in Ushuaia, Argentina, at the southern most tip of South America. For this video, I wanted to experiment more with a kaleidoscope-like effect to capture the other worldly elements of the song.

Feel free to check out more of my videos here.

StarVR One: The Future of VR?

StarVR (official website) introduced their new headset, the StarVR One, at this year’s SIGGRAPH Conference. Based on specs alone, this HMD could be the next frontier of virtual reality gear.

StarVR Specs: Nearly 100% of Natural Human Vision FOV

As VR enthusiasts know, field of vision (FOV) is key for a seamless and immersive experience.

According to the company, the StarVR One will cover “nearly 100% of natural human vision,” with 210-degree horizontal and 130-degree vertical FOV.

A comparison of current VR HMDs versus the StarVR One HMD's field of vision.

This is a clear step forward. The HTC Vive, which reportedly has the leading FOV in current gear, possesses a field of vision of 110-degree horizontal and 110-degree vertical. 

StarVR Resolution: 5.4 Million Pixels & 90 FPS

Paired with custom fresnel lenses, the One uses two AMOLED displays designed specifically for VR. Each display measures at 1830×1464 pixels, providing over five million pixels. Further, the display’s refresh rate is 90 frames per second, which is crucial for authentic recreation of reality. 

According to the company, the unit will achieve “exceptional contrast and true clean colors in every VR experience.” This will be achieved through the use of a proprietary full RGB per pixel arrangement, which will enable a professional-grade color spectrum for real-life color.

Tobii Eye-Tracking Technology

The unit possesses eye-tracking technology provided by Tobii. It will automatically measure Interpupillary Distance (IPD) and “instantly provide the best image adjusted for every user.”

StarVR One's Dynamic Foveated Rendering

Integrated eye tracking enables foveated rendering, a dynamic technology which renders high-quality imagery only where the eyes are focused. As a result, the highest quality imagery is seen by the eye focus area while maintaining enough peripheral imagery detail. Further, this takes a large load off of your graphics cards. 

StarVR One’s eye tracking will be a powerful tool for marketers and designers. By tracking eye movement, companies can utilize user intent data for content gaze analysis and heat maps.

StarVR Price

Although the cost of the consumer HMD is still unknown, the company has released the cost for the developer headset. You can apply now to purchase the StarVR One developer headset for $3,200 USD.

Final Thoughts on StarVR One HMD

Weighing in at 450 grams (.99lb), the headset is a strong indicator of where virtual reality technology is heading. If VR is to fully recreate reality, it will require complete immersion of our field of view, rather than looking through a pair of binoculars. 

We won’t know for sure until we try one for ourselves, but it seems the future of VR is bright. 

A Brief History of VR Games

Today, virtual reality gaming is taking off at a good pace with PC, mobile, and PlayStation headsets helping grow the market and provide gamers with deeper, more immersive experiences than any previous generation. But it has been a long time getting here, as Chris Knight explains in this look at the history of VR games.

Continue reading “A Brief History of VR Games”

Blurb: Professional Photo Books

I was first introduced to Blurb in a grad school photography class. For our final assignment, we were to make a photo book of our class’ best work. I was amazed by the simplicity of designing the book and the quality of the final product.

Travel Photo Books

When it came time to make my family a Christmas present, I thought back on that book, and realized it would be perfect for the photos from our family trip to Africa.

To honor the power of that trip, I decided on a hardcover. I went with a nice matte paper.

This book is one that my family will cherish forever. It has the weight and appearance of a real coffee table book, with the added emotion of personal photos.

Trade Books: Perfect for TFP Photoshoots

For my first photo shoot with models, I wanted to honor our time and photographs with a photo book. For this project, I tried the trade book option from Blurb. The price is slightly more affordable than the traditional photo book, but there is no quality spared. The final product has the feel of a high quality magazine.

I sent the books as surprises to the models. It was incredible to witness their reactions to seeing their work in a printed form.

Endless Possibilities

Having made these other books, I now see that Blurb could work well for so many uses.

  • Turn Your Instagram/Facebook Into a Book

  • Cookbooks

  • Zines/DIY Magazines

  • Wedding/Event Photo Books

  • Self-Published Books


I am a lifelong learner (LLL). Knowledge and growth seem to be keys to an enlightened and inspiring life. I can’t tell you how much time I spend watching tutorials and lectures on YouTube. The unspoken goal has always been, ultimately, Mastery.

(FTC Disclosure: I was compensated for this post and this post contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

It’s said that to become a Master, one must spend 10,000 hours with their craft.

(Further Disclosure: Please do buy from those links. Every cent is appreciated. These courses, especially the yearly account, are highly valuable).

Those ten thousand hours look different for everyone. During the Renaissance, it was standard for an aspiring artist to work as an apprentice under a Master. For the Beatles, it was months in Germany, playing for hours on end. These days, it could be completely self-taught, with education taking place in YouTube tutorials, forums, free time, and pure trial-and-error.

Further, with the cost of college on the rise – and the lack of a guaranteed career – alternative forms of education seem to be a wise method of obtaining knowledge. As online education advances, more opportunities for growth will evolve.

This brings me to Masterclass, the online video series featuring impressive teachers sharing their working (evolved) knowledge of their medium

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is an online learning platform, with classes from some of the leading artists of today. The courses are built around high-quality video lectures, interactive assignments, and access to a strong and supportive online community of like minded learners.

Masterclass’ roster of teachers is truly a Who’s Who of modern artistic creation.

The question really becomes: what do you want to learn? The art of Comedy? Who better to teach you than Steve Martin?

Screenwriting? How about Aaron Sorkin? Film scoring? They’ve got Hans Zimmer. Photography? None other than Annie Lebovitz. Filmmaking? Try Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, or even David Lynch.

Even the person that has popularized the 10,000 hour mastery concept, Malcolm Gladwell, teaches writing.

Invest in Martin Scorsese's Masterclass Course

Personally, I am deeply excited for the new Timbaland series. I have grown up as a huge fan of Timbaland. (I know this might come as a shock). His production has always been incredibly unique, and has deeply influenced my own production style. His collaboration with Missy Elliot is groundbreaking. His work with Justin Timberlake has created some of the best dance hits in the past 20 years. …and now, he’s willing to share his knowledge in an accessible format. It’s a steal.

Masterclass offers an a la carte option, where you are able to purchase a single course. Or if you are like me and all of the classes seem worthwhile, you can purchase the All Access Pass. It’s also a great gift idea for the artist in your life.

The question now is: What do you wish to learn about?

What do you want to Master?

‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – David’s Book Club

Elizabeth Gilbert’s letter to David:

“It feels like a precious wound, like a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same, David; settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked around in this place, at the chaos its endured – the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured that maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic; it’s just the world that is and the only real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation… We must always be prepared for endless waves of transformation. Both of us deserve better than staying together because we’re afraid we’ll be destroyed if we don’t.”


2014: The Year of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

In 2014, I set out to publicly read Elizabeth Gilbert’s now classic, ‘Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia.’ Akin to my love of Katy Perry, I have a feeling many people took this as another David-stunt of hipster-ironicism. What people don’t get is that, most often, these aren’t actions of irony, but sincerity.


“And then there was David.” +Gilbert, EPL

Continue reading “‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – David’s Book Club”

The Lighthouse Manifesto

I thought I would share with you a creative manifesto I wrote somewhere in 2010. Now, I know the word manifesto can get some people in a tissy, immediately associating the thought with extremist groups and the Communist Party; however, this was something I wrote to give myself a creative direction. I’m not the only artist to have done such a thing.

In short, please don’t think I have gone crazy. Further, my opinions have changed over the past three years, and I hope to address that in a future post. I am hoping that, maybe, these words will resonate within you, and you too will start to see that, deep within you, you have your own working beliefs about your own creative process.

The Lighthouse Manifesto

The Manual for a New Culture

I do not pretend to have all the answers, for I, like you, am in a constant state of growth and learning. I simply provide you with my view point – one of infinite perspectives and One, too, that is always morphing.

Continue reading “The Lighthouse Manifesto”