In his solo debut album, Justified, Justin Timberlake says "Bye, Bye, Bye" to "Nsync's boy-band sound and proves he can make hits all on his own. Justified confirms that Timberlake is not the typical teen heartthrob with good looks and manufactured dance moves, but rather is capable of creating music that defines his own artistic sound. His album demonstrates his progression as a talented vocalist and establishes his credibility as a serious solo artist.
Justified, released on Nov. 5, offers a very urban and R&B vibe that abandons the pop and dance tunes to which most people are accustomed to hearing Timberlake's voice, so don't expect to hear many songs from this album in the dance clubs. In fact, the first single released, "Like I Love You," which Timberlake performed at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, is the only track that is closest to carrying a pop, dance feel. This can be attributed to the fact that some of hip-hop's top producers helped out on the album. The Neptunes, who produced and co-wrote seven of the 13 tracks, contributed to provide great beats with dance numbers like "Se-orita," a fun song that shows Timberlake's amazing skill in singing falsettos, "Like I Love You," featuring the rap group Clipse and "Rock Your Body." The other Neptune-produced tracks, such as "Let's Take A Ride" and "Take It From Here," offer a more relaxed and mellow feel. Timberland, another top hip-hop producer on Justified, who has created hits for artists like Aaliyah and Missy Elliot, produced four of the album's tracks, including the dance track "(Oh No) What You Got" and "Right For Me," which has a very Southern and country sound.
The album's up-beat tracks are balanced by slow ballads, such as "Still On My Brain" and "Never Again," which is co-written and produced by R&B singer Brian McKnight. Probably the best song on the album is the ballad "Cry Me A River," which will be the second single released from Justified. The track was produced by Timberland and is rumored to be written about Timberlake's relationship with ex-girlfriend Britney Spears. This ballad is not a sappy confession of love, but rather expresses anger with lyrics like "The bridges were burned/ Now it's your turn to cry/ So cry me a river."
The best feature of Justified is Timberlake's vocals. Timberlake, who composed the vocal arrangements on every song, demonstrates his talent with impressive vocals that display his ability to really hit the high notes and woo listeners with his soulful and penetrating voice. It is evident from each song, all of which Timberlake co-wrote, that the lyrics are heartfelt and meaningful. His vocals seem reminiscent of Michael Jackson's voice in his first solo effort, 1978's Off the Wall. Timberlake's vocals are also similar to some of today's R&B artists, such as Usher.
Justified also shows Timberlake's growth into manhood. All the songs illustrate his comfort with his identity and image. This album proves that Timberlake is strong enough to take risks in not making his debut album with the pop and "Nsync sound that his fans are used to. Furthermore, the lyrics are more mature, often hinting at a new manly, sexual persona rather than his boyish image from "NSync. In the Timberland-produced song "(And She Said) Take Me Now," which features vocals from Janet Jackson, Timberlake sings "I feel good to you/ You try to hide it/ But I can tell by the way you push up close to me."
With Justified, Timberlake proves that he has a promising career as a solo artist and has an incredible amount of talent independent of "NSync. This album is definitely worth buying.