And who would have thought that it would all be accidental?
Last month, Timbaland's newest protege, Tink, had the chance of a music lifetime when she not only got the greenlight to sample a classic Aaliyah track, but she also received the blessings and production of Timbaland himself. Big business!
After a little hesitation on her hand (after all, the O.G. Baby Girl's shoes are not easy to fill), the Chicago native released "Million,"- a flip on the 1996 classic "One in a Million," and has since been on everyone's radar, despite having dropped a mixtape and a few bangers prior to that.
Tink's remake impressed fans not only because of the co-sign many before her have failed to receive from the late-singer's protective producer, but because homegirl straight up slayed a classic R&B tracked- in rap form.
Take a listen!
Now, in an exclusive chat, the 45-year-old producer walks us through how the track came together, as well as what is next for Tink and his thoughts on her being the modern day Lauryn Hill.
On The Emotional Process of How the Track Came About
Necole: The 'One in a Million' Remix really grabbed me because I know you all are very protective of [Aaliyah's] music and every time someone uses Aaliyah's voice, it's this really big thing. So I was like, 'Oh, this could be really bad or really good.' And it turned out to be really good.
Timbaland: On that particular song, it wasn't a remix. I actually made the track [first and] 'Million' was already done; Tink already wrote it. The only part she didn't have was the hook all the way. So what happened was, I go back home and the next day I go to the studio and I told my engineer Chris, "Pull up [Aaliyah's] 'One in a Million.'"
I didn't even hear that verse that [Tink] wrote yet. I just had that one particular beat that is in the beginning of it. So at the beginning of that beat... we pulled up the original [Aaliyah] track and the tempo matched [Tink's version] and it was perfectly done. It was in the same key and everything. I didn't even try to put it in the key and I said 'Oh my goodness.' And I started crying as I walked out. I just started crying like, "I know this ain't happened-" Because you ain't even gotta speed the stuff up, turn it around, ain't gotta do all this.
[Tink's 'Million'] made me miss my sister (Aaliyah). I put them songs together and... when Tink came in.... we were both like 'Oh my goodness.'
On 'Million' being "ordained" and touched by God
Timbaland: I knew that song was touched by God. It was meant to be. It wasn't something we tried. Everything was played by fate. Everything on that song. That's why that song means so much to me. Because I seen people be like 'Oh, an Aaliyah remix' no, it is not a remix. It was a song that was ordained. It was ordained. It was meant to be. That's all I can tell you about it.
Necole: I was very surprised by the feedback only because like you said, people don't give things a chance, they just see someone remixed 'One in a Million, Aaliyah' and they are like 'Oh hell no!!!!' But they actually listened to the song and they loved it. It had so many comments, mostly positive!!!
Timbaland: Yeah, because it was ordained! I know it was right, trust me. I got my hands all over it. And I just felt confident when we released it. I knew what it was.
On How He Met Tink and How She Reminded Him of Aaliyah
I woke up out of my sleep [one day] like you gotta give back. Spread your gift. Your gift is going to do other things. Then all of a sudden I met with the Interns and they let me listen to Tink on the song, 'Don't Tell Nobody' and I was like "Who is that?!" Then the rest was history.
Tink came to the studio, I watched her, she was rough on the [edges] but her story made so much sense, I was so intrigued. And I started asking about her life and she comes from a good home and it reminds me of everything like how when I first met Aaliyah.
For the most part, just know that I'm going to take my dear time to study a person. I'm not just going to throw it out there just to throw it. I'm going to go through a ringer like- how did your mama raise you? Are you cool with your parents? This and that. Because that makes a [difference]. Do you go to church? No? That ain't gonna work! Little things. That's what people need to process. I just want to give back to the culture.
Everybody else to me is selfish, [like] these big artists. I'm trying to give back and keep it going. I'm trying to be like... Oprah to music. I want to help people and go out and give back. People supported me for 25 years, I gotta give back to some of these people. It's hard out here.
On Tinks Hesitation to Put the Track Out (But Timb insisted on moving by Fate)
At first she felt a little nervous, because she ain't wanna [mess up]. But I was like- "It's me! I was baby girl. They not going to say anything."
People are going to think this [or] they are going to say that. But we've got to go off on fate. This is God, I don't care. There is going to be negativity. The world is a negative place and it's a positive place too. So my point was you've got to step out on fate.
After a while she started to feel like Aaliyah's presence was with her. She felt great about it. She was like "You know what Timb, you're right. We've got to step out on faith." Everything you gotta do is about faith.
On How He Knew He Had To Work With Tink (A Co-sign From Aaliyah)
So I'm [on the road], I'm sleeping and I promise you not, I heard and felt my sister's (Aaliyah's) presence, I just felt like she was in the car with me, riding with [us] in the car, and I like- dozed back off. I dozed back off and I heard her voice saying "She's the one." Now, "The One" meaning, not that she's another Aaliyah. Just meaning she's the one. She's a real artist. She's got it. She's just a real artist. Meaning she's got it. She would've fit in our camp. That's what I took it as. Like she would have fit with us- with Missy and all the rest of us. She would've fit with us.
On Comparing Tink to Lauryn Hill
Necole: You know for a long time, I just didn't know whether she was a singer or rapper.
Timbaland: Everything! That's the point. Like, Lee Daniels, he loves her. She was going to be a part of Empire but we were like- uh, let's save it for another time.
You ain't seen nothing like this since Lauryn Hill, since those days, trust me. She's giving you a message. She's telling you that all the stuff in the world that's going on today, isn't cool. 'I'm 19 years old and I know that ain't cool.' So that was her method and message in the song she released, 'Ratchet Commandments.'
She's a real artist, something we haven't seen in a long time, and that's why some people overlook it because we don't see that coming everyday. We always have a bunch of foolishness out here.
Timbaland also dropped a huge hint that Tink is working on remaking another hip hop classic- Nas and Lauryn Hill's "If I Ruled the World." What would be so dope about all of this is if Tink, who has already proven she slays in both the rapping and singing category, delivered both the rap versus and the hook to the track.
Would you be here for a Ms. Hill remake?