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Personal takeaways from The Emperor of Sound and applying to 2018

It’s 8:48AM, January 1st, 2018. Officially a new year. And yes, I did happen to be in the car when Midnight struck, and yes, my favorite station indeed played “New Years Day” by U2. I’ll be breaking out their U218 Singles today (2018 = U218... how great!)

I dropped by Half Price Books after a dentist appointment this past week, thinking I might score some new fiction, or anything that was more of a joy-read versus heavier stuff like biblical studies or commentary (not that I even read those).

I'm now officially certain that I *always* go to the musician’s memoir/autobiography section. In this case, other famous people were right next to the music bios section, so I perused. I picked up & considered books of the likes of Christopher Plummer, Julie Andrews, Alan Cummings, Joel McHale, and Ellen DeGeneres. Most of those didn’t seem to please everyone on (I put Alan’s in my wishlist), but I did walk away with 4 books, including Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody, and Timbaland’s The Emperor of Sound. They just look more appealing than my Keith Richard’s Life right now - sorry, Keith.

My strange affinity for Timbaland started back in 2006 in Izmir, Turkey. Beautiful resort on the coast - we were there for a conference, not because we just get to vacation in Eurasia. I remember Coldplay’s “Yellow” being sung constantly by the Yellow Team, and Pirates of the Caribbean’s Johnny Depp was still the hottest guy on the planet.

JustinTimberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds came out in 2006, and “My Love” was *the* song on repeat by the pools, the beach, everywhere. Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” was also circulating, and it was undeniable that they were similar, but at the time I didn't truly care to know why.

Shock Value came out soon after that in 2007, and “Oh Timbaland”, “Give It To Me”, “The Way I Are”, and “Apologize” (yes, that one) were my most memorable tracks (which honestly might be because we only purchased THOSE tracks on iTunes. Remember buying tracks on iTunes?! Times have changed.)

I feel like it’s safe to say that though JT was obviously known & getting even more popular, One Republic’s “Apologize” really solidified white-America’s knowledge of who Timbaland actually was. I stand by that because I had NO CLUE that Timbaland & Missy Elliot literally grew up together and have been working running buddies ever since. For real - how could a Central Texas white girl know?!

Back to Half Price Books. A lot of the reviews for other lengthy autobiography’s (such as Christopher Plummer’s) shared that unless you love name dropping & already know a lot about the subject, they probably wouldn’t be very fun reads.

Since my background was fairly void of Missy Elliot, you might assume any name drops from The Emperor of Sound would go above my head, but they didn’t - and mostly because most of names casually introduced like “no big deal” are still huge today. When I discovered that Tim and Pharrell went to highschool together, I almost flipped out. Missy, Pharrell, Ludacris, Ginuwine, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake - the list goes on a little, but not much more, as the people who are mentioned are the key players who made waves alongside him in this career. 

I couldn’t put the book down, but honestly I was hooked way before Missy got mentioned. As a gigging musician and a music teacher, something about reading Tim describe his upbringing in Virginia and his love for sounds was refreshing and mesmerizing. It’s obvious that his thankfulness towards his parents in those formative years is strong, as his mom's encouragement led to the musician and producer he is today. It was a potent reminder for myself in how I’ve been blessed to be raised by parents who love good music. On top of that, his scripture dropping in tough times was legit and incredibly cool to read.

He mentioned throughout this bio how he didn’t want to be locked into one genre, but to work with people from across the globe. Unique and fresh sounds - constant goals to anchor his work by… and that all struck a chord with me, especially since it felt like the culmination of those goals started coming to fruition with FutureLove/SexSounds, when kids from Wales, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, England, and the US danced to on the coast of the Aegean Sea.

At the end of it all, they include “Timbaland’s Rules For Collaboration”.

Mind you, I finished this book in one day since I couldn’t put it down. I was in the middle of the week where I was dealing with what felt like highschool drama in regards to how to handle a situation with employers. I was frustrated and I felt spent, as I had tried to be as useful as possible, yet I was emotionally convinced that they had no clue that I might've been the person who had one (ie. a clue).

All 10 of his rules are solid, but #2 is titled “Pay Your Dues. But Don’t Be Used.”, and I immediately resonated with it - and then I relaxed. I was reminded that there is a difference between the two, and I had the power to delineate them. I had the power to walk away if necessary.

That situation worked itself out more or less over the weekend, but as someone working in the music business, Timbaland’s story, rules, and nuggets of wisdom stayed potent throughout the rest of my week, and I’m so glad they did. They’re applicable to everyone and every walk of life; the fact that they’re surrounded by a very cool series of musical events is just icing on the cake.

As we walk into this new year of 2018, recognizing your ability to continue and increase in loving, growing, learning, and forgiving is crucial. Here’s an excerpt from the end of the book that I feel like is a solid reminder of who we are and who we can be:


From the very beginning, the love of music has been what has driven my happiness: from my dad playing Rick James and Prince on Saturday afternoon to the singing and swinging and getting merry like Christmas with my mother and her church folk on Sundays. In her book, A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson wrote words that have given great confidence to creative people the world over:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.* There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’

You may be thinking, I’m not musical, I’m not artistic, I’m not creative, but we are all makers in this world. We make businesses and we make families. We make communities. We make meals. We manufacture peace, hope, and understanding in our hearts and our actions. We make love - in every sense of the word. And if it’s true that sometimes we make a mess - Lord knows, I’ve made my share - we are also blessed with the opportunity of second chances; there’s always a chance to grow a little and clean our messes up.”


Shock Value II came out in December 2009, and it was a small yet big part of my highschool playlist and my growing musical landscape. I loved completely jamming out to “Carry Out” with my brother, even though it was a little weird (it’s also probably the best song ever to teach about euphemisms). I put “If We Ever Meet Again” on one of the few CD mixtapes I made for my then highschool sweetheart (now husband). “Morning After Dark” became a track I’d replay to de-stress from working on Theory my Sophomore year in college, which led to me directly interacting with SoShy herself on Twitter (#starstruck!).

And even though there are countless other songs that Timbaland touched with his rapping or magic producer gloves that are way more acclaimed, the songs mentioned here were part of my own musical tapestry. My dream of becoming some sort of producer was spurred on and inspired by this man. And even though Timothy Mosley might never read this, I hope that even he is able to walk into 2018 with Marianne Williamson’s words fresh in his mind, to remind him that the race is not over. Not by a long shot.

*Bold emphasis added by Morgan

Happy New Year! -Morgan Wallace Tremillo

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