Man of the Woods is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake. It was released on February 2, 2018. The production of the album was handled by Timberlake, The Neptunes, Timbaland, Danja, J-Roc, Eric Hudson, and Rob Knox. The album's first single "Filthy" was released on January 5, 2018, followed by "Supplies" and "Say Something" and the title track "Man of the Woods". Timberlake will embark on the Man of the Woods Tour in March 2018. The album is named after his son Silas, whose name means "Man of the forest."
After completing the successful world tour for his previous records The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, Timberlake took a one-year break and later returned to produce the soundtrack for the animated film Trolls in 2016. In a radio interview in May 2016 Timberlake first confirmed working on a new album but without a date set for release yet, "I think where I grew up in America has a lot of influence – Growing up in Tennessee — very central of the country — Memphis is known as the birthplace of rock & roll, but also the home of the blues, but Nashville's right down the street so there's a lot of country music." Timberlake worked with producers Timbaland, Danja, The Neptunes, and Max Martin, and in following interviews he stated, "It sounds more like where I've come from than any other music I've ever made... It's Southern American music. But I want to make it sound modern – at least that's the idea right now." In December 2017, Timberlake's website displayed the logo featuring the letters "MOTW". Rolling Stone physical magazine reported that the album would feature a collaboration with singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton. Stapleton and Timberlake previously collaborated in a live performance at the 2015 CMA Awards, with some music publications speculating his next record may be influenced by Southern music.
Release and promotion
Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl LII halftime show at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4, 2018. He confirmed via his social media pages that Man of the Woods will be released on February 2, with a video trailer introducing the album and the influence behind it, "this album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any album I've ever written–where I'm from." The album's lead single, "Filthy" was released on January 5 along with the album pre-order. The song was released with a music video, and three additional videos by different directors will be released weekly beginning January 18, with "Supplies" being the first, followed by the Chris Stapleton-featuring "Say Something" and "Man of the Woods". He also confirmed a performance at the 2018 Brit Awards.
With the announcement of "Filthy", Variety confirmed guest appearances by Stapleton, The Neptunes and Alicia Keys on the album. The cover art was photographed by Ryan McGinley. An exclusive version of the album and its vinyl edition will be available at Target; both were made available for presale the day "Filthy" was released.
Chris Stapleton is featured on the album's third single "Say Something".
Alicia Keys is featured on the album's eighth song "Morning Light"
Initial discussions for the album began several years before the production of the album, between Timberlake and Pharrell Williams. Production was placed on hold for two years, while Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel had their son, Silas. Production began between Timberlake, Williams and Chad Hugo, with the first song for the album being the title-track, which is the Latin translation of Timberlake's son's name. Timberlake had not worked with Williams and Hugo (also known as production duo The Neptunes) after a label dispute with rap group Clipse during Timberlake's time with Jive Records. During an interview with Beats 1's Zane Lowe, Timberlake said: "It became challenging for him to work with any Jive artist at that point. If I’m being totally honest about it I was extremely hurt being caught up in the middle of it, but at the same time I had a shitload of money stolen, you know, from me by somebody else when I was in the group. I had already gone through legal troubles, and I kind of felt like, you know what, I’m at this point where I feel like I have so much ahead of me, I just don’t want to be in the middle of the record label and somebody that, you know, I consider a friend. And so I feel like I kind of just removed myself from the situation."
As with FutureSex/LoveSounds, recording sessions for the album were loose and had multiple studios open for work. In one room, Danja and Timbaland worked, Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes, worked in another room and producer and member of The Y's, Rob Knox and Eric Hudson worked in another. A direction was not discussed among the production team too much, as Timberlake already had an idea of the direction he wanted the album to take.
In an interview with Complex, producer Danja spoke of the recording sessions for Man of the Woods, "We didn't have any conversations about the current state of music and that's what we always do. We go in the studio and just do what we feel. This time around, I just feel like he had more of a direction. Like, when we did FutureSex/LoveSounds, we didn't have any conversations of direction or what's going on in the current state of music. We went in and had fun and made music." He also spoke about the vision that Timberlake had for the album: "I remember walking into the studio, and I'm like, 'So, what's the vibe?' He just raised his hands up like, 'This is the vibe.' And what he had on was a flannel, some Adidas, some jeans. He had his beard and a skully on. That was the vibe."
Timberlake's wife, Jessica Biel and his son Silas, have uncredited vocals on a number of songs on the album. Biel appears on the album's lead-single "Filthy" and "Hers (Interlude)". When sequencing the album, Timberlake felt that "Filthy" was "a palette-cleanser, then we wanted to take you into the forest, take you outside, so I felt like I needed a voice of consciousness". Timberlake wrote Biel's parts for her, which were subsequently recorded on the Voicenotes iPhone application. Timberlake wanted her to sound like "the ghost, a presence, but we're following ". The "Hers (Interlude)" was recorded after Timberlake mixed the album's eleventh song "Flannel".
When announcing his Man of the Woods Tour, Timberlake revealed the inspiration for both the album and tour came from the outdoors as well as his family, "The outdoors is the inspiration for a lot of these songs. That's the main idea. The tour will be able to bring the outside in. How can we bring that to life? I want people to see the inspiration for how it ended up sounding. I've never seen that done before: Bring the outside in."
Chris Stapleton (who is featured on the album's ninth single "Say Something") was initially only writing songs with Timberlake, before being asked to sing on the song, “I really just went out to Los Angeles to write songs with him, it’s a very fluid process with him, there’s a lot going on. That was one of those things where there wasn’t necessarily a plan. He was like ‘All right, you hop in there and take a verse,’ and I’m like, ‘You want me to do what?’ ... It came out great. I had a blast with him, he’s a great creative force and one of those guys that if you get a chance to work with him, you should.”. Stapleton also has writing credits on other songs on the album, including the Alicia Keys-featuring "Morning Light" and "The Hard Stuff" as well as guitar on the lead-single "Filthy".
The genre of the album incorporates traditional R&B as well as influences from country and funk described as "...Americana with 808s". In a second teaser trailer for the album, Timberlake said that the album has a number of influences. "It's meant to be heard outside even more than inside, I believe. You talk about those, like, Southern guitars and that sound that feels like heritage. That is me exercising my love for where I came from." Rolling Stone described most of the album's first half is "cosmopolitan future-funk," while Variety stated the music is funk-soul.
Ahead of the album release, Timberlake hosted a listening session with music industry insiders and members of the press. Associated Press commented the album features pop, R&B and electronic tracks.
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