LOS ANGELES — Membership has its privileges. And when that exclusive association happens to be Timbaland's Beat Club, you never know who might flash their membership card when he takes the stage.
At the packed House of Blues in Hollywood on Friday night, the roster was a who's who of Timbaland's pals, from Justin Timberlake and Drake to Keri Hilson and Brandy. The two-hour throwdown was a star-studded hit parade that only someone with Tim's clout and deep address book could pull off.
The night started off simply enough, with the master producer walking out wearing his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and punching up some chest-rattling rhythms as his six-piece band laid down a slow rolling funk bedrock for "Timothy Where You Been." It wasn't long before Drake came ambling out for "Say Something," from Timbaland's Shock Value II LP, throwing the crowd into a frenzy as he bounced across the stage, seemingly completely healed from his knee injury last year.
The nimble rapper slid into his hit "Forever" without compatriots Eminem and Lil Wayne, who are expected to join him for a rendition of that song — along with Travis Barker — at Sunday night's Grammys.
The crowd might have been happy enough with Drake, but as soon as the rapper left the stage, L.A. native the Game hustled on with his posse, rolling hard to "Put You on the Game," then dropping an X-rated freestyle before giving the stage back to Tim. He wasn't alone long, though, as Hilson was up next, strutting in wearing a shimmery silver crop-top over a black catsuit and trading verses with Tim on "The Way I Are," then sticking around for her own "Turnin' Me On," "Knock You Down" and a funky taste of Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel."
The crowd went crazy when Timbaland gave a shout out to "Twilight" — which he's said was an influence on Shock Value II and, given all the guests thus far and the fact that he was showing images of Robert Pattinson on the big screen behind the stage, might have led them to believe that a castmember was coming out — but they were just as happy when he performed "Morning After Dark." The cavalcade of guests didn't stop there, as female rapper SoShy came out and reprised her bit in the song before Tim led the band into an instrumental breakdown where he gave everyone a bit of shine, James Brown-style.
Alas, Katy Perry was only there in spirit (i.e. on the big screen), singing a virtual duet on "If We Ever Meet Again," but after an extended salsa jam, star time revved up again as a sassy Brandy (a.k.a. rapper "Bran' Nu") walked out for the heavy funk of "Meet in the Middle." Wearing black hot pants, a black leather top and black suit coat with silver lapels, Brandy was almost unrecognizable as she broke into a freestyle over Timbaland's beatboxing, swinging her long black braid from side to side and boasting about being "born in Mississippi but raised in Cali."
And just when it seemed like there was no one else Tim could bring out, he kicked into the rib-rattling intro to "Carry Out." Now, at this point, the crowd had seen way more than it bargained for, so even just peeping video footage of Justin Timberlake on the big screen made them go crazy. But when JT strolled out, the place exploded. The old pals ripped it up for the sexual innuendo-heavy tune, then slid into JT's "SexyBack" and "My Love," which only served to remind the crowd just how much they adore the singer with the effortless vocals, fleet-footed finesse and serious beatboxing skills.
Clearly having a blast, the pair then served up "Crazy Girl," which was recorded for but didn't make the final cut of Shock Value II — a shame, because Timberlake was in fine falsetto form. The two looked out into a sea of cameras snapping photos of their superstar summit, gave a taste of JT's "LoveStoned," and then called it a night.