One of the beauties of the human experience is the ability to be multi-dimensional. Each person has a unique set of characteristics that, on the surface, may seem to contrast but make up a tapestry of people-centeredness that allows life to be less boring and the pursuit of passions more engaging.
During AFROTECH Conference 2023, attendees were brought into a real-life example through an in-depth conversation with Hip-Hop producer Timbaland. While much of his discussion with the audience was centered around the future and possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI), including its intersections with the music industry, he dropped many gems that any entrepreneur or creative could use to advance their work.
After his on-stage presence, AFROTECH had the chance to sit with Timbaland and go in-depth on his views beyond the music studio and how that has impacted his career trajectory.
Timbaland has been in the music game for over 20 years. Despite his success, one thing he credits for his longevity is realizing that what can seem like an overnight phenomenon is backed by years of hard work and persistence.
“The key to this is that timing is everything. Okay?” Timbaland explained. “And not to get caught up in, ‘Oh, this is hot. Oh, it’s going to go in tomorrow.’ Just know when it does blow up, the timing is right, and you will not know when it happens. It will hit you when you least suspected.”
A core example of this is the track Timbaland produced for R&B singer Ginuwine. The hit song “Pony” debuted in 1996 and garnered immediate success and attention. However, the release of the classical tune was an eight-year journey in the making before the public ever got to experience it, Timbaland says.
Along with proper time and a consistent work ethic, he recognizes the power of collaboration and partnership as a tool for advancement.
“I think just coming here [AFROTECH] to fellowship could be the timing for your next step,” Timbaland said. “I’m just meeting these great-minded people and gathering all the information. You can never stop getting information. And that’s why I think just being in a room is not about your business flourishing. It is about connecting with like-minded people to get your business to flourish. And I think this is a beautiful thing. I think it’s all about fellowship.”
Whether at AFROTECH or beyond, it is commonly understood that your network is a significant component of your net worth. Being in the room where the proverbial magic happens is a part of the cheat code.
Many founders have disclosed that the journey to success can be lonely, especially for a Black founder. So, being in spaces like AFROTECH can be a Wakanda-like experience for those seeking community and collaboration to get to the next level.
But there is an art to partnership and collaboration. While organic connections are essential, intentional networking saves time and targets desired outcomes; that way, you connect with people who get it and understand what you are trying to accomplish.
“For me, it’s about not just giving me the money now. Believe in me,” Timbaland noted.
“Someone who gets it and understands when you hit a bump, to just give me guidance to help me get off this bump. I’m not asking you to save me but give me some tools to point me in the right direction. Just somebody who believes,” he added.
As much as Timbaland has accomplished in songwriting, producing, rapping, and creating the series Verzuz, he is not done evolving. Whether embracing AI or digging deep into identifying his subsequent entrepreneurial pursuits, Timbaland’s consistent connecting dot is persistence and dedication as manifested through divine and purposeful inspiration.
“I’ve been listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes’ sermons lately, particularly the one ‘Strengthen What Remains,’” Timbaland said. “Sometimes, you have no solution; sometimes, you already have one you don’t pay attention to. Working with new artists, there are so many headaches. But now, finally, that word I always hear strengthens what remains because you have a gift. And so that gift has taken me on a journey to where I am today and brought another light.”
Lover of Culture. Curator of Motivation. Advocate for Equity.
Josh Rodgers is a writer and content creator originally from Memphis, TN. Along with AfroTech, Josh’s work can be seen on Blavity News, Travel Noire, Shadow & Act, and Buzzfeed. When he isn’t writing, he can be found on the mic as the co-host and founder of The Jigsaw Podcast – a platform dedicated to helping Black millennials attempt to navigate the craziest puzzle piece ever created, life.