Consumer Guide Album
Justin Timberlake: Justified [Jive, 2002]
He's one giant step ahead of his audience, just like always, and though his talent and character were there for all to see, who knew he'd turn out this heady or beatwise? Maybe his mom, or his manager--a woman and an African American, respectively. There's plenty of Neptunes records, but none as nice; plenty of Timbaland records, but none as sexy. Tagging the lead track, he sums up his growth curve in six simple words that, somehow, no one ever thought of before: "Gentlemen, good night. Ladies, good mornin'." Then, as if he wasn't already in the door, he gooses the play with a relieved, knowing, friendly chuckle. Five straight hook tracks at the beginning are topped in the end by lubricious Janet and experimental Timbo. Any jerk who disses the awkwardness with which Justin calls out "Drums!" or gets guys and gals trading come-hithers should have been half as coltish at 21. He can still make *NSync records if he wants--the Brian McKnight mawk proves it. But if he does, it'll be out of the goodness of his heart.