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Source Material: Justin Timberlake

by Barry Walters

Source Material: Justin Timberlake


Famed trombonist Fred Wesley of James Brown's backing band The JB's once said that the Philly soul style of Philadelphia International masterminds Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff "put a bow tie on the funk." He was complimenting the elegance of Philly acts like The O'Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and MFSB. It's a chicness that Justin Timberlake now in turn contemporizes, not only through his sartorial choices in the packaging of The 20/20 Experience, but also through his use of strings, sophisticated jazz chords and plush sonic textures.

Sweet Philly soul is but one of many musical colors referenced in the album's bright, broad and experimental palate. Excited by "Take Back the Night," the Quincy Jones/Michael Jackson-shaded lead single from The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2, a companion and sequel album due September 30, we've put together a list of kindred albums that likely inspired Timberlake and his ultra-talented collaborator Timbaland. Ranging from the righteous falsetto crooning of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions to the introspective neo-psychedelic R&B of Frank Ocean, these classic platters should help you zoom in closer to a disc that continues to illuminate and elucidate with every repeated play.

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