Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

Hip-hop might not be my territory, but I knew enough to realise I was hearing something special here, a music that couldn’t be more different from the bleary Wu-Tang swagger or icy gangsta slickness that seemed to be dominating rap. For a start “Up Jump The Boogie” was anally precise, every sound clipped and positioned just so. At the same time, though, it was the poppiest hip-hop had sounded since Dre’s heyday, with its tingly flecks of disco strings constantly flirting with all-out rapture. But then again, Timbaland’s aesthetic was distinctly less-is-more, giving you just enough beauty to set you craving and then holding back: tension in paradise. The result: Timbaland’s productions were among the sexiest on wax as well as the oddest, a sultry miasma of lazily twining rhythms. Even Tim and Missy’s syllable-by-syllable raps can’t spoil the atmosphere.

For me, “Up Jump The Boogie” is Timbaland’s classic. There’s a simplicity to it that sounds crude now (when every mainstream producer has stolen Tim’s sound, and when his own productions have taken a rococo turn) but also dangerous and vital. It’s the most stoned and metaphysical of his jams, too – mostly Tim and Missy deal with boasting, partying or physical need, but here they take you on a weed-fuelled late-night ramble, even getting political for one brief, shivery couplet. And the boogie indeed springs up from the grave it had lain in, summoned by the intoxicating sound of a brilliant young technician testing out his rules-changing skills.