Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

No Damn Cliff

He wasn’t always easy to work with. Mosley was becoming a star himself at the point when he began working with Furtado, and the pressure was intense. “It was always challenging to work with him, like, ‘You gotta hit a home run!’ ” He worked like he was still in the basement, hustling for a break. “He lived in this tiny little tour bus outside the studio, and he’d be in there until 1 a.m.,” she says. “Then he’d go out to a club until 6 a.m.,” not to party so much as to see what kinds of sounds were getting people excited. “Then he’d go back to the studio. He’s making a product for a consumer that needs it. He’s very aware, at an intrinsic level, of that fact that people want to lose themselves.”

Maybe because he felt the same way. “He’s kind of socially awkward, to be honest,” says Furtado. “He’s distracted a lot of the time, and fidgety.” Like a lot of geniuses, Mosley is equal parts self-loathing and self-aggrandizing. He isn’t the kind of producer who likes to stay behind the scenes. He’d insert his gruff voice into other people’s songs—that’s him urging Justin Timberlake to “get your sexy on,” in “SexyBack.” Although he’d had little success with music under his own name, he wasn’t prepared to give it up. During the making of Loose, he was putting together Shock Value, his first solo album since becoming a famous, big-time producer, and he’d become preoccupied with his own image. “He was kind of coming to terms who he was,” says Furtado. “He wasn’t, like, slick like Pharrell, or mysterious like Dr. Dre; he was Timbaland, the chubby guy in the corner.”

“Image is everything,” he told a reporter, of his decision to lose 100 pounds on a strict diet and exercise program. But for every pound he lost, his ego seemed to expand. Furtado describes their relationship during the making of Loose as “volatile.” One of their fights was over the song “Promiscuous.” Furtado thought the lyrics—a flirty back-and-forth between a man and a woman—were dumb, and the listener does get the sense their attraction is not based on intelligence. But neither are most people’s. Mosley won the argument, and “Promiscuous” hit No. 1 in the summer of 2006 and became an anthem for hookup culture. But although they toured together to promote it, “we actually stopped talking for a while,” she says.

The success of Shock Value, which went platinum, only stoked Mosley’s ego further. Eventually, he alienated Jay Z, too. During the making of 2009’s The Blueprint 3, Mosley was elusive, repeatedly turning down or blowing off recording sessions. Then the tracks he had worked on started leaking. This drove Jay Z, who is fanatical about when and how his music is released, crazy. “It just ruined the entire thing,” Jay Z complained to the BBC. “It seemed like it was more about him than the actual album.”

Although he had bristled at not being credited for his contributions to Swing Mob, Mosley was doing the same thing to the producers who worked under him, according to a co-producer, Scott Storch, who publicly accused him of usurping his credit on “Cry Me a River” and of regularly giving his right-hand man, Danja, a.k.a. Nate Hills, the shaft on hits that he was responsible for, like Madonna’s “4 Minutes.” Hills never admitted there was a problem, and Mosley denied it, but “4 Minutes” was the last track they worked on together before Danja struck out on his own.

New Tim looks back on this period with regret. “I was feeling myself a little too much,” he says. His attitude, he says, was rooted in insecurity. “When you from the streets, you just don’t want to get close to people,” he says. “You’re in a different world that you just aren’t used to. Like, ‘I’m cool, get away from me.’ ”

Furtado chalks it up to growing pains. “He’d been through this remarkable physical transformation, and people wanted to know about him. It’s hard for anybody to go through that,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure to live up to that, there’s pressure to spend money, to live this larger-than-life existence.”

Which he was by all means doing. After he got money, Mosley told E! in his True Hollywood Story, “I became high-maintenance just like that.” He was amassing jewelry, real estate, and a fleet of vehicles that put Devante Swing’s to shame. “He’d buy a car and drive it a week and say, ‘Oh, you can have it,’ ” says Pettaway. “He don’t care. I wrecked one of his Bentleys, he didn’t care.”

Pettaway was with him in the Bahamas when he met Monique Idlett, a marketing executive who bowled him over with her resemblance to Aliyah. “I thought I saw a ghost,” he said later. He rented a private island for their wedding, which was covered by InStyle.

Current Issue
Subscribe to New York

Give a Gift