Music & Entertainment

Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”


Lesson time 09:38 min

Tim, Static Major, and Aaliyah had less than 24 hours to write “Are You That Somebody?” In this lesson, Tim explains how they did it. He also teaches subtle production techniques for turning good songs into great ones.

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If I, if I let you know, you can't tell nobody. I'm talking 'bout nobody. - "Are You That Somebody," man, that was a song that was the spirit of the moment. It was for a soundtrack called "Doctor Dolittle." And I remember we had to come up with a song by 11 o'clock the next day. So it was at night the other day-- I mean, the day before. And it was me, Static and Aaliyah all in the studio. And I was just going through sound. So let's play the track. I'll show you. [MUSIC - AALIYAH, "ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY"] (SINGING) Dirty South, uh-huh, can y'all really feel me? - Stop. So I had a sound say, , just one little note. So I took it, and played it on the keyboard to get that melody the same way. Fede showed you how he manipulated a guitar sound with the EBow. It's the same way. I started off at a slow tempo first. I said, . But the extra notes came later. Like, it was . Then I took it and sped it all the way up to, like, about-- I don't know-- 145 or-- I don't know-- at that time. But it gave it that . Because it was actually the sequence of the ASR-10 didn't-- when I put quantize, it didn't quantize it the way I was doing it. So it gave it that . I was like, well, it's kinda dope. And then I just kept it, so let's play. [MUSIC - AALIYAH, "ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY"] (SINGING) --Coast, feel me. Say what? Dirty South-- - See? (SINGING) Here we go. Can y'all really feel me? - That was right. (SINGING) Baby girl. East Coast. - Right. That was wrong. (SINGING) Dirty South, dirty, dirty, can y'all really feel me? - So it allowed me to do the drum around that. I did the drum with a-- (SINGING) D-- d-- dirty, dirty, can y'all really feel me? East Coast. - It allowed me to create around that guitar sound. So when I created the drums, and the guitar gave me that kind of cadence of the rhythm , I got the drum . So the other polyrhythm, that , that did that part. So what I did, once I got that rhythm, I went back into the mic booth and said . I added my mouth elements on top of the drum. And that just gave it that sweet, sonic sound that I call feeling. Here we go. Push play. [MUSIC - AALIYAH, "ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY"] (SINGING) I've been watching you like the hawk-- - Now, her voice was the icing on the cake. (SINGING) I pray. I pray. Boy, I promise you, if we-- - And Static writing the way Static wrote to the guitar was so-- it was-- as you hear him, the background. But his melody, he gave it the melody, so I was like, yes. We getting somewhere. This feels good. Then when he did this part, he said-- (SINGING) If I, if I let you know-- - He said-- (SINGING) You can't tell nobody. I'm talking 'bout nobody. - So stop right there. So when it comes to the hook, if you notice the beat is three-- probably three sounds right there in my mou...

Find your beat

Grammy-winning music producer Timbaland takes you behind the boards to teach you his process for creating iconic tracks with artists like Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Aaliyah. In his first-ever online class, learn how to collaborate with vocalists, layer new tracks, and create hooks that stick. Step into Timbaland’s studio and learn from one of the industry’s most innovative hit makers.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Just watching Timbaland and his stories really inspired me to do better in the studio. I have learned some of the raw percussion Timbaland uses in his music which is his beat boxing and layering into an actual beat. I thought that was genius.

Sounds are just out there, they only have to be found...great class, very inspiring, touching. Never let the feeling Dies...

To be completely honest there is a lot of key elements that is needed my career. It opened my eyes to a different way to make music. Im just not finish with my journey yet.

I think it was great! Timbaland had great advice and an amazing backstory that I enjoyed hearing.



chemestry, family, I'm looking fwd 2 finding mine... nowadays seems like most people makes music in order 2 make money instead of great hits

Sara F.

I started this class today at 4am to 8am. Slept at 9am. I’m at video 13 right now. Tim your energy is so high I’m on your level of excitement. Infectious class I’ll watch it a few more times through for sure! Inspirational ......

Shengming H.

Hi Tim,here is my track after watch your videos. Could you give me some advice? Really appreciate it.

A fellow student

I like the song but again have heard this story, more time spent explaining the creative process would have been better.

Jarren T.

This song is what made me really want to start making beats. Reading the book and taking this class has def been an inspiration.

Alex R.

I like most of the music he’s worked on, except for that song specifically because of that baby sample.

Austin C.

When he talks about the baby in the track...was worth every penny for me. What a beautiful unique way tp interpret sounds from every day life. Truly inspiring.

A fellow student

I love the way he explains things and expresses so much emotion when he breaks things down. Tim makes it very easy and fun to understand. I wish I could have him as my mentor. I feel I learned more from him in the last couple of hours about music and creating than I ever have from any of my past mentors and just trying to constantly learn on my own in a month.

Antonio P.

I have searching inspiration of experts for thousand hours of videos, books, pdf, and.... Wait!!! Just a minute! You all were there to explain me clearly how to make music. I love you guys!! I would stay my whole live with you!!! Thank you for the rest of my live!!!

Keith M.

Mmm Hmm...🍭So, to me, this lesson is Y'all are a kinship of Oompa Loompa's mixing up that sweet Magic over at The Chocolate Wonka Factory of Musical C-h-e-m-i-s-t-r-y. Dig you.