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.

Teaches Producing and Beatmaking
Step inside the production studio with Timbaland. In his first-ever online class, Tim teaches his process for creating infectious beats and making sonic magic.
Get All-Access


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.

This class was a COMPLETE inspiration! #TreTraxxx

New ideas and most of all an adjustment in attitude not to take things so seriously.

That’s opened a new way of thinking/creating to me

This class inspired me to keep believin' in the gift that was given to me and not try to imitate anything by MYSELF !!! When you have it, you know it, then it's all about how bad you're willing to work for it. Never stop, never surrender. Thank you Timbaland and thanks to the whole team. Like I told you, you'll hear about Kali one day. Now let's WORK !!!!!!!!!


A fellow student

It is really amazing to me because I thought that because I never managed to study formal music I was doing it all too randomly and know I know that this is actually the only way!!! So it's so liberating, thank you so much and I love Timberland's vibe and smile he's so cute!


Amazing. This class is truly something special. What is shared here is like a religious experience

A fellow student

Tim, that's a wonderful, masterful and brilliant Masterclass. Thank you for sharing it all with such passion and love. Music is Life..

Dr.Mike B.

Love this class, very inspiring I use my music to get to a creative space between working out my Artificial Intelligence Neuron Research and my music. for me, it's all about experimenting and following the music and then working outside the Box. And now you have given more to work with. Thanks


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.