Chapter 5 of 15 from Timbaland

Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”


Tim recalls how he built the backing track for Jay-Z’s hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and explains how to create a complex texture from simple elements.

Topics include: Song Origins: "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"

Tim recalls how he built the backing track for Jay-Z’s hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and explains how to create a complex texture from simple elements.

Topics include: Song Origins: "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"


Timbaland 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.

Learn More


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.

Grammy-winning music producer Timbaland teaches his process for constructing beats, collaborating in the studio, and creating chart-topping hits.

Along with a downloadable workbook, the class includes two exclusive new songs and stems you can use to remix or build beats of your own.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Timbaland will also critique select student work.


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

This is my third music production master class (I also took Armin Van Buuren's and Deadmou5's). It was a great capstone. Less detailed than the others, but Tim has a totally different process. His way of laying down the beats vocally first is ingenious.

This master class is down right the best thing I've ever invested in as far as music education for production. Timbaland was so authentic I truly felt like I was right there with him in the studio. I learned so much and he dropped a lot of jewels for us up and coming producers. If you LOVE music you will never give up you must persevere and be great Thank You!!! Timbaland.

Learning how to start ideas with vocals and keeping the track about the energy was helpful. Nice to see some plugins that I wasn't familiar with as well.

Words can't EXPRESS the AMBITION!!! This course injected into my veins... Thank You TIMBO and and a huge THANK YOU TO "MASTER CLASS"!!


Anand R.

This video has a hidden gem in it about sonics...btw Timbo - you gave the song the name when you were jumping around after playing the track to Jay Z, you did the 'dirt off your shoulder' gesture, i think Jay Z saw that and thought ima run with that :)

Savaunn K.

Can't download the pdf for this lesson seems to be the problem with everyone here

A fellow student

Amazing video of young JZ & Timbaland!! So much inspiration - to get a groove so deep like "Dirt off.." takes tim :D

Johnny B.

Okay... Did Jay Z pull the idea of "Dirt Off Your Shoulders" from Timbaland's dance? I know Jay don't write and he never heard that beat before Tim melted his ears and faces off...


when I clicked on this link to download the pdf i get this error "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below. <Error> <Code>AccessDenied</Code> <Message>Request has expired</Message> <X-Amz-Expires>3600</X-Amz-Expires> <Expires>2019-02-28T15:34:38Z</Expires> <ServerTime>2019-02-28T15:39:46Z</ServerTime> <RequestId>7EA42658C41943D5</RequestId> <HostId> Qf5pC3GulHR54qi4L31DPxxE57DNttm0LoiLldJ1hm/gJRorTPaI0FDBy2XxpOZ19czasTGKs00= </HostId> </Error>

A fellow student

In the actual video clip Tim was brushing off his shoulders while he was dancing and I believe that's what inspired the chorus.


- You play-- play me something. I know where I'm going. - Huh? - Play me something. - How about we do something? - Oh, man. Why we go through this every freaking time? - Yeah. I mean, what? [MUSIC PLAYING] JAY-Z: Now tuned into the mothafuckin' greatest. - Jay-Z was doing "Fade to Black" with "Dirt off your Shoulders." If you saw "Fade to Black," the storyline is there. I had a bunch of beats made, and I played the beats. But when it got to "Dirt off your Shoulders"-- even the beat I played before, I knew was dope. But I felt that dirt off your shoulders was-- the first one was special. But there was just something about it. I don't know what it was, but it was a feeling. And I know when I did it, it had a certain feeling. So when I played it, that's why I reacted that way. Because the feeling was so contagious that it passed over to him, you know? So let's play it. [MUSIC - JAY-Z, "DIRT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS"] JAY-Z: Now tuned into the mothafuckin' greatest. - You hear that? It's just the sonics of the drum. See, watch this. You know why? It was the feel-- stop, stop. His ad libs at that moment was the feeling. All you feeling is the excitement. You now tuned into-- that's what this track made him do. And Jay-Z is one of the best poets that I know. I call him a poet. He's not a rapper. He's a poet. He doesn't write anything down. The beat made him feel that way. "Dirt off your Shoulders"-- don't ask me how he came up with that title. That's Jay-Z. But I know the beat made him say, "You're now tuned in"-- you know what I'm saying? All the ad libs, that was all the feeling. So let's play the beat. Play it again. Pause. All it is is two, three sounds. That's it. It was a tape strings, and I had got a tape strings sound from Japan. I forgot where I got it from-- some part of Japan. And I just-- [VOCALIZING KEYBOARD MUSIC]. Actually, I was just playing around, just hitting like-- [KEYBOARD MUSIC]-- and recorded it. And I was like, and I pushed play-- ooh, this sound good. So I had these drums that I always loved that was heavy, but I'd never had the right sound to put on top of it. And when I came up with that tape strings was so mono. It was so dirty and dull, and I just ran with that. And after that, he put his rap over it. That song don't have that many instruments in it. That song has just three instruments. It's nothing-- it's all about that tape strings. Just like Pony was about the [SOUND EFFECT], that one sound. And you know, back then-- and my drums are always heavy from the ASR. So that one sound just went perfect with that, you know? Just listen to. [MUSIC - JAY-Z, "DIRT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS"] JAY-Z: Crazy, baby. Don't forget that boy told you get that-- - Snare. Drum. Kick. Hi-hat. But you listen to the hi-hats-- dirty. That's a match, the tape strings. JAY-Z: Middle finger to the law, nigga, grippin' my balls. Said the ladies they love me. From the bleachers they ...