Timbaland made a longtime dream a reality by using A.I. to create a song with The Notorious B.I.G. but fans have mixed reactions to the iconic producer’s use of the late rapper’s voice.
On Wednesday (May 3), Timbaland hit up Instagram to reveal that one of the very few accomplishments the esteemed beatmaker had yet to achieve in his storied career has come to fruition. With the help of artificial intelligence, Timbo locked in an original collab with the late great Notorious B.I.G. in a song that has garnered a tremendous amount of both controversy and praise.
“Alright so, I’m sitting here with my brother, Creative God, and we know that it’s a lot of talk of A.I. and we know the feelings of violating certain things but let tell you something,” Timbaland said while prefacing his creation using Biggie Smalls’ voice in the clip below. “I got a solution that’s going to be beneficial to everybody but in the meantime, I gotta share something I’ve been working on because I always wanted to do this, and I never got a chance to. I always wanted to work with Big and I never got a chance to until today. I came out right—play.”
As Timbaland lets the computer-generated audio loose, The Notorious B.I.G.‘s immediately recognizable baritone voice can be heard flowing over Tim’s signature drums and synths as if the legendary Brooklynite never left this Earth on March 9, 1997. Through an algorithm that was likely used to train A.I. software to replicate Biggie’s voice, the lyrics find Smalls name-dropping other fallen rappers Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke and Young Dolph, all of which were murdered long after The Notorious B.I.G. passed.
Due to the ongoing controversial nature of the ever-evolving use of A.I. in hip-hop, many fans of both The Notorious B.I.G. and the Virginia-bred producer expressed a strong sense of distaste for Timbaland‘s representation of the MC who many consider to be the greatest of all time.
“Nah, this ain’t it,” one Instagram user said in Timbaland‘s comments section. “It’s Big either so what is there to be excited about really? We got enough bull destroying hip-hop and the culture. Music being called hip-hop when it’s not. Hip-hop should be getting preserved. It should be organic, from the heart and soul. It’s not with A.I. We’ve got enough fake ish out there.”
Another user referenced Timbaland‘s deep connection with the late Aaliyah, questioning how the “One in a Million” producer would react if someone used the late singer’s in a similar manner.
“This is disrespectful to his legacy, man,” the user wrote. “SMH. Now if somebody did this with Aaliyah how would you feel?”
Another person added: “Don’t let ya selfishness blind you, brotha. It’s wrong period. I’m sure his family wants to hug him every day much worse than you wanted to work with him. But they can’t because he’s gone.”
On the flip side, some hip-hop fans are thrilled that two of the greatest contributors to the rap game are able to create music together, even in The Notorious B.I.G.’s death.
“This is how BIG would be riding them beats today,” one excited fan wrote. “On some smooth G s**t, spitting wild bars. SMH. Damn, what could’ve been… For Pac also. R.I.P. BIG and Pac.”
Another user is clamoring for more and simply stated: “I NEEDDDDD a full BIG album produced by Timbo!!!!”
“Okay so I’m a Biggie fan and this just got me HYPEEEE,” another commented. “I miss this kind of rap. We need new rappers.”
One fan of Timbaland‘s new Biggie Smalls track called out the naysayers by boldly stating that they see no difference between the A.I.-generated song and The Notorious B.I.G.‘s posthumous albums such as 1999’s Born Again and 2005’s Duets: The Final Chapter.
“Y’all tripping,” the commenter clapped back. “This ain’t no different than listening to that Born Again CD. IDC that shot is hard.”
Interestingly enough, when Timbaland posted the video clip of his new A.I. song with The Notorious B.I.G., he tagged Young Guru, Jay-Z’s personal engineer, who has been very vocal about the deep concerns he has for the use of artificial intelligence in hip-hop. Guru has yet to respond.