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Written by on May 1, 2023

Timbaland has spoken about how Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompa theme song inspired the beat to Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?”

Per Pitchfork, Timbo spoke about the record during a panel discussion at the 2023 Pop Conference at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Timbo sat alongside Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Take a Daytrip – with the latter making Timbaland laugh after revealing Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby” beat was inspired by a scene from Shrek 2.

“I actually was trying to make the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory beat from the ‘Oompa Loompa’ song,” Timbo revealed, before singing the hook from the film. “I took that rhythm and I listened back to it and I was like, ‘Man, that’s a dope addition.’ That’s what I was trying to attempt, but in a hip-hop way.”

He added: “I gotta thank Willy Wonka for that.”

He also spoke about the track’s signature baby noise, which he revealed was pulled from a ’60’s sound effects record. He noted that sound brought the song together.

“The baby part was me going through my sounds,” he said. “I feel like life is full of music. As soon as you wake up, hearing the trees, that’s music. Hearing the crickets, that’s music. I feel like everything that we do is music. When you come outside, listen to the trees, the birds, the crickets, the animals, they all make music.”

He continued, “So that’s always been my thing because we didn’t have money when I was growing up, so how could you make music? And my thought was how do you get your gift out when you don’t have the necessary tools to do it? So I always pulled on nature, ’cause I pulled on buckets, spoons, cans to make my beats because I couldn’t afford a drum machine, so I never dialed away from nature, because nature molded who I am today.

“So I was going through my effects sounds, and I heard this baby… And this baby came across, and it was laughing, and that [one sound] wasn’t the whole thing… I got to that one part, and as soon as the beat came on, I just hit the button. I didn’t think it was gonna work. I was talking to Aaliyah from where she was sitting on the couch, and I just hit the button and it was in key. Everything was perfect. I put it in the song and she said, ‘Oh that’s so cute!’”

Aalyiah’s “Are You That Somebody” appeared on the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack in 1998. The track, which was co-written and composed by Static Major, was a commercial success, reaching number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song later earned Aaliyah a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

While the late singer died in a plane crash in 2001, her dedicated fan base is making sure her memory lives on and recently unveiled a petition to try and get her inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“Aaliyah broke barriers, ground & records within her music and still continues to influence many acts within the R&B, pop & hip hop landscape,” the GoFundMe page read, adding “Aaliyah being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would not only be fitting for a musical legend but well-deserved for someone who is still influencing a new generation of artists and musicians with her innovative body of work that stands the test of time to this very day.”

Aaliyah became eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 when her debut album, 1994’s Age Ain’t Nothin But a Number, turned 25.


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