Magoo, One Half of Rap Duo Timbaland & Magoo, Dies at 50

Magoo, the Virginia rapper who was part of the duo Timbaland & Magoo and who featured on the hit songs “Up Jumps da Boogie” and “Luv 2 Luv U,” has died. He was 50.

Timbaland confirmed the news of Magoo’s death on Instagram. “This one hits different 🥲🥲🥲 long live Melvin aka magoo !!!💔💔💔 Tim and Magoo forever 🕊️🕊️🕊️ rest easy my king,” the rapper-producer wrote. No further details or cause of death were provided.

Magoo’s long-time friend and collaborator Missy Elliott tweeted, “This kind of post I don’t wish on any1😢 at 1st I was in shock & now reality has kicked in😭i asked you to rap on Beep Me 911 & I played your verse over & over because I always loved your VA style 😞posting this is so heartbreaking I am so lost for words… 😭🕊️💔 #RIPMAGOO.”

Magoo was part of a collective of Virginia rappers and producers that rose to prominence in the mid to late 1990s, a group that included Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley of the Neptunes and N.E.R.D., the rap group Clipse and producer Danja. Magoo found mainstream success working with longtime friend Timbaland to form the duo Timbaland & Magoo. The pair’s debut album Welcome to Our World would go platinum and become a classic, ushering in a period of chart dominance for Timbaland’s signature sound.

Born Melvin Barcliff, in Norfolk, Virginia in July 1973, Magoo attended high school in Chesapeake. Contrary to popular thinking, his rap name was not taken from the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, but from the surname of an aunt who raised him, which he later shortened to Magoo.

While still in high school in the early 1990s, he would get his start in music and hip-hop via break dancing. He would co-found the group S.B.I., an acronym for Surrounded by Idiots, that was a Virginia Beach-based MCs that consisted of Magoo, Larry “Live” Lyons and a young Timothy Mosley (a.k.a. Timbaland although he was known as DJ Timmy Tim at this time) and Pharrell Williams. S.B.I. recorded a few demos and performed a few shows but didn’t release any major recordings and quickly disbanded.

After being noticed by Jodeci member and producer DeVante Swing, Magoo signed to Swing’s label Swing Mob and became a member of the creative collective dubbed the Da Basement Cru that included Missy Elliott and her group Sista, Timbaland, Ginuwine, Tweet and Playa. The collective recorded music and collaborated on Jodeci’s third album as well as their own projects. By 1995, the Swing Mob had folded with the members striking out on their own, but Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Tweet and Timbaland & Magoo continued to collaborate under a loose collective dubbed the Superfriends that also included up-and-coming R&B star Aaliyah.

Remarking on his long friendship with the group of young Virginia rappers and producers who would later come to dominate mainstream music and win multiple Grammys, Magoo told YouKnowIGotSoul in 2020, “I look back and think about it, who can say in their lifetime that they are friends with one of the greatest female artists of all the time in Missy Elliott, three of the greatest producers of all time with Pharrell, Chad and Timbaland and some of the greatest groups of all time like N.E.R.D. and Clipse?”

He added, “All of us rode in the same circle and we would see each other at different events and this was before the fame. We all ended up making it because we were serious.”

Magoo would make appearances on Ginuwine’s 1996 song “G Thang” from the album Ginuwine… the Bachelor and Missy Elliott’s 1997 song “Beep Me 911” from her debut album Supa Dupa Fly among other guest appearances before taking center stage with Timbaland & Magoo’s debut studio album Welcome to Our World, released in November 1997.

Welcome to Our World would become a crossover success, peaking at No. 33 on the Billboard 200 and achieving platinum status. The album featured the singles “Up Jumps da Boogie,” “Luv 2 Luv U” (which featured the memorable Magoo lyric “You so absurd I thought you heard/If you don’t know, the bird is the word/Yes the bird bird bird, the bird is the word/The bird bird bird, the bird is the word) and “Clock Strikes.” “Up Jumps da Boogie” was a major club hit and peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 100 and became a hip-hop classic. The album would be a showcase for Timbaland’s production sound that would find more mainstream success with albums from Ginuwine, Aaliyah and Missy Elliott.

As a rapper, Magoo was often compared to Q-Tip of Tribe Called Quest due to their similar-sounding voices. The comparison with Q-Tip frustrated Magoo, and he spoke about it in a 2020 interview, “I had comparisons with Q-Tip because of my voice, but people don’t get that this is just how I sound. I’ve always sounded like this even before I started rapping… I hate the Q-Tip comparisons because I’m a big Tribe Called Quest fan, but there was nothing I could do about my voice.”

In 2001, Timbaland & Magoo released Indecent Proposal, their second studio album. The follow-up wasn’t nearly as successful as the duo’s debut, although it peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard album chart, and the singles failed to chart on the Billboard 100. The pair released one further studio album, 2003’s Under Construction, Part II, that again failed to replicate their early success, peaking at No. 50 on the Billboard album chart. Although Under Construction did spawn the single “Cop That Shit” featuring Missy Elliott that was a radio hit.

Despite his success as a rapper, Magoo was never keen on fame and in later interviews often talked about he wasn’t able to enjoy much of the early success of Timbaland & Magoo. “I’m going to keep it real, I didn’t enjoy any of that. I never felt like me and Tim got a chance to enjoy our early years and it never even felt like we were this million-selling group,” he told YouKnowIGotSoul.

A deep thinker, Magoo’s dislike of fame and the non-studio aspects of being an artist pushed him away from rapping and after his record contract expired in 2010 he largely retired from music, making only sporadic appearances on songs by his friends Timbaland and Missy Elliott. “That’s why I walked away from it. The music business is a promise that can’t be kept and that’s fame. When I had a number one song, I realized I may have been better with my 9-5 before I left Virginia,” he told YouKnowIGotSoul. “It’s hard to be happy because you’re fighting for everything you earned and you just don’t have time to enjoy it with your family. You aren’t as close with friends anymore and people are treating you different once you have that hit record. I lived two different lives and being a celebrity wasn’t fun.”

After stepping away from being a performer, Magoo worked behind the scenes in the music industry.

By info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *