It looks like the worst-kept secret in music is finally officially out: Justin Timberlake has plans to release his long-awaited, still untitled third album, the first since 2006's well-remembered FutureSex/LoveSounds. While he hasn't outright said those exact words, this morning his website posted a YouTube clip called, "I'm Ready," in which the former 'NSYNC star and recent Myspace reviver takes a minute-long walk before winding up in the vocal booth at a studio. He narrates along the way, dramatically laying out his struggle as a recording artist before we join the real Justin who says to his off-camera producer (Timbaland, it's rumored), "I'm ready."
Timberlake sent out an enigmatic Tweet yesterday now revealed to be the release date and time of today's clip, directed by John Urbano (One Direction, Lissie, Alexi Murdoch). After the video plays, the musician's website reveals a countdown, which, at press time, read 03:11:25:13. It's quite possible that JT intends to release an actual piece of music when that clock runs out on Sunday night. Here's the fully transcribed text from the new video:
"Someone asked me the other day, 'So are you just, are you just done with music?' It means more to me than to anybody else in the world. Look, I've only done two albums in 10 years. That's the way I really look at it. What does the next decade mean for me? I'm the one who sits and is obsessive about it before you even get to hear it. As close as I get to it, I don't know that I can physically torture myself that much year in and year out and expect it to fulfill me the way that it does and the way that it is right now. I don't wanna put anything out that I feel like is ... something I don't love. You just don't get that every day. You have to wait for it."
Citing anonymous sources, the Hollywood Reporter has predicted an album-length collaboration with FutureSex producer and Justified collaborator Timbaland, and claim that the pair already has roughly 20 new tracks recorded. Billboard followed up earlier today with confirmation from someone "familiar with the project" that dude would "definitely" be bringing sexy back "sooner than later," and that he's "been quietly and methodically preparing to release an album with almost no warning." Hm, where have we seen that before?
Hip-Hop Wired originally reported (via Florida's Radio Now 97.9) that Timberlake's newest single would hit the airwaves on Monday, January 14, but MissInfo countered that the unidentified song would premiere on Clear Channel radio stations worldwide at noon EST today (which turned out to be the release of the "I'm Ready" clip). Both sites agreed, however, that the track is supposed to feature a guest spot from Jay-Z.
In 2011, Timberlake discussed a missed opportunity to team with Hova, telling Vanity Fair, "Look, Jay-Z has put out 11 albums, and I was talking about doing a collaboration with him, and he said, 'I can't do it right now, but I'll get you on the next album.' ... I was like, ‘No, man, I don't work like that ... I won't be putting an album out next year; these aren't a dime a dozen to me.'" Complex speculated that Beyoncé would also appear on the song, following a since-deleted tweet from music producer Carl Paul that read, "JUS MADE A MOVIE WIT THE LEGEND TIMBALAND GOT SUM HEAT COMIN SOON BEYONCÈ, JAY-Z, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE IM WORKIN." This follows Vibe's reports that JT and the Super Bowl-bound Bey were working in the studio together.