Recording artist Timbaland performs at the 2022 Lovers & Friends music festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on May 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
Timbaland Looked to the “Oompa Loompa” Song to Produce Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody”
At the 2023 Pop Conference, producer and rapper Timbaland revisited his inspiration behind the 1998 Aaliyah single “Are You That Somebody.”
Timbaland gave fans insight about 1998 Aaliyah classic “Are You That Somebody” at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Record Music’s 2023 Pop Conference. Appearing virtually at the college event, Timbaland, legal name Timothy Mosley, explained how the 1971 musical film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory inspired the song, after production duo Take A Daytrip said that a scene from Shrek 2 partially inspired Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby.”
“I actually was trying to make the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory beat from the ‘Oompa Loompa’ song,” Mosley said, referring to the repetitive ‘Oompa Loompa’ melody that the diminutive characters sing throughout 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… I gotta thank Willy Wonka for that,” he added, per Pitchfork.
Co-written by Mosley and the late Static Major, “Are You That Somebody” appeared on the soundtrack for 1998 Eddie Murphy comedy Dr. Dolittle. Although Aaliyah initially wasn’t enthusiastic about the song, “Are You That Somebody” peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Rhythmic and U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts.
Elsewhere during the panel, Mosley explained the now-famous ‘baby effect’ heard on the song. “So I was going through my effects sounds, and I heard this baby,” he said. “Was it a baby, was it a chicken, there was a cow, there was Godzilla, this whole row. And this baby came across, and it was laughing, and that [one sound] wasn’t the whole thing. It was like [imitates four consecutive baby giggles]. 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!’”