How Legendary Music Producer Timbaland Beat Painkiller Abuse and Lost 130 Pounds

At the height of his career in the early 2000s, Timbaland, also known as Tim Mosley, was catapulting artists like Beyoncé, Jay- Z, Drake, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake to superstardom. By 2013, though, it was all trickling to a stop, brought to a screeching halt by his prescription drug addiction.

Music producer Timbaland
Music producer Timbaland | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Find out how Timbaland turned it all around and got back on track, plus what he’s up to now.

Timbaland’s early 2000s reign

Timbaland was considered a veritable music legend early in the 2000s. If you enjoy the music of the aforementioned Drake, Rihanna, plus Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott, Bryson Tiller, Tamela Mann, Ginuwine, Coldplay, Aaliyah, Pusha T, and Sam Smith, you can thank Timbaland for it. It seemed that every artist he put his golden touch to flew straight to the top of the charts.

Timbaland and Nelly Furtado
Timbaland and Nelly Furtado | Derek Storm/FilmMagic

Nelly Furtado reflected on the experience of working with Timbaland in 2005 in a conversation with The Fader eleven years later.

“I hadn’t seen Tim in five years, maybe, and I walk into The Hit Factory in Miami and him and I just had that same chemistry again. He was working with Danja Hands at the time, making some really cool stuff. The first beat we played was what would eventually become Maneater. We were playing the music so loud that the large speaker on top of the console started to smoke, and then a flame came out of the speaker. It was on fire!”

How Timbaland became addicted to painkillers

Timbaland, as so many others, got addicted to prescription drugs in 2011 after having them prescribed for a medical procedure, in his case a root canal. A gunshot injury from his teens at times flared up with pain, also causing him to turn to the drugs. He found himself taking them even after the pain had subsided and before he knew it, he was hooked.

“It put me in a great feeling of not caring, of just being free,” Timbaland told Men’s Health last week. “I’m like traveling, doing shows, popping ’em, having fun, just being ignorant.” 

In addition to his physical pain, the rapper was also going through a messy divorce and a prolonged scuffle with the IRS. It all came to a head at the same time, causing him to seek escape.

How he got free and changed for good

What finally got Timbaland to face reality? “I had a dream that death was near,” he said in his conversation with Men’s Health. “I saw myself with a white face.”

For his own sake and for that of his three children, he decided to start weaning himself off the pills that were holding him back. He decided to take care of the addiction on his own. He finished up the supply he had, every day having less and less, and sticking to his decision to not buy any more. Eventually, he experienced withdrawal.

Speaking about his frightening wake-up call dream, he told Rolling Stone in 2017, “All I can tell you is that there was a light. I woke up trying to catch my breath, like I was underwater. But through that whole thing, I saw life – I saw where I would be if I don’t change, and where I could be if I did. . . “

How Timbaland dropped 130 pounds

When he started his recovery, Timbaland weighed in at 350 pounds and was in constant pain from lack of exercise.

“When you get beat up the way I got beat up mentally, this ain’t hard,” the 47-year-old said.

He found a boxing studio and fell in love with it and with the break it gave him from withdrawals. Gradually, he lost over 100 pounds.

“He has a no-quit mentality,” Mosley’s trainer David Alexander told Men’s Health. “He understands that this is his new life. It’s not something that’s going to go away in three months. And he’s committed. Tim is one of the most mentally strong guys out there.”

It’s going to be amazing to see what Timbaland puts his hand to next.