So far, Justin Timberlake’s upcoming Man Of The Woods album has been a surprising departure from expectations. When the outdoorsy trailer first dropped, many expected a folksy, perhaps country-inspired turn for the dance-pop legend from Memphis — especially due to the news that country stars like Chris Stapleton would be appearing on it as well. However, the video for the first single, “Filthy,” derailed that conjecture with its futuristic robo-funk
The latest preview of the album’s sound may explode those previous expectations entirely. Timberlake played a few songs during a recent trip to New York’s 1Oak nightclub and (of course) clips have leaked online courtesy of partygoers’ cell phone videos posted to Snapchat and other social media. Much like “Filthy,” the clips that have surfaced online seem intent on subverting the rustic aesthetic of the trailer in favor of more hip-hop-flavored, pop and dance-friendly tracks in line with much of Timberlake’s prior output.
With production still being handled by longtime collaborators Pharrell, Timbaland, and Danjahandz, it’s a wonder that fans are feeling the fake-out, though. While each has definitely shown themselves willing to experiment, they all have established, singular sounds and Justin probably wouldn’t go to them if he wanted a more acoustic, twangy approach. The real question may end up being, “What does a Chris Stapleton hip-hop song sound like?” We’ll have to wait until February 2nd to find out, but the previews below just might make the wait a bit more bearable.