Melvin “Magoo” Barcliff, best known for his contributions to hip-hop as one half of Timbaland and Magoo, has died. Virginia’s chief coroner confirmed the news Monday, but a cause of death has yet to be released. He was 50 years old.
After meeting as teenagers in Norfolk, Virginia, Timbaland and Magoo formed themselves as a musical duo in 1998. Timbaland had yet to release his own album, and at the time, Magoo had most of his experience covering songs by Ralph Tresvant and New edition in talent competitions. Working together, they released three full-length albums and were among the first artists to form a legendary hip-hop network in Virginia. His influence continued to grow, with contributions from the Neptunes, Clipse, and Missy Elliot, who (so the story goes) introduced Magoo to Timbaland.
In the early ’90s, Timbaland and Magoo also made music under the Surrounded by Idiots (SBI) moniker, which included Pharrell Williams. His verses have appeared in numerous deep cuts that have since spread widely on the Internet.
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After signing with Blackground Records, the American record label founded by Jomo and Barry Hankerson (Aaliyah’s late uncle), Magoo and Timbaland produced their biggest commercial success, the 1997 single “Up Jumps Da Boogie,” which featured Aaliyah and Elliott. .
The track reached No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and was featured on the duo’s 1997 debut album, “Welcome to Our World,” which also featured guest verses by Ginuwine. Three other tracks by Magoo and Timbaland made the all-genre chart: “Clock Strikes” (1998 No. 37), “Here We Come” (1998 No. 92) and “Cop That Shit” (2003 No. 95).
Magoo released two more albums with Timbaland after his debut, 2001’s “Indecent Proposal” and “Under Construction, Part II,” which included features from Jay-Z, Beenie Man, Ludacris, Twista, Brandy, and Wyclef Jean.
While Timbaland pursued his solo career, Magoo chose not to pursue music. In an interview with Billboard, Magoo explained that he decided not to continue without his friend and colleague: “I hadn’t really thought about doing a solo record…I had thought about it at the moment, because if Tim decided that he wants to stop rapping It would be very hard for me to think about making a record without him. We’ve been together since 1990, so [ser solista] it would be weird. Tim and Magoo are more of a friendship than a group.”
Timbaland echoed Magoo’s death on social media on Monday, writing: “This beat is different…Melvin aka magoo for a long time! Forever Tim and Magoo…may they rest in peace, King”. He shared videos, old photos and even an old Williams verse from a 1991 show Surrounded by Idiots. “Long live SBI,” he wrote in a caption.