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Virginia rapper Magoo dies at age 50

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Sometimes talented people have a way of finding each other. Take the rap duo Timbaland and Magoo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UP JUMPS DA BOOGIE")

MAGOO: (Rapping) I fiend for all beats like girls jump for tricks.

SUMMERS: Their biggest single was "Up Jumps Da Boogie" in 1997, though their collaboration started long before that.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Melvin Barcliff, or Magoo, and Timothy Mosley, then known as DJ Timmy Tim, met in high school in the area near Virginia Beach, Va.

SUMMERS: Speaking of talent finding each other, as teenagers, their associates in the region included a young Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, soon to be known as the Neptunes, and the multitalented Missy Elliott.

CHANG: Eventually, Timbaland and Magoo found themselves trying to crack into music in New York City. Magoo says he helped convince his longtime friend to form a rap duo together.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAGOO: Tim wanted to be a producer. I talked him into being an artist not just as a friend, but I always thought Tim was different and special.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUV 2 LUV U")

TIMBALAND: (Rapping) Dance with me. Yeah. Tango with me.

SUMMERS: That's Magoo speaking to an oral historian for the William & Mary Digital Archive in 2013. Now, Timbaland, of course, went on to become a star producer in hip-hop, R&B and pop music. Magoo made a few more records with his friend but tired of the spotlight and stepped back from the music business.

CHANG: But in 2013, he said that starting from the moment he heard his first rap song at the age of 6 or 7, it would have his attention for the rest of his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAGOO: Rap is actually a communication just like the news in the newspaper, but it's more vivid and more raw and more direct and more true.

SUMMERS: Melvin "Magoo" Barcliff died last weekend, his family confirmed to The New York Times. On Instagram, Timbaland shared a tribute video and wrote, Tim and Magoo forever. Rest easy, my king. Like hip-hop itself, Magoo was 50 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUV 2 LUV U")

MAGOO: (Singing) Love to love to love you, love you, love you. Ooh. Love to love to love you, love you, love you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.