Melvin “Magoo” Barcliff, best known for his contributions to hip-hop as one-half of Timbaland and Magoo, has died. The Virginia Chief Medical Examiner confirmed the news on Monday though the cause of death has not yet been revealed. He was 50 years old.
After meeting as teenagers in Norfolk, Virginia, Timbaland and Magoo established themselves as a musical duo in 1998. Timbaland had yet to release his own album and at the time, Magoo only had experience covering songs by Ralph Tresvant and New Edition in talent shows. After teaming up, the pair went on to release three full-length albums and were among the first artists to establish a hip-hop network in Virginia.
The East Coast state wasn’t known for hip-hop like New York or California was, but the influence of the genre steadily expanded there with contributions coming from Timbaland and Magoo, the Neptunes, Clipse and Missy Elliot, whom Magoo reportedly introduced to Timbaland.
In the early 90s, Timbaland and Magoo also made music under the moniker Surrounded by Idiots (SBI), which also boasted Pharrell Williams as a member, on numerous deep cuts that have since been heavily circulated online. After signing to Blackground Records, the American record label founded and owned by Jomo and Barry Hankerson (uncle of the late Aaliyah), Magoo and Timbaland produced their biggest commercially success single, 1997’s “Up Jumps Da Boogie,” which featured both Aaliyah and Elliot.
The track peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and appeared on the duo’s 1997 debut album, “Welcome to Our World,” which also boasted guest verses from Ginuwine. Three other Magoo and Timbaland tracks charted on the all-genre-encompassing chart including “Clock Strikes” (No. 37 in ’98), “Here We Come” (No. 92 in ’98), and “Cop That Shit” (No. 95 in 2003).
Magoo released two more albums with Timbaland after their debut, 2001’s “Indecent Proposal” and 2003’s “Under Construction, Part II.” Those records included features from Jay-Z, Beenie Man, Ludacris, Twista, Brandy, and Wyclef Jean.
While Timbaland continued with his solo career, becoming one of hip-hop’s most influential music producers, Magoo did not continue pursuing music. In an interview with Billboard, Magoo explained that he chose to not continue without his friend and collaborator: “I’ve never seriously thought about doing a solo album… I’ve thought about it in passing-like if Tim decided he wanted to stop rapping. It would be really difficult for me to think about doing a record without him. We’ve been together since 1990, so [being solo] would be weird. Tim and Magoo is more a friendship than it is a group.”
Timbaland posted about Magoo’s death on social media on Monday, writing, “This one hits different… long live Melvin aka magoo !!! Tim and Magoo forever… rest easy my king.” He shared videos, old photos and even an old verse of Williams from a Surrounded by Idiots 1991 demo tape. “Long live SBI,” he wrote in a caption.