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Magoo, a rapper and former Timbaland collaborator, dies at 50

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

This week, the rapper Melvin Barcliff, known to the hip-hop world as Magoo, died. He was best known as the partner of Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley, the accomplished hip-hop producer, and together they were known as the duo Timbaland and Magoo. And with hits like "Up Jumps Da Boogie," they created an inventive new sound that took hip-hop by storm back in the late '90s.

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

TIMBALAND AND MAGOO: (Rapping) I cut with razor blades, play spades with Aunt Venus. Evaluate this rap - take heed, a freaking genius.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Barcliff's rap name, Magoo, was inspired by the name of his Aunt Magdaline, who raised him. He was born in Norfolk, Va., and spent much of his childhood in Chesapeake. It was there as a high school student that he met Timbaland.

FADEL: The two shared a love of hip-hop and dreams of stardom. Their collaboration eventually led to the 1997 album, "Welcome To Our World." You can hear Timbaland's infectious beats and Magoo's playful lyricism in their song "Luv 2 Luv U."

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

TIMBALAND AND MAGOO: (Rapping) Me, Missy and Timbo rap in any tempo. Huckleberry Finn - Magoo, the South Pimple. Caught up in my lingo - B9, girl, I'm bingo. Help - I see a Beatle. Cool out, that's only Ringo.

MARTÍNEZ: In a 2013 interview for the College of William and Mary Hip-Hop Collection, Magoo explained that hip-hop is often misunderstood as being negative when lyrics open windows to harsh realities.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAGOO: Rap music was the first time I felt like, oh, they're talking about the stuff I know about. They're talking about the stuff that I see in my neighborhood.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COP THAT S***")

TIMBALAND AND MAGOO: (Rapping) I talk sense condensed in the form of a poem. If I wasn't writing rhymes, I'd be breaking in homes. I'm kind of young, so my gun's my security. I'm not afraid - do what you gon (ph) do to me.

FADEL: This year, we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop, and Magoo's life is a huge part of that legacy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAGOO: You cannot put a price on the significance of hip-hop music and how it changed culture.

MARTÍNEZ: Magoo died at the age of 50, the same age as the art form that he loved.

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

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

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