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Timbaland apologizes for suggesting Justin Timberlake should’ve ‘put a muzzle’ on Britney Spears

A viral clip of the producer’s comments in response to Spears’ new memoir drew mass criticism online.
Timbaland performs at the 2019 Essence Festival in New Orleans on July 7, 2019.
Timbaland performs at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on July 7, 2019.Amy Harris / AP

Timbaland apologized on Tuesday after a video surfaced of a joke he made during a live interview last month in which he said Justin Timberlake should have silenced Britney Spears with a “muzzle.”

The video, which went viral after it was posted by the celebrity news aggregator account Pop Base, was captured at an Oct. 29 event at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., titled “Sound Architects: A Producer Conversation with Timbaland.”

In the clip, a person addressing Timbaland is heard saying Timberlake’s single “Cry Me a River” — which Timbaland co-wrote and co-produced — reappeared in headlines after Spears’ vulnerable revelations about her relationship with Timberlake appeared in her memoir, “The Woman in Me.”

“She going crazy, right?” Timbaland responded, according to video of the event. “I wanted to call and say, ‘JT, man, you gotta put a muzzle on that girl.’” 

People in the audience appear to laugh at the remark in the video. But online, the clip sparked outrage after it began circulating, with thousands calling out Timbaland’s comments for being misogynistic or in poor taste.

Timbaland went live on TikTok, where he has 1 million followers, to address the comment. The clip of his apology was reposted to X.

“I apologize to the Britney fans and her,” he said, reading a comment asking about his attitude towards women. “Yes, ‘you know about respecting women?’ Hell yeah.”

Timbaland’s manager declined to comment Tuesday before the producer issued his apology. Representatives for Spears and Timberlake did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

“Timbaland saying that Justin Timberlake should have put a ‘muzzle’ on Britney is actually INSANE considering Britney has been treated like a caged animal for the past 13 years,” a fan account for Spears wrote on X.

In her memoir, Spears wrote about her high-profile three-year relationship with Timberlake, revealing that she had an abortion after an accidental pregnancy to which the pair had conflicting reactions.

“If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it,” she wrote. “And yet Justin was so sure that he didn’t want to be a father.”

Timberlake, the NSYNC singer, also faced recent scrutiny after an audio clip of Michelle Williams imitating his “Blaccent,” also part of Spears’ memoir, went viral for its hilarity.

An X user posted in response to the clip of Timbaland’s comments, “The most interesting thing is watching all the fellas in and adjacent to that memoir never call Britney a liar, just say she shouldn’t have said it.” 

The video also circulated on Instagram, where a viral post by the celebrity news account The Shade Room amassed thousands of comments criticizing Timbaland.

“A MUZZLE!? on a woman who is speaking her truth and after being traumatized her whole life?” a user replied. “I’m genuinely shocked and disappointed timbaland said this.”

“Sorry but this is such a disgusting insensitive thing to say,” another wrote.

Many online began drawing attention to Spears’ having declined Timbaland’s offer to collaborate alongside Timberlake on her fifth studio album, “Blackout.” Spears chose to work with his protégé, Danja, instead.