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Justin Timberlake To Play VMAs, Says Solo Debut Is 'Very Me'

When Justin Timberlake’s solo debut, Justified, drops November 12, it may bring an end to the days when he harmonized with his ‘NSYNC brethren on songs written by Swedish songwriting teams.

Although Timberlake isn’t permanently parting company with JC, Lance, Chris and Joey, his first crack at going it alone was nevertheless liberating. Free from his ties to Max Martin, Kristian Lundin and the like, whose songs dominated much of ‘NSYNC’s 1998 eponymous debut and 2000’s No Strings Attached, Timberlake co-wrote all of Justified, including the LP’s first single, “Like I Love You,” a track co-written and produced by the Neptunes that is beginning to surface at radio stations nationwide.

“I don’t want to say too much about it,” Timberlake said of the album. “I want people to get what they get from it. It’s definitely a new sound – not just from me, but period.”

While only hearing “Like I Love You,” which swaps ‘NSYNC’s upbeat pop trappings for a flow that’s a little more smoky, sultry and downright sexy, must be a long-awaited joy for fans of the ‘NSYNC maverick, seeing him do it live August 29 at the Video Music Awards will be twice as nice. The performance marks Timberlake’s first-ever live solo performance.

The video for “Like I Love You” is scheduled to premiere September 9, according to a Jive Records spokesperson.

Timberlake’s evolution from pop puppet to soul-baring songsmith has been a gradual one that began with No Strings Attached. Timberlake co-wrote just one tune on that album, “I’ll Be Good for You,” while groupmate JC Chasez assisted in the creation of three. It wasn’t until ‘NSYNC’s latest offering, Celebrity, that Timberlake revealed a glimpse of his potential, taking partial credit for penning seven songs, including the hit single “Pop,” and producing three.

By his own admission, Timberlake is content with the way tunes from his tablet sound, and he’s proud of the image he presents with Justified.

“I’m very happy with it,” he said. “It’s very me, and that’s all you can do as an artist is do what you think is an extension of you. You put down on paper or tape who you are. That’s what being an artist is all about. And when it gets done, you don’t look back at it and say, ‘Oh, I could have done that better.’ When Picasso looked at something, he didn’t go back and touch it up with a paintbrush.

“I think it’s cool. I hope everybody else does.”

While the Neptunes and Timbaland produced most of the album, Brian McKnight, Mario Winans and P. Diddy also lent a hand in producing some songs. Despite logging studio time with Timberlake earlier this year, R&B singer Angie Stone’s contributions won’t appear on the album, according to a Jive spokesperson. Other details concerning Justified remain undisclosed.

“Saturday Night Live” comedian Jimmy Fallon will host the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, which will be broadcast live from New York’s Radio City Music Hall at 8 p.m. ET/PT on August 29.

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