Timbaland apologises to Britney Spears after claiming Justin Timberlake should ‘muzzle’ singer

Timbaland has apologised to Britney Spears‘s fans “and her” after the music producer was criticised for “gross” comments about “muzzling” the singer following the release of her bombshell memoir.

Spears published The Woman in Me last month, with the “Baby…One More Time” singer writing candidly about her stratospheric rise to pop superstardom, the controversial 13-year conservatorship that controlled her life, becoming a mother, and high-profile romances – including a three-year relationship with Justin Timberlake.

In the memoir, which sold more than a million copies in its first week, Spears revealed she had an abortion because “Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy”.

She also admitted Timberlake’s 2002 music video for “Cry Me a River” portrayed her as a “harlot” in the aftermath of their breakup amid speculation she had cheated on the singer.

On 29 October, Timbaland, 51, was addressing an event at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, when he was asked about Spears’s memoir – and renewed interest in his and Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” collaboration,

“She’s going crazy, right? I wanted to call and say, ‘JT, man, you gotta put a muzzle on that girl,” he replied.

He also reportedly suggested the Grammy winner wrote the memoir “to go viral” because “that’s the way you make money”, adding: “I gotta do something that gets people’s attention.”

Before long, the clip began circulating online, prompting swift backlash from Spears’s fans – collectively known as the Brit Army.

Several people called Timbaland out for his “insane” remarks, especially “considering Britney has been treated like a caged animal for the past 13 years” – referring to the conservatorship that stripped Spears of control over her personal and professional life for over a decade.

Following the intense criticism, Timbaland issued a brief apology “to the Britney fans and her” during a livestream on TikTok on Tuesday (7 November).

“Yes, you know, about respecting women: ‘Hell yeah’,” Timbaland said.

However, the apology was met with further criticism after some fans noted it didn’t feel “sincere” or “genuine”.

One person tweeted: “His apology aint genuine he just doesnt wanna put up with the backlash.”

First love: Spears writes approvingly of her ex Justin Timberlake, pictured together in 2002 (Getty Images)
First love: Spears writes approvingly of her ex Justin Timberlake, pictured together in 2002 (Getty Images)

“Dear Timbaland I speak for all the Britney Army when I say ‘it’s too late to apologise’,” another comment read, quoting a line from his 2007 collaboration with American pop band OneRepublic titled “Apologise”.

A third person wrote: “This [is] like when you get in trouble as a kid and your parent forces you to apologize so you say “I’m sorry” with an attitude and don’t mean it at all but think it’s enough to get you off the hook.”

Several people suggested it was “disrespectful” of Timbaland to apologise to Spears’s fans before the singer, and that he was only expressing regret over his statement for fear of “being cancelled” online.

Amid heightened scrutiny over claims about him in The Woman in Me, Timberlake, 42, appeared to turn off his Instagram comments, with the NSYNC frontman’s bandmate Lance Bass urging fans to “take a note” from Spears and forgive him.

Timberlake and Spears dated from 1999 until 2002, after they were cast in the All-New Mickey Mouse Club. He released “Cry Me a River” the same year they split up, with the song’s music video – which featured a blonde woman – sparking the infidelity rumours.

In her memoir, Spearrs confirmed these rumours, explaining she had kissed her choreographer Wade Robson, but that Timberlake had been unfaithful to her first.

She also claimed that Timberlake ended their relationship with a text message, writing that it left her “devastated” and “comatose”.