Magoo has died, Variety reports, citing the Virginia Chief Medical Examiner. A cause of death was not disclosed. The Virginia rapper, best known for his work with Timbaland in the rap duo Timbaland & Magoo, also collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, and Aaliyah during his career. He was 50 years old.
Since news of Magoo’s death first broke on Sunday (August 13), multiple artists and industry peers have shared tributes to him, including Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Digital Black of the rap group Playa, and more. Timbaland, on Instagram, wrote, “This one hits different 🥲🥲🥲 long live Melvin aka magoo !!!💔💔💔 Tim and Magoo forever 🕊️🕊️🕊️ rest easy my king ❤️❤️❤️.”
Born Melvin Barcliff in 1973, Magoo grew up around Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia. Despite the ostensible reference to the classic cartoon character, Magoo has said he chose his rap name to honor the aunt who raised him. He and Timbaland first connected as teenagers, making music in the group S.B.I. (Surrounded by Idiots) with Larry Live and a then-unknown Pharrell Williams before forming Timbaland & Magoo. Magoo was also a member of DeVante Swing’s Swing Mob collective.
After splitting off into a duo, Timbaland & Magoo released their debut album in 1997. Welcome to Our World, which featured contributions from Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, and more, was certified platinum the next year. Welcome to Our World also yielded the duo’s highest-charting career single, “Up Jumps da’ Boogie.”
Timbaland & Magoo would go on to release two more albums together: 2001’s Indecent Proposal and 2003’s Under Construction, Part II. Magoo did not release any solo albums after that. In 2021, Welcome to Our World became available on streaming for the first time after their label, Blackground Records, signed a distribution deal with Empire.
“We made fun records, but they weren’t corny. I don’t have any regrets,” Magoo told YouKnowIGotSoul.com of Timbaland & Magoo in a 2020 interview. “I didn’t get the street credibility that I got into hip hop for, but I felt if I could make people happy and have a good time, that was contributing to hip hop too but in a different way.”