Magoo, who along with rapper/producer Timbaland was behind the late ‘90s hit “Up Jumps Da Boogie,” has died at age 50. News of the artist’s death was initially posted by artist Digital Black, a member of the 1990s R&B/hip-hop group Playa, on his Instagram page.
Magoo’s cause of death has not been revealed.
Born Melvin Barcliff, Magoo and fellow Norfolk native Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley met as teenagers before joining forces as a duo. The pair’s debut album, Welcome to Our World, was released by Barry Hankerson’s Blackground Records in 1997, peaking at No. 33 on the Billboard 200 and No. 9 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The set spun off the gold-certified single “Up Jumps Da Boogie,” which sat atop the Hot Rap Songs chart for eight weeks and peaked at No. 4 and No. 12 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Billboard Hot 100, respectively. Boasting guest appearances by Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and Playa, among others, the platinum-certified Welcome to Our World also rolled out a second top 10 single with “Clock Strikes” (No. 8 on Hot Rap Songs).
Timbaland & Magoo released two more albums as a group, 2001’s Indecent Proposal and 2003’s Under Construction, Part II. Indecent Proposal clocked in at No. 3 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 29 on the Billboard 200. Under Construction, Part II reached No. 16 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums; No. 50 on Billboard 200. In summer 2021, Blackground Records signed a distribution deal with Empire under which albums in Blackground’s catalog would become available to streaming services for the first time. In addition to Timbaland & Magoo, that rollout included Aaliyah’s recordings. While Timbaland gained additional fame as a solo artist, Magoo opted not to take that route. When Billboard interviewed Timbaland and Magoo in 2001 ahead of Indecent Proposal’s arrival, Magoo had this to say about whether he would put out a solo project: “I’ve never seriously thought about doing a solo album. I’ve thought about it in passing — like if Tim decided he wanted to stop rapping. It would be really difficult for me to think about doing a record without him. We’ve been together since 1990, so [being solo] would be weird. Tim and Magoo is more a friendship than it is a group.”
Among artists and collaborators paying tribute to Magoo via Instagram were Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Ginuwine. Timbaland said in part, “This one hits different long live Melvin aka magoo!!! Tim and Magoo forever; rest easy my king.”