Music producer and rapper Timbaland has apologised for suggesting Justin Timberlake should “put a muzzle” on Britney Spears.
Timbaland, 51, was being interviewed at an event in front of a live audience at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC on 29 October when he made the comments.
An audience member asked about the renewed interest in Timberlake’s 2002 song Cry Me A River – co-written and produced by Timbaland – which is believed to have been inspired by the former NSYNC star’s break-up with Spears.
In her new autobiography, Spears wrote that she had an abortion during her relationship with Timberlake, that she and Timberlake had cheated on each other, and that the music video for Cry Me A River – which features a Britney look-a-like going off with another man – made her out to be a “harlot who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy”.
In a video of the incident that circulated on social media, Timbaland replied to the question: “She going crazy, right?
“I wanted to call and say, ‘JT, man, you gotta put a muzzle on that girl’.”
The audience appeared to laugh at Timbaland but the clip sparked outrage online.
He eventually apologised in a TikTok live video on Tuesday night.
“I apologise 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.”
Spears revealed in her autobiography Woman In Me that she had an abortion during her three-year relationship with Timberlake.
“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.”
Spears, 41, was subject to a controversial 13-year legal conservatorship until 2021.
Timbaland is one of the most high-profile producers in R&B and hip hop, and has worked with Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Jay-Z and Lil Kim.
He also scored chart hits as an artist with songs including The Way I Are, Give It To Me, Apologise and Morning After Dark.