20 years ago, Justin Timberlake proved he was ‘Justified’ in going solo

Justin Timberlake is such a huge star today that it’s hard to believe that 20 years ago, there was some doubt as to whether or not he, a member of one of the best-selling boy bands of all time, could launch a legitimate solo career.  But when his first album Justified arrived on November 5, 2002, the haters were quickly silenced, as Justin emerged as a pop/R&B king for the new millennium.

Recorded in just six weeks while *NSYNC was on hiatus, Justified featured JT collaborating with The Neptunes, Timbaland, The Underdogs and Scott Scorch. Together, they crafted an album that was heavily influenced by Michael Jackson; in fact, some critics described it as the album that Jackson himself should have released, rather than his final album, Invincible.

Justified debuted at number two on the Billboard album chart, and spun off the hits “Like I Love You,” “Cry Me a River,” “Rock Your Body” and “Señorita.” It won Justin numerous awards, including two Grammys, and went on to sell 10 million copies worldwide. Among the artists who’ve cited it as an influence: Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes and One Direction‘s Liam Payne.

Following the success of Justified, *NSYNC’s hiatus, which was supposed to be temporary, became permanent: They never recorded together again. In 2004, Justin told the rest of the group he was leaving. and in 2006, he released the album that made him the global superstar he is today: FutureSex/LoveSounds.

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