MJ The Weekly Read

In a combination of greed and not knowing when to leave well enough alone, Epic Records has announced that they will soon release a new Michael Jackson album entitled Xscape. You would think that a record label owned by Sony would know damn well to not release anything called Xscape that didn’t include Kandi, Tiny, LaTocha, and Tamika, but I guess they’re point of view is, “Screw it. Kandi ain’t trying to sing with Tamika ever again. Might as well give to MJ.” Fair enough, but do you really think a perfectionist like Michael Jackson would want people toying with the vocals he left by the wayside over the years?

The label sure thinks so per the announcement posted on Epic’s Web site. It appears that Epic CEO L.A. Reid “was granted unlimited access to the treasures spanning four decades of material on which Jackson had completed his vocals. Reid then teamed up top producers to ‘contemporize’ the songs while retaining Jackson’s essence and integrity, creating the best music you’ve never heard.”

The list of producers include Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate and Michael Jackson estate executor, John McClain. Since the announcement, there’s been word that D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige will appear on the album. You can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes at the same speed of Naomi Campbell moved her hips in the “In The Closet” video.

I love Mary J. Blige like our cousins love dark meat and the new Popeye’s Pay Day special, but I just can’t see those two on the same track. Ditto for D’Angelo, who seems to be able to sing with the dead but refuses to give his fans a new damn album after a 100 years of, “Baby, wait on me. I’m coming. I promise.” Yeah, I’m bitter.

In any event, while I admit to being somewhat curious of how these songs will sound, do we not remember the ruckus that happened with that other posthumous Michael Jackson release? La Toya Jackson along with a few of her nephews all disputed with the label over the authenticity of the vocals featured on Michael.

Even so, no matter who is singing these unearthed songs, it’s pretty apparent why they were buried in the vault with the rest of MJ’s things (shiny gloves, monkey food and tuxedos, etc.): they are terrible. Like, Michael Jackson’s first three albums are the finest of meats while these “new” old tracks are along the lines of the mystery meat you order at the take out place you always question of being one food inspection away from permanent shut down. Do not treat the King of Pop like he’s Terence Trent D'Arby.

Michael, like many of his peers, went through an exhaustive recording process that yielded a lot of misses until he created the true gems. The released material was what Michael wanted us to hear. That ought to be respected.

See, “Remember The Time.” Wait, y’all got the urge to drop down and get your shamon on, huh? Fine, go on, get your dance on. This copy will be here when you get back.

Ready? Okay. As I was saying, Michael agonized over his work so I highly doubt he’s keen on the idea of a bunch of people he isn’t able to supervise and collaborate with taking his vocals and “contemperizing” them. That’s not to say he probably wouldn’t want to work with Future, Sage The Gemini, or Rihanna, if he were alive, but he ain’t. He’s dead and I know as I went to the funeral and prayed for Mariah Carey after her not fantastic performance (love you, MIMI!).

The problem with posthumous releases is that they don’t often honor the person we left behind -- you know, trying to “contemporize” them and all. It would be different if Quincy Jones was at least a part of this project, but as I’ve read on Al Gore’s Internet, the estate owes him money. This just seems like a bad idea is all.

I can’t help but think that somewhere, 2Pac is serving Michael Jackson KFC, Pepsi, and hair grease as he tries to explain to him just how bad his legacy is about to be screwed over thanks to his label’s plans for posthumous releases. Lord knows all 8000 of 2Pac’s post dead albums haven’t been hitting on nothing. Sure, they made money, but the fans are still singing “Dear Mama,” “I Get Around,” and “Rather Be Ya N***a” when it gets down to it.

In sum, this is stupid and y’all need to be spending these resources on rescuing Janet Jackson from obscurity. Buy her a new knee, some Pharrell and Detail beats, and get mama back on top of the charts. Michael would want that instead of y’all dropping duds he left in his audible trashcan.


Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where tough love is served with just a touch of shade. Tweet him at @youngsinick.