The news of the day has been inundated by the exploits of Donald Sterling and the Solange Knowles/Jay Z elevator showdown. All elements of social media have been rife with commentary about these matters. But buried under all of this – literally and figuratively – is the release of Michael Jackson’s album Xscape.
Remember? Dropping May 13, it’s the second project of new posthumous material that was released by the Jackson estate in conjunction with Sony Music Entertainment since Mike’s death in June 2009.
Executive produced by Epic Records chairman, L.A. Reid, Xscape includes tracks from Rodney Jerkins, Stargate and J-roc with original and reworked tracks. The lead single, "Love Never Felt So Good,” was originally recorded in 1983 with songwriter Paul Anka.
Seeing all the superstar names on this offering, as well as the avalanche of positive reviews that the set has garnered, one would think there would be more stories heralding the return of that signature MJ style. But no. Not enough drama perhaps. Not enough scandal, fighting, and foot-in-mouth comments for the reality addicted, salacious loving folks of today.
Perhaps if MJ was alive this album would be a big deal. His infamy and drama helped put him in the grave. Issues surrounding alleged drug addiction and charges of alleged sex abuse surrounding young boys at his former residence at Neverland ranch would be perfect for today’s media. But now? We have forgotten about Michael Jackson.
Remember when the release of a Michael album was something of a national holiday?
For Thriller and Bad, lines were virtually wrapped around the block at your local record shop as fans clamored to be among the first on their block to be bumping the Smooth Criminal’s signature sounds. On a contemporary musical landscape where originality is no longer seen as a necessity, it seems like the general public’s taste for well-crafted, well-written pop music has become diluted.
Obviously musical reeducation is in order. Have we forgot about Off the Wall (1979) moving 20 million units worldwide? Or Thriller (1982) shipping 65 million units? Bad (1987) moved 30 million worldwide. Dangerous (1991) sold 30 million globally. History: Past, Present and Future (1995) shipped 20 million. Invincible (2001) sold 13 million worldwide. And that’s not even counting all the gold and platinum compilations he was tied to throughout his storied career.
Y’all had better stop playing and give Michael Jackson his props. At least a man who is intimately aware of Michael’s status as a once in a lifetime icon, Epic Records chairman L.A. Reid, knows. "If he recorded it over and over, then I knew that he loved it," Reid said in an interview with NBC Today. "I worked with Michael, and I knew that he wouldn't record it unless he really loved it."
In a separate interview, Timbaland explained that he tried to channel Jackson when approaching the tracks. "I couldn't touch (the music) right away," he said. "I had to let him speak through me, to guide me. … It felt like he was kind of directing the ship, so it wasn't me battling him."
There are eight songs on the regular album version of Xscape and a deluxe edition will feature nine more tracks as well. The vocals were recorded by Mike years before his death. But the contemporary styling administered by a formidable core of producers pushes it over the top and makes relevant to modern music lovers and fans of that funky sound of yester-year as well.
Let’s not forget the King, known for music that eased minds and soothed souls in a way that is so needed today among the fist-fighting, angry, social median driven glorified antics of today.