Michael Jackson’s Estate Announces New Album From the King of Pop
Michael Jackson is set to release a new album from beyond the grave. The posthumous record Xscape will be released on May 13, according to an announcement on Jackson’s official site, and it will consist of eight never-before-heard tracks that the King of Pop was working on before his death.
The album was put together by Epic Records executive L.A. Reid, who combed through Jackson’s catalog to find songs that were complete enough to be worked on by producers to create a final product. The record is being released by Epic in cooperation with the Jackson estate and will feature eight new songs. Xscape will be available for preorder starting Tuesday.
Jackson’s estate gave Reid total access to the singer’s 40 years’ worth of material to which he had completed vocals. After finding the eight songs, Reid sought out famed pop and rap producer Timbaland to be the record’s head producer and lead the efforts to “contemporize” the songs for modern audiences while retaining the King of Pop’s original spirit. Producers Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, Jerome Hermon, and John McClain also lent their efforts to the project. A delux version of the album will also be released containing the original tracks, untampered with by the modernizing effort.
“Modern music and artistry would look and sound completely different if not for the groundbreaking contributions Michael Jackson gifted to the world,” said Reid in the announcement. “Michael left behind some musical performances that we take great pride in presenting through the vision of music producers that he either worked directly with or expressed strong desire to work with. We are extremely proud and honored to present this music to the world.”
The album is titled in the Jackson tradition of using one-word, edgy song titles. The song “Xscape” was written and produced by Jackson and Rodney Jerkins before Jackson’s death and was “contemporized” by Jerkins, the only track that has the benefit of being produced by someone who actually worked with Jackson on the material.
While some fans may be wary of this modernizing process, the project has the full blessing of the Jackson estate. “Michael was always on the cutting edge and was constantly reaching out to new producers, looking for new sounds. He was always relevant and current. These tracks, in many ways, capture that spirit. We thank L.A. Reid for his vision,” said estate co-executors John Branca and McClain.
Sony is releasing the album in conjunction with Epic. In 2010, Sony signed a $250 million, 10-project, seven-year deal with the Jackson estate that is one of the most lucrative in music industry history. The current Cirque du Soleil shows featuring Jackson music — one is a touring act and one is based in Las Vegas — are also a part of the massive deal. Sony is promising to launch an “unprecedented global campaign” to promote the record.
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