The archive vault of the late King of Pop Michael Jackson will finally be opened almost five years since he passed away with the post-humous May 13th release of Xscape. L.A. Reid, the CEO and chairman of Epic Records, serves as executive producer on the album, along with a team of co-producers in Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, John McClain and Jerome “Jroc” Harmon.
The team of producers was brought on to give a current sound to the LP. The goal is to “contemporize” Xscape, as Reid called it, while staying true to the creative vision of Jackson based on what they believe.
The title Xscape comes from a track that was recorded by Jackson with Jerkins in the midst of the sessions for Invincible, the singers last album in 2001. It will be the only song on the album that will be made current by a producer involved in the original process of the song with Jackson.
In a news release Reid said all the producers involved with Michael Jackson’s post-humous album, releasing this May, either had directly worked with him in the past or are someone who Jackson desired to work with but never got the chance.
Some of the intriguing names on the list of producers is the aforementioned Jerkins who was, among various works, involved with producing Lady Gaga’s Telephone, along with Justin Bieber’s hit, As Long As You Love Me, and also Just Can’t Get Enough by the Black Eyed Peas. Jerkins came onto the scene in the 90s producing various tracks for Brandy and other R&B artists.
Another producer who came unto the R&B scene in the 90s is Timbaland known for his signature human beat boxing beats. The producer was most famous back then for working with Aaliyah, the very angelic “princess of R&B” as she was dubbed. After Aaliyah passed away in a tragic August 2001 plane accident, Timbaland kept his sound relevant throughout the 2000s lending his producing to such albums as FutureSex/LoveSound, Justin Timberlake’s 2006 multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning LP.
The news of Timbaland working on the Michael Jackson album first broke out in August 2013. The producer revealed he had spoken to L.A. Reid and he promised “something big.” He said the title track would be called Chicago. Timbaland described this as “his time” and how working with L.A. Reid would be like “two kings working together.” A promo video was also released last year seen below.
Timbaland has been critical in the past about reanimating the dead, though granted it was more personal. In July last year the producer expressed his disapproval of Drake and Chris Brown using Aaliyah’s vocals in their tracks respectably titled Enough Said and Don’t Think They Know . Timbaland said the music of Aaliyah only works with its “soulmate,” himself, who was not only her producer, but her mentor and long-time friend.
Chicago and Xscape will be two of eight songs featured on the posthumous album – all will be heard for the first time having never been released during the legendary singer’s prolific career. The fact that Jackson’s sound will be “contemporized” is foreboding and would make some fans wary. However, the combined bodies of work by the producers involved in the album does offer a glimmer of hope that these unreleased Michael Jackson songs could be done justice. Xscape will be released May 13, 2014.
By Kollin Lore