New Michael Jackson Album On The Way, But Will It Hurt His Legacy?

Who’s ready to hear new Michael Jackson songs from beyond the grave?

Well, they’re coming whether you like it or not. From Billboard.com:

Epic Records and Michael Jackson’s estate have announced they’ll release “Xscape,” an 8-song collection of previously unreleased tracks from the late King of Pop, on May 13.

“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,” L.A. Reid said in a statement on Monday. “We are extremely proud and honored to present this music to the world.”

Xscape, huh? Kandi Burruss, Tiny n’ dem aren’t gonna like that.

The new album will feature vocals already recorded by MJ and will be “contemporized” (i.e., replacing outdated 2008 beats with 2014 production) by producers like Timbaland, Stargate, Rodney Jerkins and others.

This might sound like a treat for MJ fans, but color me skeptical. I’m not a fan of resurrecting a deceased artist’s unfinished work.

We’ve witnessed this time and again and, more often than not, an artist’s legacy is raked through the mud to line a record label’s already-heaving pockets. Don’t confuse me, I have no problem with releasing material an artist has already completed and signed off on – like BIG’s Life After Death album. And sure, sometimes those once-shelved tracks wind up being pretty good, like Aaliyah’s “Miss You” and “Come Over.”

But more often than not, shoehorning years-old vocals into “updated” production just sounds awkward. Need a reminder? ¬†Listen to any of the 37 albums released after Pac’s death. It’s like bad karaoke sometimes.

Besides, I feel all artists should have the final say in what they release to the public. Just because they recorded something doesn’t mean it’s meant for the world to hear. I write plenty of rough drafts before blessin’ y’all with a finished copy of my columns. Artists should be awarded that same luxury.

And, in my opinion, if those artists aren’t around to sign off on this unreleased music, it shouldn’t be released. Simple as that.

We know Michael has been gone for a long time but let’s be real: It’s his face that’s stamped on this album so if it fails, it’s his legacy that takes the hit, not the label’s. That man has suffered enough, leave his legacy alone.

Who knows, maybe this new MJ album will be good. Of course it won’t be Thriller good – nothing ever will be – but Timbaland and company could make magic. We’ll see. But I’m not holding my breath.

Artists should be given the opportunity to release what they consider the cream of their recording crop. How can they do that if they’re not around anymore?

I’m sure L.A. Reid ain’t worried, he’s putting a down payment on his new plane as we speak.

What do you think? Do fans deserve to hear posthumous material or should unreleased songs be shelved forever? Speak out in the comments.

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