A new Michael Jackson album, featuring eight brand new tracks from the King Of Pop’s archive, will drop this May, nearly five years after the pop star’s death. The tracklist for Xscape was compiled by Epic Records chairman LA Reid who trawled through four decades of Jackson’s demos and off-cuts and then handed them over to a bevy of legendary producers to give them an up-to-date sound.
All eight songs had already completed vocals, but were in various stages of production, before Reid handed them over to the likes of Timbaland (listed as the lead producer), Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, Jerome Harmon (known as J-Roc) and John McClain, who actually is one of the executors of Jackson’s estate. Reid called the process of reworking the songs “contemporizing”.
“Modern music and artistry would look and sound completely different if not for the groundbreaking contributions Michael Jackson gifted to the world,” Mr. Reid said in a statement. “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.”
The label said the album would be released in a standard edition, with the completed versions of the eight songs, and a deluxe edition, which would also have the songs in their original form. At least one of those original tracks is a stripped-down version with Jackson singing only to a piano accompaniment.
The album’s title comes from a song Jackson recorded with Rodney Jerkins during the sessions for his 2001 album Invincible. It’s the only song on the forthcoming album that has been “contemporized’ by the same producer who originally recorded it with the singer.
One previous album of unreleased Michael Jackson material, titled Michael, was issued in 2010. It included the track Hold My Hand, a duet with Akon which was almost complete at the time of Jackson’s death, and a cover of Japanese electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s Behind the Mask, which dated from the 1980s.
“Michael was always on the cutting edge and was constantly reaching out to new producers, looking for new sounds,” said John Branca and John McClain, both co-executors of Jackson’s estate. “He was always relevant and current. These tracks, in many ways, capture that spirit. We thank LA Reid for his vision.”