Michael Jackson inspired a slew of singers to follow in his footsteps, but the Gloved One also left his indelible mark on a number of the music industry’s top producers as well.
Some of the biggest producers in urban music will remix MJ’s work for an upcoming Universal Motown project titled Michael Jackson: The Remix Suite. The 20-plus-song set will focus mainly on the Jackson 5 catalog of hits. A bundle of the songs were leaked last week, and Salaam Remi was among the first producers to rework the tunes with his reggae-flavored version of “ABC.”
“That song was one of the first songs I remember hearing on my own,” Remi told MTV News. “I think it came out around the time I was coming up as a kid. A remix … it isn’t just changing the music … to me it’s about reimagining the vibe. I wanted to do something that, when it pops up it makes you say, ’Wow.’ And to feel like it could be performed that way, not like it was just glued together.”
The sound for Remi’s take was stored in his laptop for years. The frequent Nas collaborator worked on a previous Motown remix project a few years ago and in the process he started thinking about the Jackson 5’s “ABC,” one of his favorite tracks. When Universal Motown head Sylvia Rhone called him for this project, the producer said he immediately knew what song he was going to rework.
Dallas Austin (“I Wanna Be Where You Are”) and the Neptunes (“Never Can Say Goodbye”) are among the other musicians to take on some of the late pop icon’s hits . Austin’s (TLC, Pink) take on the classic Jackson 5 tune is quirky, with loopy synths; while the Neptunes “Never Can Say Goodbye” features the duo’s space-age sound.
“This is my mom’s favorite record,” Pharrell ad-libs on the track. “I hope you don’t mind me doing this.”
New sets of remix suites will be released digitally in the coming weeks, according to the label. Producers such as Q-Tip, Ryan Leslie, Polow Da Don, Tricky Stewart and Stargate will each twist the studio knobs and rearrange some of Jackson’s finest hits. Eventually the full collection of suites will be released as a complete project on October 27.