Update: The official Epic Twitter account has messaged that this version of “XSCAPE” by Michael Jackson will not be featured on the upcoming May 13 XSCAPE album.
When Michael Jackson died in 2009, he left an enduring legacy and some unreleased tunes as well. On Wednesday (April 9), one of those unreleased gems, “XSCAPE,” found its way onto the Internet.
The upbeat pop track starts with a brief six-second skit, which is made to sound like someone (presumably Michael) has escaped from a prison. “He’s gone,” someone says before we hear an alarm go off and a gun cock back.
The track is the title song off of MJ’s upcoming posthumous album XSCAPE. Jackson wrote the song with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, who produced a chunk of the King of Pop’s last proper LP, Invincible, in 2001.
“XSCAPE” features many familiar MJ themes. The upbeat drum roll and static synth line give way to Jackson’s patented grunts, moans and signature wails. “Everywhere I turn, no matter where I look, the system’s in control, it’s all run by the book,” a distrustful Mike sings before coming to the conclusion: “I got to get away, so I can free my mind.”
For much of his career, MJ battled with the pressures of fame, often expressing feelings of being trapped. In the song’s second verse, he turns his attention towards his impossible love life. “I tried to share my life with someone I could love, but gaining money is all she ever thought of,” he sings.
Last month, Timbaland teased another XSCAPE track called “Slave to the Rhythm,” which had a drastically different feel thanks to Timbo’s striking violins and festive bells and whistles.
In addition to Jerkins and Timbaland, Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo are also expected to be part of the album, which drops on May 13.