Michael Jackson’s XSCAPE Was ‘Very Trying’ For Timbaland

Producer talks to MTV News why working on the King of Pop's latest was so 'emotional.'

Sure, serving as an executive producer on the new Michael Jackson album, XSCAPE, was an honor for Timbaland — but it also came with its baggage.

“This was very trying, not because it was just a Michael Jackson [album],” Timbaland said in an interview with MTV News on Tuesday (May 13). “It’s just me still dealing with some feelings of Aaliyah; because it’s still a death. I got Aaliyah, and I got Static [Major], and it makes you think like, ‘Who next?’ You start thinking crazy thoughts. And you just start to thank God for where you at in life.”

The feelings were so overwhelming, in fact, that there was even a time when Timbo had to remind himself that he was engaged in what is surely a dream for many producers: Working on an album of previously unreleased material from the King of Pop.

“I forgot about Michael for a moment,” the Virginia native admitted. “And then when I kept hearing his voice, it was like, I’m doing Michael Jackson. It got emotional. I had to tell my engineer to stop — we gotta go to something else. It took about a week process to really grasp what I’m doing. And once I grasped what I’m doing, I had to call my mom for prayer like, I need some help, I need some guidance on this, ’cause this is hard.”

Despite the difficulties, though, Tim did feel that his work on the record allowed him to sort through some personal issues — both related to the passing of Aaliyah and otherwise.

“It really helped me deal with a lot of thoughts that always been in the back of my mind,” he said. “I dealt with ‘em, and I still deal with ‘em. It’s something you’ll never get over, because you be like, These guys are so young. Is this right, or is it wrong? But God knows every part of this earth, and what we supposed to be doing. So, I don’t question that. But yeah it helped me answer a lot of my own questions that I might have had.”

XSCAPE is available now.