By Vanessa Denis, with additional reporting by Shaheem Reid, Sway Calloway and Jayson Rodriguez
As you’ve no doubt heard, the first posthumous album from Michael Jackson, Michael, will debut on December 14. In 2009, when the King of Pop passed away an array of MCs and hip-hop glitterati, including Lil Wayne, weighed in on music’s great loss. Most recently, Kanye West gave Jackson a nod in his short film “Runaway,” and explained the symbolism to MTV News’ Sway during a live Q&A session on October 23.
“The hood, what it does represent to me … in relation to the Michael Jackson thing is not the KKK but the concept of cult, because it’s multiple people with this hood on,” West explained. “It’s me taking [the phoenix] to my world and saying, ’Let me show you what my world is about.’ ”
West said he invoked the image of the late icon, whose expansive cultural reach was unparalleled, to demonstrate the energy of the pop realm.
“The greatest, biggest pop-cultural figure of all time, arguably bigger than Jesus Christ, is Michael Jackson. You have the band in front of him, marching … and you have the cult around it,” West said.
According to a press release announcing Michael’s impending release, the first single, “Breaking News,” is a never-before-heard track recorded by the late pop icon in 2007 and recently finished by the album’s producers. The song will be streaming in full on Jackson’s official website beginning on Monday (November 8), and the stream will be live for one week.
The track listing for the project was not yet released but MTV News does have cover art photo gallery that showcases the highlights of Michael’s career. Sony Music, in their press release, did say that the collection will of “newly completed recordings” with “Breaking News” as the lead single of the project, set to be released very soon.
In addition to West, Michael Jackson’s passing affected the world and some in hip-hop shared their emotionally touching words just after his unexpected death last year.
“I personally can’t believe it,” said Lil Wayne to MTV News. “But it’s more unfortunate for the world of music. … My love goes out to his family. … A sad day in history, not [just] music.
Chris Brown, who broke down in tears this year during his BET Awards tribute performance of “Man in the Mirror,” had a few words as well back in 2009.
“Michael Jackson is the reason why I do music and why I am an entertainer,” Brown said. “I am devastated by this great loss and I will continue to be humbled and inspired by his legacy.”
The influence does not end with Chris Brown, Beyoncé also lent a few words.
“This is such a tragic loss and a terrible day,” Beyoncé added. “The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music. He was magic.”
Usher, a performer who has openly revealed his admiration of Micheal Jackson, told MTV News, “This loss has deeply saddened me! May God cover you, Michael. We all lift your name up in prayer…”
“He’s one of the reasons for me pushing for excellence with everything — shows, songs — I do,” added Estelle. “Prayers for the entire family.”
Irv Gotti also weighed in on Jackon’s impact on him and working together.
“He made the best records, videos, everything. I’m saddened by the world’s loss,” said Gotti. “For a brief time he considered working with me and having me produce his album. In that brief time, I got to know him fairly well. And he was just the coolest person.”
Jackson’s mother Katherine Jackson will appear on the Oprah Winfrey show, along with Jackson’s three children, on November 8 for an in-depth interview with the talk show queen.
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