By Maurice Bobb
Nobody did it quite like Michael Jackson. From pop to R&B to hip-hop, no one had more influence on music than MJ. And it wasn’t just a sonic influence, either. Some of raps most revered artists have name dropped the late pop icon in their songs to pay homage or just to reference his greatness as metaphor for how well they dance, lyrically, on a track.
As we all mourn the legendary Thriller singer on the fourth anniversary of his untimely passing, we’ll take a look at a few of the best bars featuring the gloved one.
Of course Jay-Z tips his hat to the greatest. On the Kanye West-assisted “Ni—as in Paris,” the Magna Carta Holy Grail MC compares all the great Michaels in his time with the line, “(Ball so hard) Since we here, it’s only right that we’d be fair/Psycho: I’m liable to go Michael, take your pick/Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6.”
Jay’s partner in rhyme Yeezy had his own memorable line on “Slow Jamz,” where he compared the crooner to girls, “She got a light skinned friend look like Michael Jackson/Got a dark skinned friend look like Michael Jackson/I play ’Ready for the World’ – she was ready for some action.”
On “Over,” Drake goes at other emcees using Mike, “About to go thriller, Mike Jackson on these ni–as/All I need’s a f—-ng red jacket with some zippers.”
On “Karate Chop (remix),” the same song that cost him his lucrative endorsement deal with Mountain Dew, Lil Wayne and Future name drop MJ, “Drink a bunch of codeine, Serve it to the dope fiends (yeah)/Blowing money, stay clean (check me out) Michael Jackson, Billy Jean/Who bad?”
Flavor Flav recently went as far as dedicating the track “Michael Jackson” to the late star, and accompanied it with a pretty odd video.
Going back in time a bit, LL Cool J mentions Jackson on “Rock the Bells,” with the line, ”I’m growin’ and glowin’ like a forest blaze/Do you like Michael Jackson, we like Cool J.”
Back to present day, Rick Ross mentions the great one twice, once on “Power Circle” with the line, “If Michael Jackson came alive right now, He’d ask you to smoke one for him” and “Us,” with the line, “Michael Jackson got them fiends just like Thrilla/Two door Maybach clean, smokin’ on killa.”
Outside of lyrical mention, Michael’s greatest hits have been sampled in some of rap’s most seminal bangers. Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P.” samples the Jackson 5’s “ABC,” Puff Daddy’s “All About The Benjamins” samples the Jackson 5’s “It’s Great To Be Here” and Nas’ “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” samples Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”