A few months ago, when the world first caught wind of a new Michael Jackson album making it’s way back from the graves, it wasn’t hard to imagine that mixed feelings were involved, especially after a common discontent with the 2010 release of “Michael”, which still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of his most dedicated fans. Despite some exemplary accomplishments from the afterlife of artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, music lovers are generally wary of posthumous albums. Ethics aside, when a recording company digs up material of its deceased artists, how well does it capture the way these songs were meant to be put together by the artist? And, in Michael’s case, how well does it produce the music that have been previously deemed unworthy or incomplete to be released into official albums?

Some say that those who call James Brown the hardest-working artist in the history of music has never heard of Michael Jackson. The King of Pop is a perfectionist to say the least, known to record up to 30 takes before finding just the right sound for a track. Michael’s insistence also manifests his choice of music; some of his albums started with over 70 tracks to choose from before he would finally shave off most of the songs and keep only the essentials to be made into an album worthy of Michael’s approval stamp. It would, therefore, be quite fitting to claim that the King of Pop presents only the cream of the crop.

Michael’s pet peeve for the right sound leaves more than 80 percent of his raw material sitting in a vault somewhere, untouched, unseen, unreleased. And that’s where Epic Records and Sony Music got the idea of pulling these demos from the freezer, sprinkle some big-shot producers on them, before serving up as a re-heated hot plate of Michael-leftover, aromatic with profit-effective savour. Fortunately for the label, Michael’s legacy is still so fresh and strong in the minds of his music connoisseurs that we would gobble up the whole thing just because we miss how it tastes.

By the way, when I said big-shot producers, I meant exactly that. This second posthumous album, with the majority of its original demos recorded between Michael’s 1991 “Dangerous” and 2001 “Invincible” albums, was sent through the production machine of a star-studded team comprised of Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, Jay Z), Stargate (Beyonce, Rihanna) and Cory Rooney (Jennifer Lopez, Santana). The King of Pop deserves the best of the pops to refine his music for him, and, personally, I think they did a fine job.

Between the more upbeat and rhythmic tracks like “Xscape” and “Slave to the Rhythm” we find out why Michael is still the uncontested source of pop to pop[ular music]. His energy and passion for music was never just a side-product from the instrumental that accompanied the vocal. You can find all of it in the way he approaches every word and syllable. On the other hand, you also catch a glimpse into his tormented-childhood, his sensitivity and his delicate emotions in the more ballad-y tracks like “Loving You” and “Love Never Felt So Good” (a beautiful duet with Justin Timberlake). This time around, the production does a fabulous job painting a picture of the conflicting sides of Michael’s temperaments. His words are soft spoken; yet his singing is powerful beyond belief. His demeanour is humble; yet his performance is bold with immeasurable zeal.

I can understand a lot of you are still contemplating if you should give-in to the corporate abuse of Michael Jackson’s material. But once you have really thought about how silly a reason that is to pass up on a great chance to pay money for his work, and in turn pay respect to Michael’s family, I recommend that you buy the deluxe version, where you get both the original demo, and the re-produced, versions of his songs. Compare them, and enjoy playing a part in his timeless legacy.

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