Michael Jackson Estate Has 'More Songs to Share,' Collaborators Say
A couple of Michael Jackson collaborators involved with the posthumous "Michael" album say there's more where these tracks came from -- and they hope to see them released in the future, too.
"My sense is they have lots more songs to actually share with the world, and I hope to be part of it," Teddy Riley, who's worked with Jackson since 1991's "Dangerous," tells Billboard.com. Riley was called in to finish three of the songs on "Michael": "Hollywood Tonight," for which he wrote a spoken bridge section; "Monster," which features 50 Cent; and "Breaking News."
Riley says he already has some additional tracks "in my computer, waiting for (the Jackson estate) to push the button." Among those is the recently leaked "Blue Gangsta," which Riley describes as "the next level of the next chapter of 'Smooth Criminal.' "
Similarly, Akon -- who teamed with Jackson on "Michael's" first single, "Hold My Hand" -- is hoping he'll have a chance to bring forth more of the music he and Jackson worked on in 2008.
"There were a lot of songs we actually got to start up," the Senagalese-American artist reports, "but the problem is we never really got a chance to finish them because we kind of created the same way. He would start songs and then go on to the next song before one song was finished, then double back and complete the songs later. We just wanted to get as many ideas done as possible. So we got ideas, but none of them were really in a position to where we could finish them and put them out."
Their fate, Akon adds, is in the hands of the Jackson estate and executors John McClain, who helmed two tracks on "Michael," and attorney John Branca. "It all depends on the situation," Akon says. "I think whatever he left behind, there's ways we can make them sound really presentable to people and give them something to hold onto. I would love to be a part of it."
Neither the estate nor Sony Music have committed to further posthumous releases from the Jackson vaults, noting in a statement accompanying "Michael" that "while it is too early to announce specific future projects, it is safe to say that given how much Michael valued his fans, the selection and release of those works will be done in a way that properly honors his legacy."
Both Riley and Akon feel "Michael" lives up to that standard, too.
"Who wouldn't want to continue such a great entertainer and such a great legacy?" explains Riley, who kept photos of Jackson in the studio to keep him "focused" on his late friend. "Why not continue someone's legacy and take it to the next level? Michael was a never-ending book." Akon, meanwhile, adds that he was "shocked and surprised" by the "Michael" project because Jackson "wouldn't want any of his songs to be released if they weren't completely done," but believes the finished product will assuage any naysayers.
"The world knows that these songs are not completely finished," he says. "It's more that his intention was to complete and finish these (songs) and put them out to his audience. It's more of a situation where we can just take it and say, OK, this is something he left behind for us to enjoy. Even though it's not completely done, it's a great opportunity to hold on to something that could have been amazing."