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Redemption Songs: Michael Jackson (Pg. 6)

“Michael was very hard to impress,” says This Is It choreographer Travis Payne, who was blown away by the singer’s fluid dancing abilities despite his age, the same moves which revolutionized music videos in the early ‘80s. “He felt his dancing equaled to words . . . and he had to use the right words. That was a big deal to him. I’d show him something I’d think was amazing and he would say, ‘Okay, I see where you are going, but we should do this to it or try it like this or take away the leg part.’ He was always in control.”

And that control included pushing the envelope musically. Jackson wasn’t trying to present some sort of nostalgia trip. “He really had hoped during the London shows that he would be able to reveal some of his new material,” Ortega recalls. “The new songs were a big part of Michael’s time when he wasn’t at rehearsal.” Over and over Michael would excitedly tell This Is It’s production crew of his plans to return to the top of the pop charts with the music he and his team were making in Vegas. “Soon, soon . . . ” Michael would say to Ortega. “I want you to hear what we are doing.” But it was not to be. On June 25, 2009, the music stopped.

“I still get emotional thinking about it,” says an audibly choked up Teddy Riley. “I sent him a few pieces, which he said were taking him back to the days of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” It was going to the next level.” Riley described the material as Parliament Funkadelic meets Toto—a big sound. “We never got the chance to record it,” Riley adds. “But beyond the music, I miss my friend.”

***

“IN HINDSIGHT, HE might have had a romantic death wish about the way he wanted to exit this stage of life,” says best-selling spiritual author Dr. Deepak Chopra, who first met Michael in 1982, and kept in touch with him throughout the years. “Michael went through many phases,” Chopra says. “I’ve counseled people both in film and music industries, and their addictions are usually perpetuated by personal doctors in Los Angeles who will do anything for a fee. At times, Michael did want to be helped. He was very endearing, but he could be a manipulative fellow. Still, there was no one who had music in his blood like Michael.”

Whatever the circumstances behind Michael Jackson’s June 25 death, the unprecedented public outpouring of love for the singer has been extraordinary.  According to John Branca, who oversees MJ’s estate, Michael’s mother Katherine didn’t want to see This Is It at first. Then she started getting calls from her friends telling her it was wonderful. Branca says she called the estate and said, ‘I guess we have a No. 1 movie.’” The documentary came in first at the box office, becoming the biggest-selling DVD and the No. 1 album. “All of a sudden it was like, ‘Oh, okay, maybe they knew what they were doing,’” says Branca.

Now that the record-breaking deal with Sony is signed and sealed, Michael Jackson’s estate now faces the arduous task of culling the diverse collection of unreleased and/or unfinished tracks recorded during the 2007-2009 sessions. Already leaked on the Internet is Akon and Michael’s syrupy sweet ballad “Hold My Hand,” co-written by Claude Kelly, who has crafted hits for R. Kelly, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. will.i.am’s contributions includes the Latin jazz-tinged scorcher “The Future,” an infectious dance track reminiscent of Off the Wall; the aforementioned, soul-stirring James Brown salute “Miss You,” and “The King,” an all-star number that was to feature a legion of performers who were inspired by Jackson. “I said to MJ, ‘Let’s do a song with everyone that you have obviously influenced,” Will explains. “‘A collaboration with you as the King, and all of your subjects, like Ne-Yo, Usher, Omarion and Chris Brown.’ Everybody was signed off on the track.”

On this first-year anniversary of his death, what would Michael have made of his triumphant return as the King of Pop? Would he laugh to see himself scoring 14 of the top 20 selling albums on Amazon.com? Would he cry at the endless parade of tributes he inspired? Would he bob his head during Cirque du Soleil’s Fall 2011 arena tour set to his music? Would he smile at This Is It garnering critical raves for its riveting portrayal of a man who refused to fold in the face of countless obstacles?

Akon has his own theory. “Everything in Mike’s life was choreographed,” he says. “So he’s probably on some island right now just relaxing, waiting for the time to come back. I can deal with his death knowing that. One day I’m going to be somewhere going to the market and I might see him with that same disguise that he had on in Vegas. I would just say to him, ‘Don’t worry Michael, I won’t tell nobody.’”

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Grammy-Winning Producer DJ Official Killed During Double Shooting In Los Angeles

Family and friends, including DJ Mustard and Ty Dolla Sign, are mourning the loss of André Wakefield, a.k.a “DJ Official.”  The Grammy award-winning producer and father to a newborn son, was killed in a double drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles Friday (June 14).

He was 26.

Wakefield and his friend were shot while sitting outside of his home. The gunfire startled his grandfather who was mowing the lawn at the time. The killer fled the scene in a black SUV.

“All he did was go to work and come home,” Wakefield’s grandfather told NBC Los Angeles of his grandson. “He didn’t belong to [a] gang or nothing like that.”

According to a cousin, Wakefield was at the studio with Nipsey Hussle two days before the 31-year-old rapper was killed. One of his final Instagram posts was a dedication to Hussle.

DJ Mustard took to Instagram with a dedication to Wakefield who belonged to his 10 Summers imprint. “I’m beyond hurt. I’m devastated. I’m sick to my stomach,” he wrote. “I love you lil bro forever @prodbyofficial .... I got your son 4 life this ain’t how it was suppose to go.”

 

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I’m beyond hurt I’m devastated I’m sick to my stomach I love you lil bro forever @prodbyofficial .... i got your son 4 life this ain’t how it was suppose to go 😥 a real 10SUMMER MEMBER !

A post shared by Mustard (@mustard) on Jun 14, 2019 at 7:54pm PDT

Ty Dolla $ign also shared an emotional Instagram post writing, “How the f**k they gon' take @prodbyofficial ? Who the f**k was mad at my bro? A father, a successful producer, a solid homie who meant a lot to all of us. U n**gas is some real life jealous a** b**ches out here. We had so much fun on this tour and every time I ran into u it was love and good vibes. LONG LIVE OFFICIAL.”

 

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How the fuck they gon take @prodbyofficial ? Who the fuck was mad at my bro ? A father, a successful producer, a solid homie who meant a lot to all of us . U niggas is some real life jealous ass bitches out here. we had so much fun on this tour and every time I ran into u it was love and good vibes . LONG LIVE OFFICIAL ❤️🤲🏾

A post shared by $ex $ymbol (@tydollasign) on Jun 14, 2019 at 9:01pm PDT

Wakefield won a Grammy earlier this year and produced for the likes of Cardi B, YG, Rich The Kid, City Girls, Chris Brown and more. He recently produced three tracks on Tyga’s Legacy album.

Police are still investigating the shooting.

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J. Cole Says He’s “Working On” Getting ‘The Warm Up’ And ‘Friday Night Lights’ On Streaming Services

On June 15, 2009, J. Cole released his second mixtape, The Warm Up, which helped to catalyze his rise in the hip-hop genre.

“10 years ago The Warm Up dropped,” he began. “Thanks 2 all that have listened 2 the foundation of my whole journey. My catalogue on streaming services don’t even look right until this & FNL are up. Workin on it. Decade later and I’m still dreaming and tryna get better. God Bless.”

Spanning 22 tracks, The Warm Up boasts melodies like “Lights Please,” “Losing My Balance,” “The Badness” with Dreamville cohort Omen, and “Grown Simba.” With "Lights Please," Cole credited that melody with landing him a Roc Nation contract. "The best part about it is, when he’s feeling something, when there’s a line that he likes, he gives you that, 'Wooooooo!’ and he’ll let you know that he’s feeling it," he said in a 2009 interview with Complex. "It’s a three-hour meeting and we only played five songs, so the rest of the time, we’re talking and building, you know, talking about Obama and sh*t. Then three weeks later I got the confirmation text that said he wanted to do the deal. And we just went from there."

In May 2019, Cole celebrated another milestone when his third studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, went triple platinum. The feat also publicized the fact that every album Cole has released (five albums thus far) turned platinum.

10 years ago The Warm Up dropped. Thanks 2 all that have listened 2 the foundation of my whole journey.

My catalogue on streaming services don’t even look right until this & FNL are up. workin on it.

Decade later and I’m still dreamin and tryna get better. God Bless

— J. Cole (@JColeNC) June 15, 2019

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Diddy Sends Well Wishes To Cassie On Pregnancy Announcement

Earlier this week (June 13), Cassie announced that she’s expecting her first child. “Can’t wait to meet out baby girl,” the “Me And You” singer captioned a photo of her and her boyfriend Alex Fine. “Love you always & forever.”

Following the announcement, Diddy, who was in a relationship with Cassie for a reported 10 years, posted his well wishes on Instagram. “Congratulations @Cassie and Alex,” Diddy wrote. “I wish you all nothing but love and happiness. God bless. LOVE.”

The pair separated earlier this year after an on-and-off relationship. Once they went their separate ways, Cassie and fitness professional Fine began dating.

 

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Congratulations @Cassie and Alex. I wish you all nothing but love and happiness. God bless ❤️❤️❤️ L O V E

A post shared by Diddy (@diddy) on Jun 14, 2019 at 12:15pm PDT

 

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Can’t wait to meet our baby girl 💗 Love You Always & Forever 📸: @mikemillerphoto

A post shared by Casandra (@cassie) on Jun 12, 2019 at 9:31pm PDT

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