What Michael Jackson Meant To Me: Feat. Ne-Yo, Akon, Solange & More

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic June 25 death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. We asked some of his friends, collaborators, and peers to give their fondest memories of the greatest entertainer who ever lived. Long live the King.—Keith Murphy



AKON (Singer, producer, and label mogul; worked with Jackson on his as yet unreleased comeback album)

“I’ve always been a fan since I was a kid when it came to Mike. As I started to become more successful in the business and started meeting all of these artists, the fan thing for me kind of got fazed out. You meet everyone and you start to realize that they are normal. But the day I actually met him in my mind I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m going to meet Mike!!!’ He’s like a myth. You don’t believe that he’s real. You don’t even believe that you are having a conversation with him. I thought I was going to be a big groupie when I met him, honestly. But he was just the coolest dude. He named all my records and who I worked with. That was just amazing.” 

EGYPT (Midday radio host on New York’s 107.5 WBLS)

“To me, MJ meant the world! He single handedly was one of the most iconic figures of 20th century. His influence on music, dance, fashion, race relations and humanitarian efforts is unmatched by anyone. MJ built up millions of people. My only hope is that he left this earth feeling that he received as much from the world as he gave to the world.”

KEKE PALMER (actress, singer)

“[Michael] let me know you can be anything or do anything, especially if you set the right standard for yourself. He kept going and didn’t want to be like anybody else. He was just so talented and he let me know that I could make anything happen. I was devastated when I first found out he passed. I cried. This may sound selfish, but I really wanted to meet him. I would have loved to have [recorded] music with him but I really just wanted to talk to him as a person. There are a lot of talented musicians, but a lot of times it’s because they work hard. But Michael Jackson, not only did he [work hard], he had the talent—he couldn’t do anything else. Even if he wanted to stop [doing music] he probably couldn’t because he was just so connected. Michael was born to [entertain] and not a lot of people [can say that.]”

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