Producers on New Michael Jackson Release Are Not Thrillers

Who should be producing Xscape?

Pop Life

Kanye West should at least executive-produce this thing.

No one was more disappointed than we were when producers decided to capitalize on unreleased Michael Jackson material with the album Michael just one year after the King of Pop passed away in June 2009. It was a crass moneymaking maneuver, and the album showed it.

They're doing it again this year with a new record called Xscape, produced by a collaborative team headed up by Timbaland and due May 13. The saddest part of the whole deal is that Jackson probably did leave behind some worthy scraps for producers to craft into a new record, but the people in charge of his unreleased material are picking the wrong people to work with it.

Wouldn't it be better to leave MJ's music in the hands of those who knew him best?
Wouldn't it be better to leave MJ's music in the hands of those who knew him best?

But we could actually experience a legitimately great posthumous work by Jackson if it were in the right hands. These five producers, for example, might actually do something cool with those tracks now in the MJ vault.

The Weeknd: Is there any producer alive today with a better understanding of Michael Jackson's appeal? Were MJ still with us, he would no doubt jump at the chance to work with The Weeknd, especially after hearing the young R&B singer-songwriter-producer's cover of "Dirty Diana." Now, obviously the material on Xscape wouldn't have been the same as working with a living King of Pop, but one can only dream of what The Weeknd could do with it given free rein over the existing tracks. And speaking of dreaming...

The-Dream: Anything The-Dream touches practically turns to gold. You can turn to his work with Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and even solo, but best of all might be his recent effort with Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, the massive "Holy Grail." That song is just an immaculate piece of production work. After hearing it, you can never really doubt The-Dream's abilities ever again; not to mention that JT's performance sounds like a loving tribute to Jackson himself. Were he to work with the real deal's leftover material, The-Dream would surely churn out hit after hit.

The Internet: Odd Future's collaborative group of producers, known as The Internet, makes an odd brand of trip-hop and instrumental funk and soul, which has led to some of the most interesting records in that style in years. Unfortunately, they're underrated within the collective compared to superstar rappers like Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator.

But even though they're relatively untested, putting The Internet in charge of MJ's music could be an experiment gone terribly right. Though those in charge of the King of Pop's estate would probably never give a young group like this — which has never produced a mainstream hit — a chance to work with his unreleased tracks, it could still be the spark behind one of the most interesting Jackson albums ever made.

Kanye West: Okay, what the hell? Was Kanye not even asked, or was he just busy? It's tough to imagine a scenario where Yeezus wouldn't be the first person to come to mind to, at the very least, executive-produce this thing. Surely he would jump at the opportunity, as one of the biggest Michael Jackson fans in the world. Ideally, Kanye would bring along his entire crew and do it by committee as on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With him at the head and a whole Justice League of the greatest producers on earth working with him, this is an idea that almost could not fail.

Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis: By far the most successful producers ever to collaborate with Michael Jackson were these three, who had a hand in such classics as Off the Wall, Thriller and HIStory. Seriously, have you listened to MJ's old albums? Go pick up HIStory again; it still sounds vital and relevant. "Scream" alone, produced by Jam and Lewis, could be a hit for Katy Perry right now. You just can't argue with results. If there's anyone to handle MJ's unreleased records, it should be the same people who made his records great when he was still alive.

Only In Houston

Quite a Kickoff
The first-ever concert at BBVA Compass Stadium looks positively huge.

Chris Gray

More than two years after opening, BBVA Compass Stadium will finally host its first concert this summer — and it's a big one.

Two Fridays ago, the stadium and 93.7 The Beat announced they would bring a who's who of hip-hop and R&B stars to the home of the Dynamo, Dash and TSU football in the first-ever "H-Town BEAT Down," a Juneteenth blowout on Friday, June 20. Scheduled to perform so far are Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Future, Trey Songz and the ubiquitous "special guests." Last week the station said that heavyweight Houston rappers Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Z-Ro and Trae Tha Truth would also perform, as all of them save Trae did at the Beat-sponsored "Welcome to Houston" Arena Theatre concert this past February.

"We promised our listeners, advertisers and the community that the Beat would be a world-class hip-hop and R&B station, showcasing high-profile on-air personalities and providing listeners access to big-name artists," said Eddie Martiny, president and market manager for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, the Beat's parent company, as part of the announcement.

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