Producers on New Michael Jackson Release Are Not Thrillers

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

Pop Life

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.

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.

Since flipping from classic rock last New Year's Eve, the Beat has aggressively challenged 97.9 The Box for bragging rights in Houston's hypercompetitive hip-hop radio market, a strategy that appears to be working. Tickets, priced at $38, are available at the stadium and AXS's Web sites, by phone at 888-929-7849, at the BBVA box office (2200 Texas) and through the Beat's plentiful giveaways.

Shortly before BBVA opened in May 2012, it announced that country-pop group Sugarland would perform at the venue's inaugural concert that August, but that show was ultimately canceled.

Screwston, Texas

H-Town's Very Own
Rap superstar Drake takes his "appreciation" of Houston to a whole new level.


When he's not being the nicest rapper ever by fulfilling a cancer-stricken Houston teen's wish to meet him, Drake tends to surprise fans with random song releases in the wee hours of the morning, cryptic tweets and lots of canoodling with Rihanna.

Last month, in an odd, message-board-like posting on his October's Very Own Web site, the Canadian superstar made mention of a "Houston Appreciation Weekend," but gave up little else apart from a simple logo. Then, on April 12, he announced via Instagram what looks to be a localized tour kicking off on June 13 and ending June 15, three dates that Toyota Center, House of Blues and Warehouse Live all happen to have open (for now).

We can only hope Houston Appreciation Weekend is just three days of Drake educating us about his cashmere sweaters, singing sad love songs at a lounge somewhere, or maybe playing hopscotch with a bunch of kids. Instead, we suspect it's three Drake shows at three different venues, with three different set lists and plenty of guests.

Hey, think of it as Drake's OVO Fest in his hometown of Toronto this August, but without OutKast.

Ask Willie D

Selfie Loathing
A reader's boyfriend is pressuring her to text him nude photos.

Dear Willie D:

I'm sort of dating this guy who lives out of town. We met at a party in Denver a few weeks ago and have since talked on the phone almost every day for at least two hours each time. We have had phone sex and he has sent me a photo of himself nude and asked me to do the same, but I refused. I told him he would have to wait to see the real thing. But he keeps pressuring me to send him naked pictures.

I know guys are into that type of thing, but I don't want to put myself out there like that. What if he shares the picture with his friends, or gets mad at me and posts them on the Internet? I would be mortified. He keeps telling me that he won't share them. What do you think I should do?

Real Thing:

Bad idea. By now every female should have gotten the memo about how nude photos shared on cell phones and over the Internet have ruined the reputations of countless young women. The only reason you should share nude pictures of yourself is if you don't care who sees them; that includes his friends, your friends, your employer, your future employer, your future husband, your in-laws, your children, your children's friends, etc.

When a guy tells a girl he won't share naked pictures of her body, it's the new way of saying he won't tell anybody if she has sex with him. Of course he's going to tell. That's what guys do.

Ask Willie D appears Thursday mornings on Rocks Off.

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