Go inside the studio with the producers of Michael's new album, XSCAPE, in this exclusive sneak peak from the album documentary which is available only on XSCAPE Deluxe Edition. To own the full documentary, pre-order XSCAPE now #MJXSCAPE
Bringing Michael Back.
The Inside Story of Jackson's New Album
Billboard's new cover story focuses on the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, going behind the scenes with the super-producers who sifted through nearly two-decades of MJ's studio outtakes in an attempt to produce what they hope will be a posthumous hit record, "Xscape" (out May 13). Antonio "L.A." Reid, Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins and J-Roc -- the "Xscape" team -- take Billboard into the making of the album, available in an expanded edition that includes a new Justin Timberlake-MJ duet "Love Never Felt So Good."
Check back Monday (May 5) to get the full story. Until then, here are five things we learned about the journey to Michael Jackson's "Xscape."
HARDCORE FANS WILL LIKELY RECOGNIZE THE TRACKS… But that doesn't mean the producers had heard them before. Timbaland and Stargate's Mikkel Eriksen both began by listening to the source material that Reid presented, and both quickly decided to forgo the instrumental tracks and work with only Jackson's vocals and a few stray noises picked up by the microphone. "You can hear his foot in the booth when he's singing, and his fingers snapping," says Jerkins.
L.A. REID TRIED TO SIGN JACKSON TO ISLAND DEF JAM. "He said, 'I don't want another hit, I don't want to just make another record. I want to do something great. If it can't be great, if it can't be groundbreaking, if it can't be massive, if you're not as committed as I am, then we shouldn't do it. But if you commit to me I promise I'll commit to you." It wasn't to be. Jackson instead signed a short-lived deal with Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the prince of Bahrain.
MJ REALLY WANTED TO WORK WITH STARGATE. Jackson was looking to collaborate with the Norwegian production duo Stargate — Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Hermansen — known for their hits with Rihanna and Perry. The singer was a fan of their songs for Ne-Yo, and he met with them at the Midtown Manhattan Chinese restaurant Mr. K's to discuss future projects. "Just the two of us, and managers, and Blanket was there as well," says Eriksen. "Down in the basement."
FULL cover story on Billboard.com on Monday morning for the FULL cover story.