MICHAEL JACKSON IS STILL ALIVE: Epilogue and thoughts…
Music Hall was jam packed with what looked like people of every size,
shape, color, and walk of life. I say church because the sound system
at U Street Music Hall lifts the most fantastic of sounds to the level
of the phenomenal, and yes, it takes the typical to the level of the
seemingly religious. If music is your religion, then Michael Jackson is
a patron saint, a deity par excellence, the most beloved of men.
This exceeded all expectations. Michael’s music elevates the spirit.
Proof of this being during the set of Baltimore’s James Nasty, when the
sound inexplicably cut out on “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” and the
entire room kept singing. Not only did they keep singing, but they sang
loud and long and proud, perfectly content to let their voices serve,
even if briefly, as an appropriate memory of the King of Pop.
The event was a success in the media as well. The Washington Post and a
plethora of other print, web and television media were in attendance,
not even so much for the event, but for the celebratory nature, the
wild time, the Thriller dance-off, the ballet like and delicate partner
dancing (yes, partner dancing) to MJ, Harry Hotter’s set which was
largely comprised of reggae and dancehall covers of Michael Jackson
hits, and oh so much more. The event was indeed so successful that
plans are already in the early stages for MICHAEL JACKSON FOREVER to coincide with his date of birth of August 29th. More info is forthcoming on that event.
HipsterOverkill.com’s D Painter, one of the five turntablists that spun
at the event, hit upon one of the highlights of the event with his
BRAND NEW mashup of Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor” and “Wanna Be Startin’
Somethin’,” “Mama Se, Mama Sa,” which proves that Michael Jackson is
one of the few artists that when added to something amazing, makes it
Harry Hotter, Chris Nitti, U Street Music Hall, and everyone in
attendance. Michael Jackson is absolutely still alive, and furthermore,
will live in our hearts forever!
Reprinted from TGRIOnline.com, October 28, 2009.
2009 ARTIST OF THE YEAR: MICHAEL JACKSON
Other Nominees: Lady Gaga, Drake, David Guetta
When you really sit down and think about it, anyone who records music
after Michael Jackson died is going to encounter having to be a cheap
facsimile of the King of Pop. In dying, Michael Jackson gave music so
much life. By opening eyes again to the wonder of his creative and
performing genius, I tend to believe the whole world improved. The sad
fact of 2009 is that it was the saddest year in the history of music.
It wasn’t all about the day the music died, it was about the days that
music KEPT dying. Whether it be DJ AM, Mr. Magic, the Death Set’s Beau
Velasco, Les Paul, DJ Roc Raida, and so, so, so, so, so many more,
these have been trying times. However, when Michael Jackson passed on
June 25th, it was easily one of the darkest moments in the history of
It was a big year for a lot of people. Lady Gaga has captured the
universe’s imagination in a manner not seen since Madonna, as her
obtuse fashion sense, lurid public displays and home run hitter of a
debut album have turned the world on its ear. Canadian Drake went from
being a popular supporting actor on “Degrassi High,” to being the lead
act as a lovestruck, passionate rhyming lothario whose “Best I Ever
Had” may have been the best we heard all year. David Guetta? Well, he
provided a great synthesis of popular dance music as the soundtrack of
2009, be it the Black Eyed Peas coronation as middle America’s favorite
faux hipsters “I Gotta Feeling,” or pretty much anything from his One Love mainstream electro masterpiece.
But let’s be honest. In the week after Michael Jackson died, his entire
musical catalog occupied the top list of iTunes top downloads. His
albums sales spiked in a generation where people are more concerned
with buying produce than recorded productions on CD. His music videos
played on MTV for an entire week, in a time where MTV eschews any
knowledge of the “music television” moniker, and instead is a slickly
produced lifestyle brand. Most recently, his “This is It” concert
biopic has become easily what will be the top grossing film of the
decade, even in an economic recession.
Michael Jackson was the soundtrack of a universe for literally seven
days. And nobody bitched, moaned, whined or caterwauled. We stopped,
dutifully noted the genius of a man, and genuflected. In a time where
the universe happens in nanoseconds, everyone slowed down and paid
respect or hours and days, feeling no issue with remaining unmoved.
Michael Jackson literally stopped the world. When BILLIONS of people
all attest to not just being your fan, but regarding what you did
through your artistry making you a familiar and beloved voice, a
friend, even, you’re the best to ever do it.
“They Don’t Really Care About Us” has the hottest drums I’ve heard
anywhere all year. “Butterflies” is the best ballad I heard in this
calendar year. “Beat It” is the best rock song. “Dancing Machine” is
still one of the hottest breaks ever, and I want to meet someone that
can doubt the hip hop authenticity of MJ doing the robot. Michael
Jackson singing “Ben,” “Got to Be There,” “Rockin’ Robin,” or any
Jackson 5 number makes him the most irrepressible teen pop icon of all
time, as I don’t care how hard Miley Cyrus “Parties in the USA,” she’s
still a pubescent hot mess when compared to the king.
Michael Jackson is 2009’s Artist of the Year. In all reality, that’s a
slap in the face to the man, and he’s the greatest to ever record
music. In final, something to ponder. Kanye West, in the face of
mounting public questioning and angst over his behavior, has completely
imploded. At every turn, Michael Jackson, when faced with increased
public scrutiny and ire, succeeded, and succeeded mightily. It’s a nod
to the talent, strength, dignity and unerring vision of a better
universe through music that Michael Jackson adhered, that makes him
truly THE. BEST. EVER.
We will always miss you.
Reprinted from TGRIOnline.com, June 26, 2009
I’ve always had the feeling that Michael Jackson had no other option in
life but to be Michael Jackson. That’s a lot of why he was the best to
ever do this. I’d say he was Jackie Wilson meets James Brown and a
whole slew of other artists, but that’d be so trite and unfair. Fuck.
Michael Jackson is dead. And with that, a part of our collective
musical consciousness is a memory. There’s a vitality inherent in the
presumption of immortality. In death, we lose that, and we find the
human. My greatest wish is that in remembering the human, we don’t lose
the nature of just how amazing the man was. His dream in youth to be
the greatest singer and dancer that ever lived, and to positively touch
the lives of every single person that ever heard his music, is just
like any other child’s dream, to be President, or, as our parents all
teach us, to dream big, dream impossible, and make those dreams come
true. But Mike had these dreams at three and four, and by by five he
was already doing it, already attempting to make dreams realities.
There’s something full of naivete there, something so human there,
something so accessible there, something for us ALL to love there as
well, and we did.
Michael gave his life to music, and in devoting the entirety of his
being to being the ULTIMATE, lies a tragic flaw. We all get a bit
older, get a bit slower, get a bit worn, but that was not supposed to
be Michael. Michael, through his aspiration, became timeless, became an
epic representation of something meant to create emotion: music.
Michael Jackson died while once again, at the age of 50, preparing to
make time stand still, doing it harder and better than anyone, a 50
show concert tour, which at any age is daunting, but at 50, given his
particular expectation, would have been simply incredible. His
motivation, be it financial salvation or a youthful pondering of
whether he still had “it” be damned, we ALL hoped that these concerts
would go off okay. Even if not for the advancement of his greatness,
but just to make sure that the best we ever had was still in good
health and good spirits after an amazingly tumultuous number of years.
We have never and will never see another Michael Jackson because, when
the man is at the height of his ability, and can be produced and
recorded by those at the heights of their abilities, the results are
timeless. I can list the songs, but I’d miss one and the universe would
be angry. I’m sure we’ve all heard every song Michael ever performed
over the last 12 hours. Five number one albums and thirteen number one
singles. And the B sides and hidden album cuts we all know and love and
hold dear. The man lived a life where he worked with Gamble and Huff,
Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Teddy Riley. He’s sang on
stage with Pavarotti and had Jay-Z lay down 16 bars on “You Rock My
World.” And, amazingly, after discussing ALL of that, I’ve touched a
tenth of his career. In working and learning from and emulating ALL of
the greats, Michael Jackson existed as a sheer musical marvel. Michael
Jackson is a standard and brand of excellence that in aiming for,
artists of the present and future can achieve greatness just in the
attempt to mirror him.
Through the music, Michael Jackson made a difference. In his youthful
demeanor, and sheer hope upon all hopes in the world, Michael created
change. He was a life changer. A WORLD changer. He single handedly
changed the face of pop radio and MTV by being black and having
widespread appeal and undeniable talent. By merely being better than
everyone else, he knocked a hole in the terrifying edifice of racism
that so so so many have walked through in so many walks of life. He had
the power, through his career to do daily what people hope to do once
in a lifetime. He’s shaken hands and had conversations with so many
people of power, so many people of influence who were likely prouder to
meet him than he was to meet them. When your goal is to be the best,
you go into life fully expecting this to be the nature of what you do.
And he did this all dutifully, as if with each legendary tune, at a
certain point, knowing that he was solidifying his ability to literally
be a world beater.
And there’s his final tragic flaws. Life and love. Michael Jackson
lived on the same planet with us, but due to the intense stress of
literally being the greatest and most influential man to ever create
sound, he mortgaged his life, and mortgaged the ability to learn how to
love himself and love others. You can’t love yourself when you become
the forefront of public opinion at eight years old. Eight! We all know
how damaging it is as a child to be told you’re ugly and are no good.
Now imagine likely hearing this from not your child peers, but from
adults! Many humans are cynical, jealous and hateful people. The pain
and stigma from that certainly seems tremendous. Now extrapolate that
over forty-two years of striving and winning despite that, and as the
woes increase, still attempting to just do what you know, and in the
process grow, mature, and learn, having never been adequately provided
the tools to do. His legendary odd behavior (we all know all the
stories and cases, no need to rehash them in this space), well, if not
a reaction in attempting to fight his own life and gain the ability to
love, to create something “normal,” to have an other from his very
public, full time persona, well that makes sense. It may sound crazy,
but in holding Michael Jackson to the same rules, laws and regulations
as say, Marcus Dowling, well, that’s just a recipe for danger. Nobody
has ever lived this life and existed in this manner before. There are
no rules for this. Crazy, but upon further review, true.
Michael Jackson is no longer amongst us in the living. But remember his
exalted life. Remember his sheer mastery of music. Remember his hopes
and dreams. No matter how you feel, the man had an impact and made an
ultimate sacrifice and difference. Long live the King.