New Michael Jackson album is 'disrespectful', says Will.I.Am

Black Eyed Peas frontman, who worked with Jackson, claims forthcoming compilation featuring 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz and Akon seeks to profit from the singer's death

The legacy of Michael Jackson is in the safe hands of 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz and Akon. All three have been announced as special guests on Michael, the late singer's forthcoming, controversial LP of unreleased music. However, not everyone is happy that the album is seeing the light of day, with Will.I.Am branding the project "disrespectful".

Recently, every day seems to bring either a new piece of information – or a new murmur of dissatisfaction – about the new Jackson compilation. First came the album title, cover art and release date. Then came rumours about "fake" tracks, from the singer's family. Epic released Breaking News, a "teaser" from the new album, in an attempt to hush critics; but the talk of soundalikes continued, forcing the estate into damage control. On top of this, Prince asked for his symbol to be removed from the Michael album cover, and Ubisoft revealed new details about their Michael Jackson game. Now, Jackson's label has announced the tracklist for the first posthumous album of original material by the world's biggest pop star, who could have worked with almost any artist under the sun – and it's Akon, 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz who apparently got the calls.

"I'm so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael, one of my all time idols," Akon said. His Auto-Tune duet with Jackson, Hold My Hand, leaked in 2008, but Jackson's estate claims the singer left a handwritten note asking for this to be the album's first official single: it will be released later today. Although Hold My Hand sounded half-baked in 2008, Akon insists the track has improved: "In its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song," he said. Meanwhile, Lenny Kravitz appears on a song called (I Can't Make It) Another Day, while 50 Cent contributes to Monster. "Michael reached out to me to do this song before he passed," Fiddy said on Twitter. "[It's] going to be the biggest thing ever."

But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the forthcoming Michael Jackson album. This weekend Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am, one of the producers often associated with Jackson's late material, called the compilation "disrespectful". "Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Michael Jackson songs are finished when Michael says they're finished. Maybe if I never worked with him I wouldn't have this perspective. [But] he was very particular about how he wanted his vocals, the reverb he used ... He was that hands-on."

Will.I.Am recorded at least three songs with Jackson: Dreaming, Still the King and a James Brown tribute called I Will Miss You. But the Black Eyed Peas leader said that without Jackson's permission, they will never be released. "He kept his vocals and I kept the music," he said. "We had that understanding."

Michael is released on 14 December.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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