Akon refuses to release unfinished Michael Jackson tracks

R&B star behind Hold My Hand says the rest of his Jackson collaborations were incomplete when the singer died

The man who co-created the new Michael Jackson single says he won't release any more of the songs they recorded together. Following the release of Hold My Hand, which failed to break the US top 20, Akon explained that the rest of his Jackson collaborations were incomplete when the singer died. "I might burn [them]," he said. "I would never put [them] out unfinished."

Released last Monday, Hold My Hand was the first official single from Michael, a posthumous collection of unreleased Jackson songs. It was the second album sample in as many weeks. On 7 November, Sony Music issued a track called Breaking News, hoping to quell rumours that some of Jackson's vocals on the album were "fake". However, not only have these rumours proven persistent – Hold My Hand has failed to light up the charts. It will be released in the UK on 28 November.

Speaking to MTV News, Akon said that Hold My Hand was one of the few unreleased Jackson tracks "that was actually fully complete". "The rest aren't," he said. "They're just ideas, concepts, and harmonies that the world will probably never see ... We've done plenty of records outside of this, but they were just incomplete ... I might just burn [them] after this interview."

This was more or less the attitude of Will.I.Am, another producer who had been working with Jackson before his death. "It's disrespectful," the Black Eyed Peas frontman said last week. "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." Earlier this summer, Will.I.Am insisted the new album "[shouldn't] ever come out". "Now that he is not part of the process, what are they doing?"

With Akon's and Will.I.Am's collaborations removed from the equation, and with Jackson's family raising questions about "Cascio tracks", it is not clear how much unreleased music is left. Certainly Sony, which signed a deal for 10 albums over seven years, will be counting on an estate vault containing "hundreds" of unreleased tracks. But instead of "new" songs, these may end up being B-sides, out-takes and alternate versions of earlier records. "There are a couple of songs we recorded for the Bad album that we had to cut that are just sensational," promised Tommy Mottola, Sony's former label head. R Kelly has also described a trove of unreleased Jackson collaborations.

Then again, Jackson's unreleased material may prove disappointing. While Hold My Hand proved a success in Sweden, Denmark and Italy, the song didn't even scrape the top 20 in the US, Canada, Australia or Ireland.

Michael, due on 10 December, contains 10 tracks, including colaborations with 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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