Quincy Jones Disses Michael Jackson's 'Xscape' — But He May Have a Good Motive
If you thought Michael Jackson's hologram performance at the Billboard Music Awards was disconcerting, just wait until you hear Quincy Jones's opinions on the King of Pop's posthumous album. A lauded music producer and collaborator with Jackson on Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad, Jones nonetheless thinks none too highly of Xscape , the L.A. Reid and Timbaland-produced revamp of Jackson's previously unreleased material that dropped earlier this May. In an interview with CBC Radio, Jones said of the Xscape producers, "They're trying to make money. And I understand it. Everybody's after money, the estate, the lawyers. It's about money." Though he also qualified his remarks by admitting, "It's not my business anymore," those words can't help but come off a little bitter, and pointedly so — especially given his recent legal disputes with the Jackson estate.
In October of last year, Jones filed a $10 million lawsuit claiming that masters of songs he worked on with Jackson had been altered in order to cut him out of future royalties and profits to which he would have otherwise been entitled — specifically, on posthumous releases, such as the film and soundtrack for This Is It, the re-release of Bad, and the Cirque du Soleil performances that make use of Jackson's material. So, while Jones may indeed have some real reverence for the purity of Jackson's reputation and its corruption by greed, in light of this ongoing legal battle, it's also hard not to imagine his frustration toward other producers using Jackson's material to reap a major profit.
Perhaps this interpretation of Jones's remarks is colored by the fact that Xscape's other major detractor, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, also has some legitimate beef with the album, in that it was released on the same days as the Keys' latest output, putting Carney and Jackson neck in neck for top album sales. In an interview with Rolling Stone , Carney slammed Xscape as "some fucking bullshit that sucks so bad that it took them three years after he died to make it listenable." He also joined Jones in his cries of "sell-out," by theorizing that the only reason it got made is because "L.A. Reid needed a new boat." (Since he made those remarks, however, the Keys' Turn Blue has officially beaten out Xscape for Billboard's No. 1 — no news on whether Carney's attitude toward the album has thus become less hostile.)
Of course, both men are right in their criticism, to some extent. Because sure, the late release of Jackson's material will garner a lofty sum from devoted fans and curious audiophiles alike — and that BBMAs hologram dance certainly didn't detract from the inherently gimmicky potential of a "posthumous album." Still, is it that hard to simply enjoy one last unexpected record from an artist so beloved? Earlier this year, it was revealed that Johnny Cash's recordings had languished in Sony's vault for ages before they were finally discovered and released as the album Out Among the Stars — where were Jones and Carney to protest then?