After making history with long-time producer Quincy Jones on “Off The Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad,” Michael Jackson and Jones decided to part ways for the “Dangerous” album when recording began in June of 1990. Jackson was looking to reach a younger audience and found great chemistry with Teddy Riley, the creator of New Jack Swing, who had already produced hit records for The Jacksons, Heavy D, Doug E. Fresh, Bobby Brown, and his own group Guy. Riley produced half of the album which went on to sell 32 million copies worldwide and 7 million in the United States. There were elements of hip-hop that were present in Jackson’s music for the first time and the success of those records led to future experiments within the culture. Here are the Top 5 collaborations with Michael Jackson and hip-hop:
5. Michael Jackson featuring Wreckx-N-Effect – “She Drives Me Wild”
As a smart businessman, Riley made sure to include his group Wreckx-N-Effect on Jackson’s album so they could reach a broader audience. Riley’s production is crazy as it consists of carnival music and even a honking car’s horn in the beat but the results are impressive. Wreckx –N-Effect provide a brief rap verse that works well at the conclusion of the track.
4. Michael Jackson featuring Eve – “Butterflies (Remix)”
Produced by the Trackmasters and featuring the self-acclaimed “pitbull in a skirt,” a less aggressive Eve was added to the remix of the original track that appeared on Jackson’s 2001 “Invisible” album. Jackson’s lyrics were written by Andre Harris and Marshia Ambrosius, a member of Floetry. Eve provides one verse at the beginning of the track and another at the end to prove that she could be romantic while still being the aggressive lead female emcee of DMX’s Ruff Ryder’s crew.
3. Michael Jackson featuring Jay-z – “Rock My World (Remix)”
Jay-Z’s introduction on another Trackmaster’s remix is timeless as he enters the song announcing himself and the gloved one as “the Mike Jordan of rap, Mike Jackson of pop.” Jay and Jackson actually worked closely together on this one as Hova asks MJ to “holla” and MJ responds by saying, “I don’t think they are ready for this one.” The only disappointing part of the remix is that as Jay starts to really get into his second verse it abruptly comes to a halt when he urges listeners to clap.
2. Michael Jackson featuring Heavy D – “Jam”
The release of the “Jam” video was just as epic as the collaboration between Michael Jackson and Heavy D. This wasn’t Heavy’s first time collaborating with a famous Jackson as he already dropped a hot verse on Janet’s “Alright” song and video two years prior. But this video had so much publicity behind it as it featured Jackson taking Michael Jordan one-one-one on the basketball court and then teaching the MVP how to dance at the end of the video. The video made its debut on the Fox network after an episode of “The Simpsons” and the making of the video was featured on NBC’s “NBA Inside Stuff” hosted by Ahmad Rashad. Heavy D’s verse was significant in helping hip-hop reach new heights. Look closely at a guest appearance by Kriss Kross and Naughty by Nature dancing behind Heavy as he raps.
1. Michael Jackson featuring the Notorious B.I.G. – “This Time Around”
By the time Jackson released “HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book 1” in 1995 he didn’t care about what people thought about him as he used the word “shit” twice while Biggie adds “nigga” twice for good measure. On the track produced by Dallas Austin, Christopher Wallace’s verse is incredible but also eerie. Biggie’s rhymes sound like they could be a sequel to “Warning” as he talks about his phone being tapped and friends robbing him. This unlikely pairing created honest hip-hop that reflected where both artists were in their lives.
Honorable mention: Even though Jackson’s “Serious Effect” collaboration with LL Cool J during the recording of “Dangerous” didn’t make the album’s final cut it’s still memorable. Listen to LL talk to George Lopez about working with the King of Pop.