The Phenomenon of Michael Jackson
Imagine you are a top selling artist or some band looking to come up in the R&B industry. You’ve got your hands full of those unstoppable melodies of the Temptations, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Righteous and Chambers Bros., Sly and the Family Stone, Smokey’s Miracles – all of the great tones and arrangements, vocals. All of the music legends that make hit records.
And along comes a band of brothers last name Jackson who dance to a choreographed routine while two of the front men are playing instruments of rhythmic complications requiring touch (because the notes have to be played clean and concise) combined with graceful spins and constant synchronicity and of course singing and harmony.
How many musicians had you ever really seen doing such a thing?
As if that wasn’t enough, the baddest of these five brothers (with afros, bell bottoms, smiles and soul) is the baby, Michael Jackson, who is singing with the meanest cleanest purest tone, a range so freakin stellar that you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, “Now, what am I gonna do for a living?”
This child with a wardrobe so funking cool, how could you look away, especially when he’s dancing like James Brown and singing with James Brown power vocals. But as soft as Diana Ross’s tone when asked to. I mean….
I was a child when I first listened to Michael Jackson.
And the first time I did, I really thought something was wrong with my radio. I knew it wasn’t the sound of The Impossibles, The Archies, or Josie and the Pussycats. And then me and my sisters saw the J5 perform on the Ed Sullivan show and, well, we danced.
After the show was over and the TV had been turned off, we still kept dancing to no music. And of course we had to start a singing group. As a child of meager means, I can’t tell you the joy of my first record. It was a Jackson Five record we cut off the back of an ALPHABETS cereal box and we didn’t even like the cereal.
Listen, don’t hate no more on Michael Jackson.
He is one of America’s most beautiful assets. You want to know why so many were moved by his passing? If you really look at his life its readily apparent.
We used to have jam-a-thons at our kids birthday parties and get-togethers. We had a contest over who could do the best “James Brown dance”, which was no easy task for anyone – since we could all get down. We would quickly figure out who imitated James the best and soon enough whoever that was would gain the notoriety. Once in a while a little girl would out James Brown you, but we could live with that.
Here’s the thing: Michael did James Brown better than any of us ever dreamed. So when we saw that on TV, we just dropped our jaws and stared. He sang better than Marvin, Smokey, Diana and James Brown, because he sang to us kids. And to our kids voices.
Look at the combined voices he sang with and the movements that he embodied. Instead of just us Nubian-Kemmites dancing to his beats, Michael had all nationalities by the tens of thousands doing his routine simultaneously around the world breaking world records in organized dance therapy!
Swallow that whole people. How many little white girls had a secret crush on Michael and couldn’t go to school with him tattooed all over their clothes. But if you read their diaries or saw their bedrooms with all the Michael and Jermaine posters, you knew Donny Osmond didn’t have a chance. No disrespect to the Osmonds or any great groups of the era but they didn’t have all the weapons the J5 had, and who did?
Want to hear the voice of an angel. Go to YouTube and listen to the A ccapella version of “I’ll Be There.”
If you want to hear a funk angel, listen to the A cappella version of “The Love You Save.”
I dare you. As a matter of fact, I double dare you.
Hear his inhalations prior to transforming the air around him into a sonic blast. D.C. Comics had a black super-powered teenager called Tyrak (the screamer in the Legion of Superheroes series) and you know Mike is the blueprint for that. Listen to his voice resonate through the room and bounce off the ceiling into the heads of the recorder. The sound engineers must have been high as the friendly skies after this kid did it to them.
Say what you will about dad Joe Jackson but he raised his son to be a merciless angelic brutal soulful executioner when it came to harnessing the gifts God gave him.
But let’s talk about Michael the Superstar. Imagine being chased by throngs of girls whose only desire is to take a piece of you home with them. They were not about to stand around patiently waiting for a kiss from the kid. They wanted a souvenir, an arm a leg, a tongue, a shirt sleeve, or whatever was left after the mob finished with him.
If you think for a moment, it might have been horrifying to a child who began his career at seven. But we don’t think, we judge. Imagine not being able to go to a convenience store, a movie theatre, KFC, the library, parks or for a walk without stopping traffic and causing a riot. It’s lonely at the top. Nobody wants to talk to you, rather they want to talk about you. Finding good company is difficult under those circumstances.
The only people who don’t trip on you are children. Their attention spans are just short enough. They dismiss your long recording career, your innovative dance, your giving heart, and forget that you hung from a limb in a tree house at 39 years old. They are open and don’t have a hidden agenda like their parents do. So you might just relate to them more than your Hollywood friends.
I never saw Michael live before he performed in Wimberley Stadium, London, in 1987 and, at first, I didn’t think I was missing much because I grew up watching him on TV. Soul Train, American Bandstand. How much better could it be, I wondered. So I watched it. Damn. The man made me cry at home watching a concert on TV.
He stood facing to the side, not to his audience, as the curtain rolled open. Then as they cheered, he turned his head slowly and faced them, and they went stark, raving berserk. I never saw that happen for one dude. Grown men were being carried out of the concert on stretchers. Girls were crying with happiness. Be honest with yourself. If you had that many men or women who would bend over for you, how many children would you have out of wedlock? How many lewd things might you do simply because you could?
The question is: If you had that kind of power, would you use it for evil or good? In my view, Michael used it for good. There were endless visits to children’s hospitals, the free Neverland Ranch escapades for the underprivileged, and other countless acts of charity.
As far as I’m concerned, Michael abused none of us fans. When those guys in LA came after our national treasure we should have rescued him, protected him, embraced him as ours more than ever. Instead, we sent him to Hollywood and they sent him to the New Face Deli for a make-over and we hardly even recognized him after that, but the messages in his music grew leaps and bounds with the writing of Rod (Heatwave) Temperton and the legendary production of Quincy Jones, musicianship of Eddie Van Halen, etc.
Read the album credits and marvel at the guest musicians.
Dammit America. We sent Michael the way of the American bald eagle. To extinction.
In my view, “Man in the Mirror,” was written by Michael about the United States. Here’s the thing with that song …Who’s “The Man”? Well, who’s in control? Who trains professionals to shoot an unarmed black man 40 times? Who has our youth locked up with long sentences while providing no alternatives to curb paralyzing economic trends? Who uses the CIA and Army to arm criminals? “The Man” that’s who. “Gonna make a change, for once in my life.”
It seems to me that the United States apologizes for very little of the harm its done. It doesn’t even force itself to rename the U.S. capitol’s football team, (The Redskins in 2010!) nor make reparations to entire peoples who have been wronged in the name of progress. “It’s gonna feel real good…Make that change.”
But back to the sad ending of Michael Jackson. We got to be the best fans in the world and we behaved as a media mob, casting judgment prior to his trial for alleged child abuse, petitioning children’s rights organizations to go after this man and when he settled out of court we pronounced him guilty for not remaining in custody.
Could you imagine him incarcerated? Nothing but untrained speculation from all minds and eyes ? “Hey Mike this, hey Mike that, blah, blah. Sign this. Moonwalk the second tier Mike.”
Who would be a jury of his peers for cryin out loud? The Hilton girl? P-Ditty, Beyonce and Oprah? Green day and Linkin Park or The Banana Splits?
Michael Jackson aint never died. He just ascended to another level like the best music always does.
Groomed to be an accomplished dealer of funky music from childhood, T’challah has studied all genres of music as an avid listener and drummer, guitarist and singer. He began Dee-Jaying parties at eight years old. He graduated from Essex County College where he majored in communications. T’challah has done approximately sixty weddings and 105 award ceremonies. A graduate from The Center for Media Arts with their “Golden Ear” Award, T’challah studied to become a recording and video engineer. He has worked for Hype Williams and Erik White as a live sound engineer and on videos for successful Rap Artist D.M.X., Ja-rule, and Nelly. He’s currently producing Hip-Hop and R&B acts with Erik White and Michael “Moon” Reuben.