Michael Jackson’s “Slave to the Rhythm” remixed as a duet with Justin Bieber

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A newly remixed version of Michael Jackson’s unreleased track “Slave To The Rhythm” has appeared online, first via Soundcloud and then all over YouTube, featuring new vocals recorded by Justin Bieber.

The track, for which Max Methods is given production credit, has been re-imagined as a duet between Justin Bieber and his idol, the King of Pop.

Reaction among Jackson fans hasn’t exactly been positive, with many of them suggesting a protest to an official release.

“I think we the MJ fan community need to rally together and protest against this disaster of a song before it gets officially released. Why don’t we all contact the estate and show our disapproval? This is disgraceful!” said one fan on a Michael Jackson discussion board.

“I’m gonna be sick,” added another.

At this stage there has been no official word from The Michael Jackson Estate or Sony Music as to whether; a) the duet is official or not, or b) it is being considered for release or not. However, Jackson fans were quick to note that Michael’s vocals on this new version seem to be clearer than on the solo version that leaked in December 2010 (see below), and that the a cappella has been used to create this new mix.

Above: Tricky Stewart’s 2010 production of “Slave To The Rhythm” which was considered for release on the Michael album. Ultimately it did not make the final track listing. Click here if the video does not display for you.

No a cappella of “Slave To The Rhythm” is publicly available, so the person who compiled this duet version with Bieber likely had direct access to the original Jackson vocal track. That seemingly eliminates the possibility that this could merely be a fan-made remix.

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, a producer who collaborated with the King of Pop for two years straight, between 1999 and 2001, has recently been working with Justin Bieber.

Jerkins, who produced Jackson’s “You Rock My World” and Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me,” stated that he felt a Jackson / Bieber duet is something he could have arranged had Michael not passed away.

“I think if Michael [Jackson] was alive I would have been able to make a meeting happen and actually get them to do something together,” said the producer.

Could Jerkins have helped arrange this posthumous duet? (The answer is: No. See update further down) If so, it wouldn’t have been the first time Jerkins has teed up a feature from the grave.

In fact, Michael Jackson’s 2001 Invincible album includes a song called “Unbreakable” – produced and co-written by Jerkins. “Unbreakable” features a verse by Notorious B.I.G – four years after the legendary rapper’s death!

Furthermore, back in late 2010, around the time that the first posthumous Michael Jackson album was released by Sony Music, there was talk that the next MJ project would be a complete album of newly crafted duets.

Teddy Riley, who produced music for Jackson on a number of occasions during his life (including tracks for 1991’s Dangerous album and 2001’s Invincible) stated that because much of Jackson’s unreleased work was incomplete, duets would be built using what was available.

“He would do is go in and do the first verse, and the chorus, and he would not do a second verse,” said Riley of Jackson’s habits when writing or recording demos. “It’s just to get the idea down. So the next album that’s coming, and I don’t want to say too much, but the next album that’s coming is a duet album with a lot of great artists, because he only did first verses.”

This is the way Jackson worked in order to decipher which tracks he felt good about, and which he didn’t.

“What I do when I write is that I’ll do a raggedy, rough version just to hear the chorus, just to see how much I like the chorus,” explained Jackson. “If it works for me that way when it’s raggedy, then I’ll know it will just work … I do that same process with every song. It’s the melody. It’s the melody that’s most important. If the melody can sell me then I’ll go to the next step.”

One of the main sticking points for Michael Jackson fans is that “Slave To The Rhythm” is a track Jackson completed during his life – recording all the lead and backing vocals himself.

“Michael finished it on his own when he was alive. There’s no reason for Justin to be singing on it,” said one fan.

“No future Michael Jackson songs should be released as duets unless the duet was actually recorded with Michael when he was still alive. Slapping modern singers on these unreleased songs is just really disrespectful,” agreed another.

Despite the resistance from the more hardcore Jackson-enthusiasts, if the track were to be released it would almost certainly be a global hit. Justin Bieber’s fans around the world will undoubtedly support anything he puts out, as will many of the King of Pop’s fans.

UPDATE: Shortly following the publication of this article Justin Bieber tweeted the following…

Is Justin’s acknowledgement of the situation a confirmation that the track is official and coming soon?

UPDATE: Rodney Jerkins has confirmed that he had no involvement in the recording, production or leak of this track.

Jerkins was kind enough to offer me the following insights about the track, which was recorded way back in 1990:

“‘Slave To The Rhythm’ was produced by LA Reid and Babyface. I remember MJ played me that song along time ago. It was originally recorded for the Dangerous LP.”

Although Jackson brought the song to Jerkin’s attention during the Invincible recording sessions, the pair did not re-work the track and it was not considered for the album.

“He played it for me one day just to see what I thought. I like the song, but what Michael song don’t I like? I love all his music!”

Regarding the newly remixed version, Jerkins recalled Jackson’s views on the style of music used:

“Michael Jackson didn’t like techno music at all.”

It also appears the producer of the track, Max Methods, has addressed the issue via Twitter. IF the account is legit, the DJ stated the following:

FYI: Until today, the @MaxMethods Twitter account had not posted in more than two years, since February 20, 2011. The account is not verified and only has 268 followers.

To clear things up The Michael Jackson Estate, via their mouthpiece, The MJ Online Team, issued the following statement:

“For those who have been asking about the recently posted recording of “Slave 2 The Rhythm” by Michael and Justin Bieber, this recording was not authorized and has been taken down.”

To give further clarity they later added the following:

“It is unauthorized and therefore there is no intention to release it.” – August 16, 2013

Sony Music Entertainment is continuing to work around the clock to remove dozens of video uploads of the track from YouTube.

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Max Methods, the DJ / producer who remixed Michael Jackson’s “Slave To The Rhythm” as a duet with Justin Bieber, has revealed exclusively to me how the track came to be.

“I work with Tricky Stewart. He signed me to his label Red Zone Ent, and had me re-produce the record,” the DJ told me.

“He also had Justin [Bieber] record new vocals. I do not know how it leaked.” – August 20, 2013

Listen to the Michael Jackson & Justin Bieber duet version of “Slave To The Rhythm” below:

Click here if the video does not display for you.

How would YOU feel if this song was officially released? Discuss below…

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