Producer Teddy Riley Says He Was “Set Up” & Apologises For Involvement In Controversial MJ Album!

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World-renowned music producer Teddy Riley has made the explosive claim that he was “set up” when The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music hired him to produce music for the King of Pop’s first posthumous album, Michael, apologising to a fan via Twitter for his involvement in the project.

Riley, who worked on several of Jackson’s landmark albums between 1991 and 2001, recently vented his frustrations about the continued criticism directed at him by fans via Twitter.

On a number of occasions, Riley has used Twitter to strike back at disgruntled fans, defending himself for the work he did on the controversial album which was released on December 14, 2010 – 18 months after Jackson’s death.

This time, however, Riley has openly expressed his displeasure with the way things went down back in 2010, deflecting blame towards another producer, Eddie Cascio, along with Sony and the Estate, for having him work on several tracks which many allege feature a lead vocal sung by a Jackson sound-alike and not Jackson himself.

For those of you not familiar with the controversy, Jackson’s longtime friend, Eddie Cascio, and his collaborative partner, James Porte, claim that Jackson secretly co-wrote and recorded twelve songs in Cascio’s basement in the fall of 2007 – two years before Jackson’s death.

Those tracks are now infamously known as the Cascio tracks.

The Cascio tracks were completely unheard of until eleven months after Jackson’s death, when reporter Roger Friedman broke the news of the existence of the twelve songs.

“Bombshell exclusive,” Friedman wrote in an article published exclusively via his Showbiz411.com website on May 2, 2010. “Michael Jackson recorded a whole new album of material in the fall of 2007.”

Friedman wrote that according to one of his sources who’d heard the material, Jackson’s vocals on the Cascio tracks were “perfect.”

With the assistance of high-profile entertainment attorney Donald Passman, Cascio and Porte quickly struck up a deal with the Jackson Estate and handed the tracks over.

At that time, the Estate was preparing to release its first posthumous album of unreleased Jackson material as part of a 7-year 10-project deal with Sony Music valuable at up to $250 million.

A few months later, Teddy Riley was asked to remix a number of tracks being considered by Sony for that album, including a handful of Cascio tracks.

Between September and November 2010, Riley worked on the music in several Los Angeles-based studios including Marvin’s Room, Encore and The Boom Boom Room, bringing 50 Cent into the studio to rap on a Cascio track while engaging the Benjamin Wright Orchestra for new string arrangements on three Cascio tracks. Jackson’s This Is It guitarist, Orianthi, was also invited to contribute.

Early in the production sessions Riley and members of the Jackson family – including Riley’s close friend Taryll Jackson (Michael’s nephew) – raised concerns about the authenticity of the vocals on the Cascio tracks. They believed that an impostor – not Michael – was singing.

When those concerns were brought to the attention of The Estate, an investigation was launched, including the purported engagement of two independent forensic musicologists.

Estate attorney, Howard Weitzman, also gathered a number of Jackson’s former collaborators at Encore recording studio – including Teddy Riley and Taryll Jackson – to listen to the Cascio tracks and to give their opinion on the vocals.

The general consensus after that meeting was that the Cascio tracks had too many red flags and audio inconsistencies to be authentic. Estate co-executor John McClain expressed that he felt the Cascio tracks should be scrapped, as did Jackson’s family. Even Michael’s mother, Katherine Jackson, was steadfast in her belief that the Cascio tracks were fakes and should not be released.

Eventually, this news started to leak via reports from Roger Friedman and celebrity news site TMZ.

However, despite everything that was going on around him, and despite himself acknowledging the issues with the vocals, Teddy Riley continued to work on the Cascio tracks – something he now seemingly regrets doing.

I didn’t do the funking song I just mixed it. My work speak for itself. Now go to the funking Cascios. I’m sure they got a twitter… I was giving a problem that involved my bestfriend and sign a contract to remix what I had. It was too late for me to turn back so I finished out the project. Now if you want me to apologize for that, yes I’m funkin sorry I did it. Now leave me the hell alone.

Teddy Riley via Twitter on September 2, 2013.

In the end, one of the Riley-produced Cascio tracks, “Breaking News,” was chosen by Sony and The Estate as the teaser for the Michael album, premiering at michaeljackson.com at midnight New York time on November 8, 2010.

As the full “Breaking News” track went live, members of the Jackson family took to Twitter to raise their voice against the track.

I am shocked that things have gotten this far. This is ridiculous… I tried so hard to prevent this craziness, but they wouldn’t listen. I KNOW my Uncle’s voice and something’s seriously wrong when you have immediate FAMILY saying it’s not him… They can’t give me answers, yet continue to move forward with lies and deception. Sounding like Michael Jackson and BEING Michael Jackson are two different things.

Taryll Jackson via Twitter on November 8, 2010.

There’s many MJ vocal impersonators. Some better than others. But there is only ONE Michael Jackson… Why they would ignore the obvious, look the other way and rush a suspicious track that was NEVER on my Uncle’s radar is beyond me. I’m disgusted, disappointed and saddened… We know how much he valued his legacy and his fans. And cheating either is unacceptable. ‘Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.’

TJ Jackson via Twitter on November 8, 2010.

Prior to hearing “Breaking News,” most Michael Jackson fans dismissed the notion that the vocals would be fake.

But when the track went live on michaeljackson.com on November 8, 2010, all hell broke loose.

Because of his accessibility via social media, Teddy Riley became the target of the fan community’s frustrations, copping a bombardment of insults and scrutiny from people all over the world for his participation in what they deemed to be a fraud.

Initially, Riley defended himself and the songs, stating that he had confidence in the authenticity of the vocals.

This echoed an earlier statement released by Epic Records – the Sony record label set to commercially distribute the Michael album – regarding the controversial songs, insisting that sufficient research had been done and that the label was satisfied with their findings.

We have complete confidence in the results of our extensive research, as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael, that the vocals on the new album are his own.

Sony Music’s Epic Records, November 5, 2010.

The record company had made their position clear. They were taking the word of Eddie Cascio and James Porte over the opinions of Jackson’s family and fans. Not even the wishes of Michael’s mother and children – the beneficiaries of Jackson’s estate – were taken seriously. Neither were those of Estate co-executor John McClain

As the onslaught of angry tweets continued to flow in Teddy Riley’s direction, the producer conceded that while he believed the vocals on the Cascio tracks were indeed Jackson’s, he couldn’t guarantee it.

I was called on this project by the Estate, Sony, and the [Jackson] family co-signed it. These songs are created by the Cascios. I did not original produce his vocals nor these songs. I was called in to mix and finish what I was given… The vocals [that] was given to me from the Cascios was all I had to work with… I’ve answered all that I can answer for MJ fans. The truth of this of it all [is that] no one knows [but] MJ and God… I have nothing more to say and I can’t prove anything.

Teddy Riley via Twitter, November 8, 2010.

Surprisingly, Riley’s concession went largely unnoticed by fans and the media alike.

Then, when Riley gave a series of subsequent radio and television interviews regarding the project, he went back to saying that the vocals were definitely Michael’s.

In addition to his media appearances, Riley’s name was included in a statement released by the Jackson Estate’s lead attorney, Howard Weitzman, in which Weitzman references the listening session Riley attended at Encore recording studio.

Six of Michael’s former producers and engineers who had worked with Michael over the past 30 years – Bruce Swedien, Matt Forger, Stewart Brawley, Michael Prince, Dr. Freeze and Teddy Riley – were all invited to a listening session to hear the raw vocals of the Cascio tracks in question. All of these persons listened to the a cappella versions of the vocals on the Cascio tracks being considered for inclusion on the album, so they could give an opinion as to whether or not the lead vocals were sung by Michael. They all confirmed that the vocal was definitely Michael.

Estate attorney Howard Weitzman on November 11, 2010.

Weitzman’s statement was vigorously contested by Michael’s nephew, Taryll Jackson, and former Sony vice president, Cory Rooney – both of whom were also in that listening session, but whose names and opinions were omitted from the statement.

I have read the statement from the MJ Estate, and I have to say that it’s just more bullshit! I was in that room, and the majority of the people mentioned did not agree that it was MJ! Some felt it sounded like him, but all agree that there was nothing there that was consistent with any MJ habits like finger snaps, headphone bleeding, foot stomping or just simple things like his voice asking for another take. Both Dr. Freeze and Teddy Riley sat with Taryll Jackson and myself and stated that they felt what we felt.

Cory Rooney via Facebook on November 11, 2010.

There are many inaccuracies and omissions in that statement. For one, I was also in that meeting and that was not the outcome. You will hear my story because this is way too important for my Uncle’s legacy. The truth will prevail.

Taryll Jackson via Twitter on November 13, 2010.

As the release of the Michael album approached, Teddy Riley appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, alongside the Cascio family, to defend the authenticity of the tracks.

Riley claimed that Jackson would be loving the controversy regarding the album, assuring Winfrey that vocals on the Cascio tracks were the real deal.

“Why do you say for sure it is him?” asked Winfrey.

Because you can hear the authenticity in his voice and you can hear, like, the natural part of him. And no one can really do a scream like that strong scream on the music that you hear, like Michael. I don’t care if you get anyone. They will never be able to duplicate Michael’s voice.

Teddy Riley via the Oprah Winfrey Show, televised on December 6, 2010.

The only problem with Riley’s statement that ‘no one can do a strong scream like Michael Jackson’ was that the screams heard on the Cascio tracks – i.e. “aow!” and “hoo!” – were actually stolen from previously released Jackson recordings .

This was something that Jackson’s nephews TJ and Taryll addressed in statements via Twitter.

Deceptively merging shady vocals with MJ samples (from prior MJ records) will never fool me.

TJ Jackson via Twitter on November 8, 2010.

When the Michael album was eventually released on December 14, 2010, three Cascio tracks were included.

Two were produced by Teddy Riley – “Breaking News” and “Monster” – the latter of which featured a rap verse by popular rapper 50 Cent.

The third Cascio track included on the Michael album was called “Keep Your Head Up” – a song originally given to Riley to produce, but which chose not to finish.

I remember when Teddy and I were at Encore listening to ‘Keep Your Head Up’. We both knew it wasn’t my Uncle. [Teddy] stopped working on it because (and I quote) ‘it didn’t sound enough like Michael. Michael doesn’t swing like that.’ He also said he was only working on the Cascio records in hopes that he would eventually be given a ‘real Michael Jackson song.’ As he knows, I never agreed with that logic.

Taryll Jackson via Twitter on December 7, 2010.

Hitmaker Tricky Stewart, who never worked with Jackson during his life, completed the mix of “Keep Your Head Up” as it appears on the Michael album.

Since the Cascio fiasco first blew up, Teddy has endured a continued onslaught of negative remarks from Jackson’s fans online, and many insist he deserved it.

However, it seems that now Riley is hoping to turn the tables on Eddie Cascio, James Porte and anyone else involved with the creation of the Cascio tracks, claiming he will be addressing the issue soon.

When asked if he feels betrayed by Cascio and his team for the predicament he ended up in regarding the authenticity of their songs, Riley said in several statements:

It isn’t (fair), but it’s all good. I’ll be able to talk soon…

[Now] isn’t the time. I’m muted, but trust me MJ always gets his just due. He is my bestfriend, bigbro and confidant. Please believe! The truth will set us all free.

I was set up and it will all come out when [my] book comes. That’s all I can say right now.

My book will not be totally about Michael… Just a chapter of my total MJ experience. The times I had working with and without him. I love MJ so much and he knows that. What I’ve been through without him being there I regret, and thats what will be in detail. I hope everyone appreciate and respect that. Thank you so much for your concern. Michael loves everyone, especially his fans that protects him.

Teddy Riley via Twitter in September 2013.

Damien Shields is the author of the book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault examining the King of Pop’s creative process, and the producer of the podcast The Genesis of Thriller which takes you inside the recording studio as Jackson and his team create the biggest selling album in music history.

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