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Producer Timbaland working on Michael Jackson music, says DJ

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It’s been an intriguing week for Michael Jackson fans as speculation continues regarding the potential release of new music from their idol.

What started as a buzz has now become a rumble, with Timbaland being added to the list of producers and artists who’re working on the King of Pop’s unreleased music.

Timbaland, who never had the chance to work with Jackson during his life, is best-known for his collaborative efforts with Missy Elliott and Justin Timberlake.

DJ Freestyle Steve, Timbaland’s official DJ, revealed that Timbaland had shown him some of the Jackson tracks he has recently been working on.

“So last night I heard some of the new tracks @Timbaland is doing for the King of Pop… WOW!” said the DJ via Twitter.

“To all the Timbaland & Michael Jackson fans; just know Tim did an amazing job with Mike’s vocals. The world will love it,” he later added.

This comes merely days after a number of other prominent music identities had offered similar sentiments, including Fred Jerkins, Max Methods and Justin Bieber.

The hype began seven days ago, on August 11, 2013 when Fred Jerkins III, brother of Rodney Jerkins and part of the “Darkchild” team, announced that unreleased tracks from their 1999-2001 collaborative sessions with Jackson were being prepared for a mysterious new project.

“We have a number of unreleased songs and all sorts of video footage,” stated Jerkins.

“There’s a project in the making right now that will include all those songs. I worked with him for two years exclusively – it’s the biggest highlight of my career.”

Next came the leak of “Slave To The Rhythm” – an unreleased Michael Jackson track from 1990 – which was recently recorded by pop sensation Justin Bieber.

Bieber’s contribution was then compiled with Jackson’s original vocal and remixed as a duet.

“Excited for what is to come. MJ set the bar. Not only for music but for being an entertainer and how you treat the fans. Wish he was here… Big things ahead!” tweeted Bieber to his 43 million followers.

Max Methods, the DJ who produced the Jackson / Bieber duet, also weighed in via Twitter.

“I have so much respect for The [Michael] Jackson Estate and it was an honor to work on this record, but it’s unfortunate that the record leaked before it was ready.”

However, despite Max Methods’ shout out to them via Twitter, The Michael Jackson Estate quickly flexed their muscle on the issue, claiming that the Jackson / Bieber duet was not unauthorized and that no plans were in place to release the track.

It has also been well-documented for quite some time now that three Jackson duets with Queen legend Freddie Mercury, originally recorded thirty years ago at the King of Pop’s home studio in Encino, will be released later this year.

“There are a few items in progress. We will have something for folks to hear in a couple of months’ time, hopefully,” stated Queen guitarist, Brian May, in late July, 2013.

May, with the permission of The Michael Jackson Estate, has been collaborating on the tracks with band mate Roger Taylor and producer William Orbit; reportedly adding new guitar solos and vocal harmonies.

It is unclear in what capacity the Jackson / Mercury duets will be released. However, with the ever-growing talk of unreleased Jackson music being worked on, and the leak of “Slave To The Rhythm” featuring new vocals from Justin Bieber, the duets album that was once rumoured to be on Sony and The Estate’s agenda has again become a topic of discussion.

As covered in a previous article, around the time that the Estate’s first posthumous album, Michael, was released by Sony Music in late 2010, there was talk that the follow-up MJ project would be a complete album of virtual 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 in a radio interview 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 in a 2007 interview with Ebony Magazine.

“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.”

Are you excited to hear what Timbaland will do with Michael Jackson’s unreleased music? Would YOU like to see an album of posthumously-produced Michael Jackson duets released? Discuss below…


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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12 Comments

  1. David Jackson

    August 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I’m not sure what to think about this.. I like Timbaland working on Michael’s songs because I think he’s a good producer. On the other hand, I’m not sure whether this is what Michael would’ve wanted. A duets album is a very bad idea and I’m hoping the Estate won’t do that. I think it’s disrespectful to Michael’s legacy to have people with whom he never worked with record his songs.

  2. Sattapaal

    August 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Good article Damien. Although it is good to hear MJ again, those older fans dont want to hear the voice of today. Its going to be hard for the likes of Darkchild and Timberland to create timeless pieces of work with the master tapes. But hey ho.

  3. jason rodgers

    August 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I personally i think its great news,bring it all on,duets,justin bieber……..Timbaland,hell i think the Justin Bieber track was fantastic,some fans need to stop hating for the sake of hating…..duets is a precarious subject because simply its all down to personal taste….but music wise its very promising and along as we don’t get any more Cascio tracks then its all good in the hood for me…..Good article though.

  4. Tristan

    August 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Not excited in the slightest. Excellent article though. Thanks.

  5. Taylor Jackson

    August 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    These artists need to leave MJ’s work alone. Period. MJ is not here to approve them. Why can’t they just be released the way they are?

  6. Taaj

    August 20, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Not happy, typical of Branca to lie about the Bieber blooper!

    Leave his art alone, stop diluted it with others that could never match the Kings talent,

    Love you articles and writing style Damien, but this news makes me feel sick to my stomach!!

    Michael had supposed half million debt when he died, last year head lines were debts have been paid off, yet the the loans on Sony/ATV and Neverland still remain, so WTF did Branca pay off, the 20% Michael supposed wanted to go to charity in his alleged will still remains EMPTY, Branca has $$$ coming in and all going to his army of lawyers, and not to mention his off shore account! Leave his art alone, leave his personal property alone(Which has been sold by Juliens) leave it all alone until his children decide what THEY want done with their fathers art!
    Lv

    • Lly

      August 20, 2013 at 1:23 am

      I 100% agree w/ you Taaj!!

    • Wendy

      August 20, 2013 at 4:35 am

      I agree with you TOO, Taaj. Leave Michael’s craft ALONE. Issue it as is, especially when it’s a complete demo! Have only producers Michael worked with, Trusted and Respected touch the ‘incomplete’ material. #BrancaMustGO

  7. Wendy

    August 20, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Update: Regarding the producers MJ worked with, trusted and respected……. Never mind. #TeddyRiley 🙁

  8. Rachel

    August 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Don’t be hatin, just be happy! Long live the king!

  9. ela

    August 21, 2013 at 5:41 am

    They need to leave STTR alone! that song has MJ’s voice on all verses OH MY FU*king gosh!

  10. Heather

    August 24, 2013 at 12:53 am

    I completely agree with ela, STTR needs no collaboration; it’s perfect with MJ’s vocals alone. I have been waiting and waiting *and* waiting for it to be officially released! Please leave it alone!

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Cascio Tracks

First Amendment Coalition to Support Sony and the Jackson Estate in Fake Songs Lawsuit

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There has been yet another twist in the class action lawsuit filed by Californian consumer Vera Serova against Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson regarding three allegedly fake songs commercially released on the 2010 Michael album.

In documents filed with the California Supreme Court yesterday, an organisation called The First Amendment Coalition has requested permission to file an amicus brief in support of Sony and the Estate’s purported constitutional right to sell fake songs as authentic Michael Jackson material.

FAC’s request comes after four separate amici were filed in support of plaintiff Serova by several consumer protection groups along with the California Attorney General’s Office.

All previously filed briefs support Serova’s assertion that this is a straightforward case of false advertising, and that billion-dollar corporations should not be able to commercially label fake art as authentic.

They also assert that by filing an anti-SLAPP motion against Serova, Sony and the Estate misappropriated a statute which is supposed to protect the general public against the limitless resources of wealthy corporations, and to prevent those corporations from intimidating the public into abandoning legal action against them.

Nine consumer protection organisations stated in a joint filing that Sony and the Estate have misused the anti-SLAPP statute to achieve the exact opposite of its intended purpose.

But according to documents filed yesterday, The First Amendment Coalition believes that if the Supreme Court rules in plaintiff Serova’s favour, and if a precedent is set that Sony and the Estate cannot sell fake songs as authentic Jackson material, it could have “significant implications for many different First Amendment contexts beyond the particular circumstances of this case.”

In this case, Sony asserts that they should not be held accountable for the statements made on the Michael album cover and in their television commercial, because those statements were “noncommercial” in nature. Rather, they argue, those statements are merely their contribution to the ongoing public debate about whether the vocals on three of the songs were authentic or fake, and that this makes it free speech under the First Amendment.

FAC has indicated that they will stand with Sony on this matter.

According to the mission statement published on their website, FAC is a nonprofit public interest organisation dedicated to “advancing free speech” and “public participation in civic affairs.”

By definition, public participation in civic affairs is a process in which members of society take collective action to address issues of public concern.

This begs the question: Is the definition of FAC’s mission more appropriately applied to a multi-billion dollar corporation’s purported right to claim that a commercial product is legit, when in fact it is fake? Or to a member of the public who seeks to take collective action to address the issue of that multi-billion dollar corporation falsely advertising that same product to millions of unwitting consumers?

Despite Sony and the Estate’s best efforts to stop her, the plaintiff in this case (Miss Serova) is a member of society who is attempting to take collective action (by filing a class action lawsuit) to address an issue of public concern (that a corporation may be defrauding consumers).

Moreover, FAC’s mission statement also claims to advocate for a “more open and accountable government” and “the people’s right to know”.

It should be noted that the Californian government is in fact advocating for openness and accountability and for the public’s right to know in this case – on behalf of the plaintiff, against the billion-dollar corporation that has conceded in its legal arguments to have ripped her off.

For the purposes of this proceeding, defendants Sony and the Estate have stipulated that the songs in question are indeed fake. And while their exact arguments aren’t due to be filed with the court until March 10, 2021, in the context of the defendants’ concessions, FAC could, in theory, be perceived to be advocating in favour of fraudulent representation of forged art, rather than for openness and accountability and the people’s right to know.

In a press release issued on January 29, 2021, the California Attorney General said:

“Products must deliver on their claims. If someone buys an album from a recording artist, they should expect that the songs on the album were made by that artist unless noted otherwise… We must hold companies accountable to stand by their products. Companies have a First Amendment right to communicate, but their claims must be informed and accurate.”

More to come when FAC files their amicus brief.

A podcast series called Faking Michael is in the works, detailing a decade-long investigation of this case. You can subscribe to Faking Michael on Apple PodcastsSpotify and YouTube.


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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Californian Government Joins Fraud Lawsuit Against Sony Music and Jackson Estate

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The California state government has officially joined a class action lawsuit against Michael Jackson’s estate and record company.

In a press release issued yesterday, the state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, accuses Sony of “shirking responsibility” for making “false and misleading claims” about a posthumously released Michael Jackson album, and then declaring ignorance of their misrepresentation.

The Attorney General also filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court, urging them to intervene in the case of Serova vs Sony Music Entertainment, et al., for fear that “broad, destabilising consequences for well-established false advertising principles,” could be felt if it did not take action and rectify a problematic Appeals Court decision in the case.

The lawsuit at the centre of the amicus brief was filed almost 7 years ago. The suit alleges that Sony Music and the Jackson Estate misled consumers when they commercially released the Michael album, comprising 10 tracks, in December 2010.

The plaintiff in the case, Vera Serova, insists that three of the 10 tracks on Michael are part of an elaborate artistic fraud masterminded by co-defendants Eddie Cascio and James Porte, who sold the tracks to Jackson’s Estate for millions of dollars after the superstar’s death. 

Serova alleges that those three tracks, known as the Cascio tracks, are fakes sung by an impostor. And she’s not alone.

Months before the album was released, members of the Jackson family warned Sony and the Estate regarding the Cascio tracks, insisting that they were fakes and should not be released. One of the Estate’s co-executors, John McClain, agreed with the Jackson family.

In response, Sony issued a press release stating that they had “complete confidence in the results of their extensive research” that the vocals were authentic. The company then released the album, including three Cascio tracks, against the family’s wishes.

Sony even went as far as to explicitly inscribe on the album cover that the vocals on all the album’s tracks were “performed by Michael Jackson.”

But despite Sony’s repeated assurances that the vocals were legit, when Jackson’s fans got their hands on the album and heard the Cascio tracks for themselves, a huge controversy ensued. Thousands upon thousands of fans around the world instantly rejected them as fakes.

Ironically, this very controversy – which Sony itself created by releasing the Cascio tracks – is one of the many points the company has since tried to raise as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Sony says that because thousands of people were questioning the authenticity of the vocals, the company’s claim that Jackson sang them was not commercial in nature, but merely their non-commercial contribution to the ongoing authenticity debate.

But the Attorney General argues that Sony’s logic is absurd. The fact that there were questions over the vocals, the AG says, only increased Sony’s need be sure that the songs were indeed authentic if they intended on claiming they were:

“Questions about the authenticity of songs allegedly recorded by Michael Jackson shortly before his death naturally led to significant interest and debate among fans, members of the media, and the public more generally. That level of interest made it all the more important for Sony to provide accurate information about the songs to consumers.”

The AG added: “It would seriously frustrate the State’s interest in combating false or misleading advertising to immunise a seller from liability merely because its claims bear some relation to a matter of public interest or a public figure.”

Moreover, the Attorney General completely rejects Sony’s claims that their speech wasn’t commercial in nature.

Because the album cover explicitly stated that the songs were “performed by Michael Jackson,” Sony was bound to that statement as being the truth, and could be held liable under consumer protection laws if it were proven otherwise.

“A seller’s description of a product on a label or in an advertisement is a classic form of commercial speech. Thus, assuming Serova’s allegations are true, application of California’s false advertising statutes fully comports with the First Amendment.”

In the press release issued yesterday to alert the media of the California state government’s support of Serova’s lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra said: 

“Products must deliver on their claims. If someone buys an album from a recording artist, they should expect that the songs on the album were made by that artist unless noted otherwise… We must hold companies accountable to stand by their products. Companies have a First Amendment right to communicate, but their claims must be informed and accurate.”

Sometime in mid-February the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office is due to join the California Attorney General and the nine other consumer protection groups already supporting Serova’s case. No amicus brief has been filed in support of Sony or the Jackson Estate.

A date for the oral hearing of these briefs is yet to be set.

A podcast series called Faking Michael is in the works, detailing a decade-long investigation of this case. You can subscribe to Faking Michael on Apple PodcastsSpotify and YouTube.


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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Fake Michael Jackson Songs Lawsuit Boosted by Support from Consumer Protection Groups

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A legal quest for justice over a posthumous Michael Jackson album including 3 allegedly-fake songs has received a serendipitous boost on the 10th anniversary of the album’s release.

On Friday, December 11, 2020, the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice filed an amicus curiae brief with the California Supreme Court in support of plaintiff Vera Serova’s ongoing class action consumer fraud lawsuit against Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson.

The powerfully-worded brief was co-signed by 8 additional consumer protection organisations. Click here to read it in full.

Serova’s lawsuit, filed in 2014, alleges that Sony and the Estate misled her and millions of consumers when they commercially released the Michael album on December 14, 2010 – exactly ten years ago today.

The lawsuit alleges that three songs on the album are forgeries sung by an impostor vocalist, and that Sony and the Estate falsely advertised those songs to consumers as authentic Jackson material.

The three songs at the centre of the lawsuit – Breaking News, Monster and Keep Your Head Up – were originally co-written and produced by Eddie Cascio and James Porte, who are co-defendants in the fraud component of the case.

The consumer protection organisations wrote in their joint filing on Friday that Serova’s is a “straightforward case of deceptive advertising.”

Yet the case has been in legal limbo for more than four years.

Back in 2016, Sony and the Estate filed an anti-SLAPP motion against Serova, claiming that her lawsuit was a ‘strategic lawsuit against public participation’ (SLAPP) intended to deny the billion-dollar corporations their purported constitutional right to sell fake songs as authentic Jackson material.

For the purposes of their legal arguments, Sony and the Estate conceded that Jackson was not the singer of the three songs in question. To be clear, this was not an outright admission that Jackson was not singing – after 6 years in court, that issue hasn’t even been addressed yet.

Rather, their concession was made in order to prevent Serova from presenting evidence that the songs are fakes. Under normal circumstances, Serova would have been required to demonstrate that her case wasn’t a shakedown, and that she could substantiate her claims with supporting evidence.

But Sony and the Estate said that it didn’t matter if they were fake, arguing that the law allows them to lie to consumers regardless.

Their argument centres around their assertion that the statements made as part of the album’s promotional material – including on the album cover and in a TV commercial – are not commercial in nature. Yes, they’re arguing that the speech in a commercial isn’t commercial speech.

“If we ripped people off and it’s noncommercial speech, they lose under the statutes,” said Sony lawyer Zia Modabber in court. “That is just the law.”

In August 2018, the corporations succeeded in their bid to be dismissed from the case. Serova fought back, petitioning the California Supreme Court to intervene, which they did. But when the case was sent back to the Appeals Court in January 2020, Sony and the Estate were yet again dismissed.

Shockingly, the Appeals Court ruled that Sony and the Estate should be allowed to lie to consumers by selling fake songs as authentic Jackson material. And so Serova petitioned the California Supreme Court a second time, seeking a review of the Appeals Court’s bizarre ruling.

As reported here in April, the Supreme Court found that the Appeals Court’s ruling was legally problematic and granted Serova’s petition for review.

In their filing on Friday, the consumer protection organisations supporting Serova’s case took aim at Sony and the Estate’s application of the anti-SLAPP statute, writing that it “does not provide a get-out-of-jail-free card to forgers.”

Under the stipulation governing this proceeding, Sony’s promotion of Michael plainly violates California’s statutes protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising. Sony marketed Michael as “a brand new album from the greatest artist of all time,” with “9 previously unreleased vocal tracks performed by Michael Jackson.” Because, as the parties have agreed for purposes of this appeal, three of the nine songs were not sung by Michael Jackson, Sony has made advertising statements that were untrue and misleading and has therefore violated California’s basic consumer protection laws.

Amicus curiae brief, Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice et al., December 11, 2020.

The anti-SLAPP statute is intended to protect David from Goliath – to shield the general public against the limitless funds and resources of wealthy corporations, and to prevent those corporations from intimidating the public into abandoning legal action against them.

The consumer protection organisations state in their filing that Sony and the Estate have misused the anti-SLAPP statute to achieve the exact opposite of its intended purpose:

What the present proceeding entails is the misuse of the anti-SLAPP statute by a well-funded corporation to try to silence individual consumer claims arising from what are conceded to be, for purposes of this appeal, the corporation’s misleading commercial statements. In other words, this action embodies precisely the reverse of what the anti-SLAPP statute is intended to accomplish.

The consumer protection organisations concluded their 47-page filing with the following:

The anti-SLAPP statute must not be misused to undermine California’s consumer protection laws. When Sony promoted Michael, it engaged in misleading or deceptive advertising. Sony has no free speech right to deceive consumers. Ms. Serova’s claim for misleading advertising is not a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” To the contrary: it is a straightforward deceptive advertising action brought to vindicate precisely the individual rights that both California’s consumer protection laws and its anti-SLAPP statute are designed to protect.

The California Attorney General’s Office has also stepped in, requesting an extension to file their own amicus brief in support of Serova.

This means that when the California Supreme Court hears Serova’s case sometime next year, she will not only have the support of at least 9 independent consumer protection organisations, but also the backing of the California state government.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has also joined the chorus of support behind Serova’s case, formally requesting an extension to file an amicus brief on December 14, 2020.

Stay tuned for further updates on the case. This website will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

You can also subscribe to the upcoming Faking Michael podcast series about this matter. A release date has not yet been set, but subscribers will have episodes delivered to them when they do become available.

The trailer for Faking Michael is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and YouTube.


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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