Eight previously unheard Michael Jackson songs will be released on a new album in May, Epic Records announced Monday.
The late pop icon’s music has been “contemporized” by several producers who Epic Chairman L.A. Reid believes have the “gravitas, depth and range to creatively engage with Jackson’s work,” the announcement said.
Fans can preorder the new album, titled “Xscape,” on iTunes starting Tuesday, but it will be in stores around the world on May 13, the company said.
Jackson died at age 50 on June 25, 2009, while preparing for his “This Is It” comeback tour.
“Michael left behind some musical performances that we take great pride in presenting through the vision of music producers that he either worked directly with or expressed strong desire to work with,” Reid said.
Timbaland is the lead producer, with contributions from Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon and Jackson estate executor John McClain, the release said. Timberland had previously revealed he was working on the project for Epic.
The album title is derived from one of the new singles. Jackson and Jerkins co-wrote and co-produced the song “Xscape,” which Jerkins “contemporized” for the project, the company said.
Sony’s Columbia Epic Records — Jackson’s record label for three decades — signed a long-term deal with Jackson’s estate to posthumously release music from the large archives of his recordings.
Reid “was granted unlimited access to the treasures representing four decades of material on which Jackson had completed his vocals,” the announcement said.
The Epic release included a quote from Jackson estate co-executors John Branca and John McClain supporting the new album. “Michael was always on the cutting edge and was constantly reaching out to new producers, looking for new sounds. He was always relevant and current. These tracks, in many ways, capture that spirit. We thank L.A. Reid for his vision.”
“New” music is not always met with a warm reception from fans and the Jackson family. Some questioned the authenticity of the vocals on a 2010 album, although the estate and the record company said sound experts verified Jackson’s voice.