Friday, June 26, 2009

The Thrill Is Gone

Michael Joseph Jackson
August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

There will be literally millions of blogs about Michael Jackson written in the coming days. There are probably thousands already going up. Some people will probably get tired of hearing his name. Well, guess what? Too fucking bad. Go dig a hole and climb in it, because the Greatest Performer In Existence just passed away.

My mind is in a million different directions right now. I guess right now many from my generation are reeling, trying to understand that Michael is gone. Now, there are a lot of people right now who can't help themselves, they are compelled to point out the controversy in MJ's life. We all know the story. The truth is, he was acquitted. Beyond that, we don't know what the real story was. No, I am not excusing it. What I am saying is that now, it doesn't matter. Because no matter what actually happened, that will not change the things that came before.

As I said, I'm a little angry right now. I wish there was an internet around when Elvis died so we could have blasted people for crying when he passed away, the big, fat, drug-addicted vampire racist that he was. Nobody was there to spit in the face of his musical accomplishments. His music that was symbolically and literally stolen from Black people. But I'm not trying to go negative. I got too much on my mind.

My Lil' Ace Killa Bill hit me up today, he couldn't understand what was going on with his mom. He said to me "She's crying like she knew him." He really couldn't understand what the big deal was... sadly, most children from nowadays will never be able to get it, because the very nature of celebrity has changed. Before all the drama of the past few years, there was no-one bigger than Michael. There will never be another like him. Michael could premiere his videos on national television at a time when there WAS no MTV. Hell, if there was no Michael Jackson, there might not even be an MTV, not in the scope that it is now. People forget there was a time when MTV wouldn't play Black artists. They WOUDLN'T. Hard to believe, huh? Until BET came along, we had no outlet. Michael was the person that made MTV change that policy. MTV had to play "Billie Jean", and play it a LOT. They couldn't afford not to. Every emcee who has a dream of seeing his video on MTV, you owe that dream to one Black man. Michael Jackson snatched the "No Coloreds Allowed" sign right off MTVs door.

I've listed my HipHop influences many times in my blog, and I've never mentioned MJ. There's a reason for that... nobody has to mention Michael, because he's a foregone conclusion. He influenced us all. I was shocked when I heard about his death, but as the day has gone on, I have become increasingly more depressed when I realized just how significant his music was in my life. The very moment I decided that I wanted to perform, that I wanted to sing, I was sitting in front of a record player, listening to a Jackson 5 album. Puff said it himself, "Michael made me believe that I could see the music." Michael Jackson started perfoming when he was five years old. His entire life, as soon as he was able to communicate, he did nothing but perform and influence. Without Michael, there would be no Beyonce, no Usher, no Justin Timberlake, no Ne-Yo, no Ginuwine, no Lloyd, no Missy Elliot, no Puff... no New Edition, no New Kids On the Block, no Danity Kane, Day 26, I could go on for days. The man influenced an entire generation of performers, literally by the thousands.

So many memories of Michael.

The night he totally wrecked the American Music Awards.

His "Motown 25" Performance.

The first time he Moonwalked.

The video for "Billie Jean"

The first time we heard "Beat It".

The premiere of the "Thriller" video.

When "Moonwalker" came out.

I remember being 11 years old, being in the 6th Grade, and having a crush on Kathy Driver. I had my first Walkman, and I had the "Thriller" album (on cassette) which I'd replaced for the 3rd time. I remember sitting on top of the church garage next to my house, I would climb up on top of it by climbing the tree in my yard and walking the 6-ft fence, then climbing up on the roof. I sat up on that roof and sang "Lady In My Life" and "Human Nature", just singing my heartache away. In the 8th Grade, my chorus class sang "Man In The Mirror", and the very first part of the song was a solo. "I wanna make a change, for once in my life.... it's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference... gonna make it right." I fought like hell to get that solo. Never cared about any other solo before that, even though I was the best in the class, I knew it. Just didn't care about any other solo until that one came along. I wanted it. I got it.

Another good friend of mine who accidentally killed himself (shot himself in the head with a gun he didn't know was loaded... I had to carry the sofa to the trash pile with his brains on it), Eldridge Cleaver. Huge Michael Jackson fan, and one of the most naturally gifted dancers I've ever known @ the age of 13. (That's a big statement, because I'm a former b-boy. I knew a lot of dancers. Hell, I can still moonwalk as good as Michael right now). He knew the entire routine from "Smooth Criminal", down to every hand gesture. I used to love to watch El do that routine. I'd make him do it for everybody, he was so good at it. Whenever I saw that video, it reminded me of him. I hope that Eldridge is doing that routine with Michael somewhere right now, and I mean that dead ass.

I loved Michael Jackson. I hated Michael Jackson. I was proud of Michael Jackson. I was ashamed of Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was a superstar. Michael Jackson was human. Michael Jackson was the soundtrack to my youth. The kids nowadays don't "get" it because they've been raised in a fast-food, on-demand, text messaging, point-and-click-gimme-dat society. Nothing can or will endure the way that "Thriller" did. Nobody will ever do what Michael did. 750 million records sold worldwide. Michael Jackson was a sacrificial lamb for the Cult Of Personality. His father beat success into him and his brothers, and then the world crucified him for his actions later on. Sins of the Father? Could be. We'll never really know. But right now I'm mourning the loss of the Man Who Would Be King. That's what I'll call him from now on. Fuck you, Elvis. Michael gets that name now.

The King is Dead. Long Live The King.

"If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change."

-ere'bodee's favorite mega


She Hate Me said...


Do you know how many times I almost broke my neck trying to do the Smooth Criminal lean? How I obsessed over the Thriller video to learn the dance steps? How many times I tried to spin into golden sand? (Heh)

MJ influenced everybody. Your concerts? MJ. Your video premiers? MJ. Your dancing? MJ. MTV? Michael Joesph Jackson.

A lot of people know that "Video Killed The Radio Star" was the first video MTV played. What a lot of people didn't know was that Billie Jean saved MTV, because at the time, NOBODY WAS WATCHING. Of course, Madonna came with the second punch, but MJ threw the first.

MTV owes it's existence to MJ, just as much as Usher does, just as much as Omarion does, just as much as Chris Brown does, just as much as any other dancing/singing R&B act out here.

I'm sorry I'm being long winded, it's just that I love MJ. His music, his dancing, everything. And you brought back all the good memories of him. Thanks, Tango.

Long Live The King.

TangoMega said...

hey, I never mind long comments. That just means I struck a nerve, I hit on something that resonated, and I always appreciate that. Thanks for coming through and sharing your memories like everyone will probably be doing the world over. We lost a Great One... quite possibly the Greatest Of All Time, but most certainly the Greatest Of Our Time.

ikediggety said...

a few things.

first, i'm genuinely sorry for your loss. i remember what it felt like for me when elliot smith and curt cobain died, and it's clear you feel the same way.

i will contest a few things though.

let's not forget that mtv, for the first few years of it's existence, was a channel that made money by charging people to watch commercials. that's what music videos are - commercials designed to sell a product. and while i'm positive that plenty of racists have - and still do - work there, there has never been a single creative or artistic decision made at that place. only marketing ones. personally, i wish mj hadn't saved mtv.

there will be another thriller. records are broken all the time, this one will be too.

everybody talks about the way mj revolutionized dance like it has anything to do with music. again, this is something i feel is a negative. yes, he was an incredible dancer and entertainer, but that's a very different thing than being a great musician. i mean, howdy doody was an entertainer. i like to see music as bringing some dignity to an entertainment industry that sorely lacks it.

and, as much as i loved thriller, this is the single biggest thing i'll remember about mj. of all the things his father took from him, his sense of dignity, any innate sense that maybe he was better off without the sensationalism and the tabloid attention, was non-existent in his life. not only did he lead the way for a new generation of talentless entertainers excusing their musical emptiness with dance moves, but his relentlessly misguided and clumsy attempt at self-promotion at the expense of his dignity tragically blazed the way for the e! channel, for jerry springer. you're pretty pissed off at perez hilton - when mj started feeding the tabloids bizarre stories of his personal life, he CREATED perez hilton.