It’s hard to believe that four years ago today (June 25) the world collectively came to a halt with the tragic news that Michael Jackson had passed away at the age of 50.
Greatly misunderstood and forever missed; the boy from Gary, Indiana went on to be the undisputed King of Pop but not without a series of trials and tribulations.
MJ lives on thanks to his incredible body of work and ample achievements not only in pop culture, but with his international philanthropy.
He holds the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star” in thanks to his support for nearly 40 charitable organizations from hunger in Africa and AIDS awareness to the NAACP and countless children and cancer charities racking in a whopping 500 million in donations.
Check out the man behind the mirror as we pay homage to MJ’s legacy and take a look back at MJ in his own words.
ON HIS MUSIC:
I don’t force it, I let nature take its course. I don’t sit at the piano and think, I’m going to write the greatest song of all time. It doesn’t happen. It has to be given to you. I believe it’s already up there before you are born, and then it drops right into your lap. It’s the most spiritual thing in the world. When it comes, it comes with all the accompaniments, the strings, the bass, the drums, the lyrics, and you’re just the medium through which it comes, the channel. Sometimes I feel guilty putting my name on songs – ‘written by Michael Jackson’ – because it’s as if the heavens have done it already. Like Michelangelo would have this huge piece of marble from the quarries of Italy, and he’d say, ‘Inside is a sleeping form.’ He takes a hammer and chisel, and he’s just freeing it. It’s already in there. It’s already there. – Vibe, March 2001
As a seasoned vet before he reached his teens, MJ actively expressed his concerns for the artists of the future and shared the biggest lesson he had learned in the industry to VIBE Magazine in 2002 before the release of his final full length album, INVINCIBLE. He gave this nugget of advice:
Not to trust everybody in the industry. They’re a lot of sharks. And record companies steal. They cheat. You have to audit them. And it’s time for artists to take a stand against them, because they totally take advantage of [artists]. Totally. They forget that it’s the artists who make the company, not the company who makes the artists. Without the talent, the company would be nothing but just hardware. And it takes a real good talent that the public wants to see.
In MJ’s later years, he spoke candidly about his recent battles with then label – Sony Music while taking shots more specifically at music exec, Tommy Mottola.
During Harlem’s National Action Network alongside Rev. Al Sharpton in 2001, the private pop star discussed his personal disputes with Sony and exposed his concerns for the overall treatment of black artists and their rights in the music industry:
The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists. They steal, they cheat, they do everything they can, especially [against] the black artists. … People from James Brown to Sammy Davis Jr., some of the real pioneers that inspired me to be an entertainer, these artists are always on tour, because if they stop touring, they would go hungry. If you fight for me, you’re fighting for all black people, dead and alive. [ VIEW VIDEO ]
Despite the scandal and harsh and constant criticism he faced, Jackson managed to be a star of unprecedented magnitude but was shockingly humbled in his talents and praised a higher power for his achievements (unlike many of the artists of today that take on more of a boisterous approach to their work).
What can I do but bring forth the talent that God gave me? That’s all I wanted to do. To share the love and gift of entertainment. That’s all I want to do. I don’t want to hurt anybody. – MJ during a Steve Harvey Radio Interview, 2002
With a legacy that lives strong now four years after his passing, the music and message of MJ shows no signs of slowing down as a pop culture icon and trendsetter, not only in style but in substance as a true humanitarian and artist.
If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can he dealt with. A professor may degrade you, but you will not feel degraded, a boss may crush you, but you will not be crushed, a corporate gladiator might vanquish you, but you will still triumph. How could any of them truly prevail in pulling you down? For you know that you are an object worthy of love. The rest is just packaging.
REST IN PEACE MJ