Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean Director Steve Barron Talks About Working With The Eighties’ Biggest Music Artists In His New Memoir

Sources: The Telegraph – By Rupert Hawksley | Edited By – All Things Michael

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“I was more excited about The Human League,” laughs Steve Barron, as he tells me about the time he was asked to direct the video for Michael Jackson’s hit single, Billie Jean. “I was more disappointed about not doing The Jam’s Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.” This was 1982.

A decade later, the Billie Jean video was inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame and now, some 32 years after the video was released, Barron has written a book, titled Egg ‘n’ Chips and Billie Jean: a Trip Through the Eighties. The music video that least excited Barron has, in many ways, come to define him.

The 58-year-old Dubliner has since directed a number of successful feature length films including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Rat (2000) and the hugely popular Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001), a sequel to which is due to be released next year. He has also been nominated for 27 Emmy Awards and five Golden Globes.

However, it is Barron’s creative output during the Eighties, when he was working with and producing music videos for artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, Dolly Parton, A-ha (Magne Furuholmen from the band designed the artwork for the memoir), Paul McCartney and David Bowie, that forms the basis of this fascinating memoir, released earlier this month.

Was writing the book a cathartic experience?

SB: It was quite a cathartic experience. I wrote it in two chunks; I just went away for some of it and did nothing else for 14 hours a day, which is the best way of doing it.

I imagine all sorts of memories came flooding back…

SB: Memories kept popping out of the woodwork. I’d be writing about a specific day in the Eighties, and suddenly I would be back near the street where I once was with Michael Jackson – La Brea [in Los Angeles]. It’s a very particular street between Highland and Santa Monica that I drove up and down many times. It is almost the route to everywhere: not far from the Chateau Marmont where you’d hang out, [near the] Sunset Marquee, so it seemed to be at the centre of everything. I did once add up that I’d spent a total of four years at the Sunset Marquee during the Eighties.

When I went to write about all of that, I kept driving again and smelling La Brea, which has a very specific, dry smell. It has a smell that is very hard to describe: it’s LA, but it’s dry, dust meets petrol. It was very different to London, which has always got this very familiar, but sort of dank feel.

It was obviously a special time…

SB: Things came together at a certain time; in a certain atmosphere; when, culturally, things were at a certain place. Culture was in a pretty bad way. When you look at movies in the Eighties, we weren’t in great shape, creatively.

And so there was a massive opportunity for something to come along and change, in particular, the rhythms. And we realised that we didn’t have to just do what we’d seen before. We could be open to something completely original or extraordinary. There was a bunch of us who felt that way at the same time, and we began kicking open the door and the door kept opening, so we just piled in and had a great experience creating some absolute rubbish – and some stuff that has stayed around. I am really, really happy that I was there to experience, and lucky enough to experience, that journey through the Eighties.

And how do you feel about the state that culture is in today?

SB: My heart bleeds for music video directors who are trying to get through now on formats such as YouTube. There isn’t an industry, it’s falling away. Whereas we had a massive opportunity, there was a gaping hole to be filled. Right now, such a thing does not exist, there’s just a mass of everything with no holes to fill. You just have to shout louder. And there are some great videos being done that would have won MTV Video of the Year 10 times over back in the day. It is much harder to get appreciated because there is so much noise around. But there is some really great stuff out there.

Let’s go back to how it all started. How did you arrive at a stage when Michael Jackson’s agent is calling you to ask you to direct the video for Billie Jean?

SB: I left school early and became a camera assistant; a tea boy, really. I leaned to make a great cup of tea and got very involved with a lot of good film crews, who were doing a lot of good films. At the time I was really good at the tea and I think I was quite efficient at being perceptive of what might be needed.

Who gave you that first break?

SB: I worked with a film director called Peter Macdonald who was absolutely brilliant. He was involved with Cabaret (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Superman (1978); all these major films. He was a brilliant operator, but he also had a real discipline about him which I’d never really seen.

I’d come out of school where it was all about getting away with what you could, and suddenly I couldn’t get away with anything. If I’d been out late the night before, he’d put me on the crane with the zoom, give me the most tricky job, where I couldn’t move out of my seat because of the balance. I would be hungover as hell. And he would have me doing the most complicated zoom, ending up on a close-up of Michael Caine. That was the best growing up I could do because it was a real discipline for someone who had become unwieldy at school. Even though I was someone who was really young, I was in the know technically, without training, just from observing.

And how did you then make the jump from working on film sets to directing and producing music videos?

SB: I’m hanging out with people like The Jam or Siouxsie and the Banshees. The music’s really interesting and we all tended to end up at the Speakeasy Club, so my social life is around music, not film.

The bands were my mates and they’re all curious about me working on these big movies. There were very few people who were connected in any way to music and film, there really wasn’t a crossover. And suddenly I was on that bridge and, even though I was just loading the film, the music people didn’t know the difference between that and a director. So it was like, ‘can you make one of those films that you’re working on for us?’

What was the first music video you made?

SB: The very first band that I filmed was The Only Ones, for their single Another Girl Another Planet. But the band I first connected with was The Jam. They were becoming really big. I wasn’t friends with them but I’d attempted to film a day at the Reading Festival that they were headlining, and so I met their manager and we filmed some of it. The Jam were aware that I was around trying to put these things together. At the time, what I was producing weren’t even called videos; they were called promotional films. I remember it changing between 1978 and 1980. At first, bands were saying ‘get me one of those promotional films’ and then suddenly it was a case of, ‘get me one of those videos’. It was then that the music video was born.

 

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Michael talks about Billie Jean on a 1999 interview at 9:23

Madame Tussauds And Sketchfab Team Up For 3D Print Of Michael Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Fidel Castro And Others

Sources: 3dPrint.com – By Brian Krassenstein | All Things Michael

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Just like 2D scanners became affordable and mainstream and saw a rapid increase in the quality of their capabilities two decades ago, the same is now happening within the 3D scanner space. If you ever have an opportunity to use a 3D scanner, it’s actually quite fun, and I must say, addictive. Capturing people, moments in time, and all sorts of objects, in a form which will put a picture to shame, the technology promises to transform how we preserve the past.

Already there are tens of thousands of 3D models of scanned objects available for those who wish to view them, or even duplicate them via a 3D printer. As 3D printing technology continues to progress, the ability to replicate cherished objects, museum exhibits, and whatever the heck else you want, will become ever more possible and higher quality.

We’ve already seen several museums jump on board the 3D scanning wave including the Smithsonian, Peabody, and the Met, among others. While almost all the objects have been artifacts and art, the technology is now being used at one of the more interesting museums out there,  Madame Tussauds, to scan people… sort of.

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If any of you have ever wandered into the Madame Tussauds Museum in London, or any of the other branches located in a number of major cities around the world, you may have felt like you were among some of the most important people to ever walk the earth. That’s because in a way you are. The museums feature dozens of famous people, from athletes to presidents to royals and more, all sculpted out of wax, presented as full size statues. The intricate detail of each piece is extraordinary, displaying details which could fool anyone viewing a picture of one of the statues into believing it’s an actual person.

Today Sketchfab, along with Madame Tussauds, have released the initial scans of what should be a comprehensive collection of 3D models of the Madame Tussauds collection. The gallery is crowdsourced and asks users to “contribute to this gallery by tagging your work ‘madametussauds.’”

From Albert Einstein to Michael Jackson, Jimmy Hendrix, Steven Spielberg, and Fidel Castro, there are currently over 30 models available for download. Once downloaded, any of these models can easily be 3D printed, allowing fans of various actors, politicians, and musicians to step up their fanhood, or should be say ‘obsession,’ quite a bit.

While it may be impossible to get many of these celebrities to set time aside to actually undergo the scanning process, not to mention many are no longer with us, scanning a wax model which is nearly identical to each person is certainly the next best approach.

Let us know you thoughts on this very interesting gallery at Sketchfab. Feel free to share with us any 3D prints you have done in the Sketchfab & Madame Tussauds forum thread on 3DPB.com

 

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Popular Michael Jackson Tribute Act Who’s Bad Moonwalking To Lorain Palace

Sources: Morning Journal – By Ron Vidka| Edited By – All Things Michael

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Whether you were fans of the Jackson 5 or taught yourself to moon walk to “Billie Jean,” you might want to know that Who’s Bad has been called the “ultimate homage” to Michael Jackson.

Billed as “The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Show,” Who’s Bad plays one show only at the Lorain Palace Theater, 617 Broadway, Lorain, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $18, $25 and $50. Call the Palace box office at 440-245-2323 or visit lorainpalace.com.

According to press materials, the King of Pop’s longtime friend and manager Frank DiLeo  proclaimed after seeing the Who’s Bad show in Nashville, “The show was great. … Michael would have been proud!”

Begun in 2004 in Chapel Hill, N.C., Who’s Bad is said to be the longest-running Michael Jackson tribute band, selling out nearly 50 venues in the United Kingdom in December, 2010, the same venues where Jackson was preparing to end his career on a high note with a 50-show “This Is It” concert series.

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Musician Vamsi Tadepalli is the man responsible for creating the six-member entourage that has literally gone around the world with their performances.

Taalib York, who stands in for the King of Pop, is a Brooklyn native who began singing and dancing at the age of 7, mimicking his idol Michael Jackson at every talent show in the area.

That obsession has resulted in he and the other musicians selling out their first tour of China and, in America, packing the House of Blues franchises nationwide.

Who’s Bad has been hailed as “an unrivaled celebration of pop music’’s one true King.. a power-packed performance igniting crowds on every continent and can only be described as a jaw-dropping, musical must-see.”

 

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Could Michael Jackson’s Xscape Get A Grammy Nomination? (Opinion)

Source: Daily News – By Jim Farber | Edited By – All Things Michael

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The Grammy’s nomination list will be released on December 5.  Daily News reporter Jim Farber gives his opinion about who will make the list.

Look for newbies to rule this year’s Grammys.

When the nominations come tumbling out on Dec. 5, the names most likely to crowd the top categories — namely, neo-soul crooner Sam Smith, leggy rapper Iggy Azalea and elusive pop diva Sia — were virtually unknown before 2014.

He also believes that some of the nominees will be old time favorites as well as popular hits:

Tony Bennett — at 88 — has a near lock on an album of the year nomination for “Cheek to Cheek,” his disc with a star six decades his junior, Lady Gaga. Bennett won that prize back in ’94 for his “Unplugged” effort. His 72-year-old peer, Barbra Streisand, could also get an album of the year nod, for “Partners,” her hot-selling disc of duets with other big stars.

Another juggernaut this year falls outside the common spheres of pop. The “Frozen” soundtrack has sold more than any other disc in 2014 (over 3.2 million and counting). The entire disc may not get an album of the year nod, but it’s hard to imagine voters ignoring the inescapable single “Let It Go,” voiced by Broadway’s Idina Menzel, for the year’s top record and song.

Some voters may want to ignore U2’s “Songs of Innocence” because it was automatically downloaded into iPhones — but one man’s spam is another Grammy voter’s album of the year selection. So don’t count it out.

Here is his list of likely nominations which includes, Michael jackson’s Xscape for Album of The Year:

BEST NEW ARTIST:

Sam Smith, Haim, 5 Seconds of Summer, Sia, Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

“In the Lonely Hour” Sam Smith, “Beyoncé” Beyoncé, “Ghost Stories”Coldplay, “Prism” Katy Perry, “GIRL” Pharrell Williams, “x” Ed Sheeran,“Partners” Barbra Streisand, “Xscape” Michael Jackson, “Turn Blue” Ariana Grande, “Lazaretto” Jack White, “Cheek to Cheek” Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, “1000 Forms of Fear” Sia, “Songs of Innocence” U2, “Frozen” soundtrack, “The New Classic” Iggy Azalea, “Marshall Mathers 2” Eminem

SONG OF THE YEAR/RECORD OF THE YEAR:

“Stay With Me” Sam Smith, “Let It Go” Idina Menzel, “Happy” Pharrell Williams, “All About That Bass” Meghan Trainor, “Fancy” Iggy Azalea,“Problems” Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, “The Monster” Eminem and Rhianna, “Drunk on Love” Beyoncé and Jay Z, “All of Me” John Legend,“Chandelier” Sia

It will interesting to see if he is right. Xscape certainly deserves to be nominated.

 

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THRILLER LIVE Opens At Auckland’s The Civic Theater – February 12, 2015

Sources: Scoop.co.nz | Heart of the City| Edited By – All Things Michael

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THRILLER LIVE, a spectacular concert production that celebrates the music of the world’s greatest entertainer,Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five has played in London’s West End six capacity years since 2009, and last month entered the record books as the 20th longest running musical in West End history.

THRILLER LIVE opens at Auckland’s The Civic theatre on 12 February and will run through to 22 February with no possibility of an extension.

THRILLER LIVE is over two hours of non-stop hits from pop to rock, soul to disco in a show that pays homage to Michael Jackson’s legendary live performances and the magic of his 45-year musical history.THRILLER LIVE features stunning choreography and Michael’s innovative dance moves executed with flair, precision and passion in a show that fans will never forget.

Two of the stars on this tour will be MiG Ayesa (We Will Rock You, Annie, Rock Star: INXS, Rock of Ages, Burn The Floor) and Prinnie Stevens (The Voice Australia) who have just performed the roles in the West End, London.

After opening in the Lyric Theatre London in January 2009 to rave reviews, THRILLER LIVE embarked on a world tour and a sell-out UK arena tour, played over 3000 shows globally to 3 million fans, visited over 28 countries, including Germany, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Singapore, South Africa, China, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Japan and Brazil and entered the West End record books by becoming the longest running show in the Lyric Theatres 125 year history.

THRILLER LIVE combines high-energy choreography and dancing, eye-popping video footage and a myriad of effects. Plus dazzling costumes, sequins and hot pants, not to mention that signature white suit and glove.

THRILLER LIVE was originally conceived and created by Adrian Grant, a long-time associate of Michael Jackson, and author of Michael Jackson – The Visual Documentary. The Australian tour ofTHRILLER LIVE is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group, The Flying Music Company, BB Promotion and Lunchbox Theatricals in association with Key Concerts and Adelaide Festival Centre.

THRILLER LIVE continues to moonwalk around the world, taking audiences on a visual, audio and electrifying journey through Michael’s illustrious career. This two-hour bonanza of non-stop hits has everyone shimmying in their seats.

Prinnie Stevens is one of Australia’s most sought after performers – an incredible singer, dancer, songwriter and presenter. Prinnie burst on to the scene at 17, performing in the Australian premiere ofRent: The Musical; Leader Of The Pack and Footloose. This was followed by her Helpmann nominated performance in Oh, What A Night! Following a stint in New York Prinnie auditioned for The Voice and made the top 4 in Team Joel. Last year Prinnie appeared on Celebrity Apprentice and joined Universal Music as a Solo Artist and released single “Don’t wake me up”. Earlier this year, she was Co Host onThe Voice Kids and recently released EP “One night” that debuted at #13

THRILLER LIVE contains all of Jackson’s favourite songs including: I Want You Back, ABC, Can You Feel It, Off The Wall, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Bad, Rock With You, They Don’t care About Us, Dangerous, Heal The World, and Thriller plus many more!

Reviews:

“The Hits just keep on Coming” – Daily Telegraph, London

“This theatrical extravaganza is a breathtaking celebration –
quite literally thrilling” – The Stage, UK

Immensely enjoyable. This is great stuff. A wonderful catalogue of pop music
at its best” – The Independent, London

“If you have a pulse you must go and see this show. It’s the freshest,
funkiest show in town”- Playhouse Pickings, London

“Thriller Live is an astounding tribute to Michael Jackson’s career”
– West End Frame, London

“Dazzlingly well-drilled and brilliantly done” – Mail on Sunday, London

www.thrillerlive.co.nz

Facebook : www.facebook.com/ThrillerAUNZ
Twitter: @ThrillerAUNZ Instagram: @ThrillerAUNZ Universal Hashtag: #thrillerlive

Venue: The Civic, Auckland
Dates: Wednesday, February 12 to Sunday, February 22,  2015
Times: Tuesday – Friday 7:30 pm, Saturday 2:30 pm & 7:30 pm
and Sunday 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm
Tickets: From $69 (Booking and transaction fees may apply)
Bookings: Ticketmaster 09 970 9700 or ticketmaster.co.nz

 

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Invincible: A Glorious Tribute To Michael Jackson – November 22

Sources: My Strand Capitol | Edited By – All Things Michael

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From the early moments with his brothers in the Jackson 5 to his stratospheric rise as a solo artist to become one of the greatest entertainers of all time, this is the only show that brings back the spirit and the essence of seeing Michael Jackson Live again onstage!

Masterfully performing the unique dancing that Michael was so famous for, two talented performers portray Michael at different stages of his dynamic career in this multi-media spectacular featuring his greatest hits including “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” “Smooth Criminal,” and more!

This acclaimed production includes a world-class dance company, Grammy Award-winning vocalists, and master musicians and percussionists. You don’t want to miss this thrilling theatrical experience!

Produced and Directed by Bessie Award winner Darrin Ross of RossLive Entertainment

Group Tickets
Groups of 10 or more get 10% off! Call the Box Office at 717-846-1111 to place group orders.

www.rossliveent.com

www.facebook.com/InvincibleAGloriousTributeToMichaelJackson  

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TJ Lubinsky Secures Rights To Famed Motown 25 Special For Public TV Pledge

Sources: Current – By Dru Sefton | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, the famous 1983 special on which Michael Jackson debuted his signature moonwalk and Smokey Robinson reunited with the Miracles, is coming to public television via pledge producer and doo-wop showman TJ Lubinsky.

The two-hour program has not aired since its initial broadcast on NBC due to complex rights issues, Lubinsky said. He negotiated a two-year exclusive contract for public television stations to run the entire show.

The list of performers is a who’s who from Motown, the famous Detroit-based record label: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, the Supremes, the Jackson 5, the Temptations, the Four Tops and more. Hosting is comedian Richard Pryor, then at the height of his career. The show went on to win a Peabody Award and an Emmy for variety program.

Although he was just 11 at the time, Lubsinky vividly remembers watching the special, which featured a series of dazzling performances by entertainers who rarely performed on the same stage. “It was the only time in my life where everybody was talking about the same thing for the next couple days,” he said. “Teachers, kids in school, disc jockeys on the radio were all buzzing. It was just one of those shows.”

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TJ Lubinsky

Lubinsky also credits the program with sparking his lifelong love of music and the passion to share that with an audience. “That was a defining moment,” he said. “I knew that in some way I had to be a part of all this.” He went on to become one of the most successful pledge program producers in public television. Lubinksy estimates that his music shows have brought in more than $500 million for public broadcasting stations since the first aired in 1998.

He will test Motown during December pledge at four pilot stations: WNET in New York; WETA, Arlington, Va.; KQED, San Francisco; and Maryland Public Television. “It’s important for an event like this that we look at the impacts of scheduling, promotion and how to reach the target audience on many emotional levels,” he said. “Programmers can point out pitfalls. That will really give it the best shot at reaching the most eyeballs.” The finalized show and breaks will go out to the system for use during March pledge as a 119-minute pledge event including four 11:30 breaks.

Premiums include tickets to Motown the Musical, now touring nationally, as well as a DVD of the full concert in newly remastered 5.1 surround sound with more than an hour of bonus material, including the 40-minute documentary The Making of Motown 25 and a performers’ roundtable.

An expanded three-DVD set contains more than six hours of extras, such as outtake songs, footage of a Marvin Gaye rehearsal, and performer and production roundtables. The “My Music” seven-CD set Motown Big Hits & More presents 132 cuts from the label’s other performers, including the Spinners, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and the Isley Brothers.

Lubinsky spent years working intermittently to secure the special for public TV. “HBO and several big cable companies were also looking at it,” he said. “Rights were much more complicated than for the average show.” Motown founder Berry Gordy owned the program, which involved many individual musicians, groups and songwriters.

Lubinsky thinks his longtime relationship with several major record labels helped him win out in the end. “Trust is a big thing in these deals,” he said. “Rights owners are trusting you with their baby, that you’ll present it well. A lot of people have to have confidence in you.”

He also hopes to someday pull content from his vast musical archive to create weekly non-pledge programming for stations.

Lubinsky envisions expanding his popular nostalgic “My Music” franchise into the regular schedule. “That’s a brand that PBS and member stations can truly claim as uniquely their own,” he said. Programs could feature performer interviews and “where are they now” updates.

While shooting pledge events, Lubinsky also tapes interviews and other content. The program could capture “emotions, triumphs, struggles and challenges that speak to the very core and nature of the human condition, where the ‘payoff’ episode is the pledge special,” he said.

With PBS now working with icon series producers to pledge the National Program Service, Lubinsky noted, such a show seems a natural fit. He’s floated the idea over the years, he added, “but I haven’t been able to align with a PBS champion that sees the potential and can engage others in the process.”

 

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Ne-Yo and Sonna Rele Cover Michael Jackson’s Earth Song On New EP For Climate Change – HOME (Heal Our Mother Earth)

Sources: National Journal -By Jason Plautz | All Things Michael

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Common’s newest track began with a conversation about water pollution.

“We’re in the studio, and we’re talking about how bad the water is and this drought in Southern California where you’ve got the reservoirs drying up. We’re looking at pictures online and we’re saying, ‘We’re in trouble,'” said producer Malik Yusef. “When we talked about some of the obvious problems, he said, ‘This is real.’ It’s one of these situations where you have to ask what we can do.”

The result was “Trouble in the Water,” one of four new original songs on an album executive-produced by Yusef titled HOME (Heal Our Mother Earth). Besides Common, the Grammy-winning rapper, the album includes contributions from Ne-Yo (the R&B singer behind “She Knows“), Elle Varner, Choklate, and Aaron Fresh.

It’s part of People’s Climate Music from the progressive Hip-Hop Caucus and major environmental groups to raise awareness and “inspire action” on climate change.

Four original songs from the album were released Tuesday on an EP on iTunes. The full 11-track album is out Dec. 2 with covers of some environmental standards. Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me” is tackled by Broadway actress Antonique Smith, while Michael Jackson’s environment and animal-welfare anthem “Earth Song” is covered by Ne-Yo and Sonna Rele.

Joni Mitchell’s folk classic “Big Yellow Taxi?” That’s covered by Karmin, the duo best known for 2012’s “Brokenhearted.”

Yusef, who has won five Grammys including Best Rap Song for “All Of The Lights” by Kanye West, said the covers were of songs that “mean something to people … not just people in this movement, but everyone.”

As for the originals, Yusef said he hoped they could reach a new audience that isn’t necessarily engaged on the ins-and-outs of the Keystone XL pipeline or the EPA’s climate rules. “I’ve been blessed with the kind of ear to make great music, and I have the accolades to go with it. People will take this much more from me as a purveyor of the arts rather than just some guy out there with Occupy Wall Street,” he said.

On “Trouble in the Water,” (which also features Kumasi, Aaron Fresh, Choklate, and Laci Kay) wonky issues like fracking get name-checked amid bigger concerns about water safety and pollution, but it’s not all earnest. It’s got some NSFW language, also deals with police violence in Chicago, and even includes the line “We think our opponent is overseas, but we’re messing with Mother Nature’s ovaries.”

The album was created by the Hip-Hop Caucus, the activist group that has allied with 350.org and other environmental groups, in partnership with the entertainment agency The Private Plane. Also partnering on the project were environmental heavyweights 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.

“I am an environmentalist in whole, and I and my family do my small part to recycle, conserve water, reduce our carbon footprint. But we need more,” Yusef said. “I think the biggest lesson here was that everybody was able to come away with a bigger, broader sense of purpose. … We’re artists and we have a bit of a megaphone, but we’re regular people. So let’s use our regular-people spirit in conjunction with that and make a difference.”

 

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