‘Black-ish’ Star Tracee Ellis Ross Talks Mom Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Not Growing Up Normal (Video)

Sources: The Wrap | Edited By – All Things Michael

Tracee-Ellis-Ross

Despite her mother attempting to keep things normal, she recalls trips to the White House and getting painted by Andy Warhol.

Tracee Ellis Ross is a burgeoning television star thanks to the success of ABC’s “black-ish,” but the world of stardom is nothing new for her. During her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday night, Ross talked about growing up as the daughter of Diana Ross.

While her mother tried to keep things normal by minimizing the impact of her career from her kids, there were elements of Tracee Ellis Ross’ childhood that could not be considered normal by any means. The children of stars, they’re definitely not like us.

“All those kinds of things that were really important to her about creating the reality of our life,” she said about her mother’s attempts at fostering a sense of normalcy. “But I also was painted by Andy Warhol, I’ve been to the White House numerous times.”

Andy Warhol picture

Andy Warhol picture

She even shared her mother’s friendship with Michael Jackson, sharing a story of the time she tried to get him to back her side in an argument with one of her friends. When she asked him what he said during the scat portion of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,’” Jackson replied, “I don’t know. What do you think I’m saying?”

“I’ve been saved by the sound of Michael’s song,” she said. She even sang it for Kimmel’s audience, but … no.

“Black-ish” airs at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC Wednesdays. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.

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The Missing Speakers

Sources: In The Studio With Michael Jackson – By Brad Sundberg| All Things Michael

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I still remember my first visit to Neverland. I mean, it would be hard to forget. But this was before Neverland was really Neverland – it was just Michael’s new ranch. He had asked me to install a music system in his bedroom – specifically on either side of his bed. It was soon after he bought Sycamore Valley Ranch, and he was just starting to settle in and plan what it could be like over time.

So I drove up to the ranch (he wasn’t there my first visit), and I was escorted into his bedroom. I quickly took some measurements and came up with some ideas… but maybe I lingered a bit longer than was really needed. I mean… it’s his bedroom for crying out loud! That’s pretty cool no matter how you slice it.

It was sort of decorated with movie memorabilia, toys, the gold and red throne (a gift, I assume?), and the classic MJ array of shopping bags and overstuffed Fed Ex and manila envelopes. Everywhere. This was how his office looked at the studio, and how Havenhurst looked, so it was clear that this was his home.

I ordered a pair of Westlake BBSM-4 speakers for his bedroom, and a nice amplifier. We not only recorded at Westlake Studios, but they also manufacture a line of speakers that we (and many professionals) used for recording. They build huge speakers that cost more than a small house, and they also sell smaller versions that sound amazing in a more traditional size. Michael was used to the sound of Westlake speakers, so it only made sense to mount a small pair of them in his bedroom for him to listen to mixes that Bruce was working on.

(I have another story about a pair of Westlake speakers I installed for Michael at Trump Tower in New York, but I’ll save that for now.)

I decided to mount them on arms that would rest above his bedside tables, and he could swing them in, so they would be floating on either side of his head, like a giant set of headphones. I thought it was a cool idea, and I dove into the project the following week. It only took a few hours to get them installed, so I kicked my shoes off and climbed onto his bed, and pulled the speakers on either side of my head for a test drive. They sounded amazing, and I was pretty proud of myself for making the whole thing come together so smoothly. Then Michael came in and listened to them, and he was so excited! We played a few mixes from the studio, and talked about new ideas for the ranch – and the rest of his enormous house.

Over the next many years I spent a lot of time at the ranch, in the house, even in the bedroom. Soon he wanted even bigger speakers in his master bathroom. I knew he loved to feel the music, and when I had it right, he would always laugh and yell, “Hurt me Brad… hurt me!”

Years rolled by, more projects, more albums, more mixes, more laughter. Then one day it was as if the music stopped. Michael was gone, and Neverland would forever be empty without him. I remember watching news reports of strangers and the press touring the house. It seemed so empty, looking at the bare floors and vacant rooms on TV. I remember one reporter walking into the bedroom, and trying to describe something he clearly had never seen. Then I saw the holes in the wall, where I had mounted my swing arm brackets for the speakers. The missing speakers. They were gone now, like everything else.

I didn’t really notice anything else, just the missing speakers. I knew he loved how they sounded, and I imagined him cranking them up and eating popcorn (“corn”). In a way they symbolized where he came from, and what drove him: Music. After seeing the holes in the walls where my speakers used to hang, I generally avoided all photos and videos of inside the house. It wasn’t the same. The missing speakers represented, at least to me, a great loss.

allthingsmichael edit

It’s just one of those days.

Tickets are now on sale for our seminars in Japan (January) and New York (February).

www.inthestudiowithmj.com

 

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Behind The Curtain

Sources: RockCellar Magazine – By Steve Rosen | Edited By – All Things Michael

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

March 1981…

Michael’s personal menagerie of exotic and wild animals was still a zoo in the sky and Bubbles only a distant thought. Neverland hadn’t broken ground and extravagant shopping sprees hadn’t been indulged in.

No, in 1981 Michael was still as normal as you could be if you were a 23-year old musician with an arsenal of astonishing talent and poised on the edge of a career about to turn you into the biggest artist on the planet. The artist was still happy, good-natured, and addicted to nothing more than making the most passionate and perfectly constructed pop music anyone would ever hear.

He was just two years down the road from making Off the Wall, his first collaboration with producer Quincy Jones and the album that was the first step in a trajectory that would launch him from artist to icon. It was a remarkable record that showcased the young singer’s unbelievable range and versatility on songs like Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Rock With You and She’s Out Of My Life.

Additionally, he was still performing with his brothers Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Randy as the Jacksons and had released Triumph about a year earlier.

When given the opportunity to speak with Michael, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? Even this early in his career, he rarely did interviews and I knew meeting and talking to the young performer would be something special. The interview was held at the Columbia Records offices in Century City, CA.

Century City was not so much a city as it was a community of high-rise business offices, expensive apartments, and high-end boutique stores.

Columbia Records was a stunningly modern building molded from glass and chrome and on this particular day was the location where a whole assortment of Jacksons were convened. I went to the Epic Records suite—Epic was a Columbia subsidiary and the Jacksons’ label— where the publicists had gathered a group of music journalists. They ushered us downstairs into a massive conference room and seated us at various tables arranged around the floor.

There were hard shell trap cases strewn about the wooden floor suggesting that the Jacksons had been rehearsing here.

After sitting by myself at a table for several minutes, the conference doors flew open and in marched Michael, Jermaine, Jackie, Randy, Tito and Janet. You have to understand that in 1981 Janet Jackson was only 15 years old. She had appeared in a sitcom called Good Times but her debut was still a year away when she would release her debut self-titled album. When she walked through that door with her older brothers, she looked more like some fan tagging along than she did a blood relative.

As the group walked in, various members were directed to certain tables where other music writers were waiting. To be honest, I wasn’t sure which Jackson was which. I couldn’t have told you the difference between Jermaine or Jackie but I knew what Michael Jackson looked like and I was silently hoping he’d be directed to my table. Sure enough, he was. I rose and shook his hand.

What struck me was his height. Michael was taller than I thought. Or not exactly tall but tallish. He was thin in the muscled and sinewy way dancers were. There was a genuinely sincere smile revealing bright, white teeth. His hair was short and not stylized in the way it would later become.

He wore a brownish, uniform-looking shirt with epaulet-styled patches on both shoulders, which bore three stripes and a crescent moon-looking design. Michael was rocking jeans, a simple belt and the black loafers he always wore.

Michael sat down at my table along with another brother . I said hello to Tito after he was introduced to me—thankfully I hadn’t addressed him as one of the other brothers—and was going to introduce myself to the young girl seated next to Michael but she simply sat down and ignored me. She hadn’t said a word. I tried to get her to look in my direction but she was fixated on Michael.

Remember, I had no idea who this person was and simply thought she was a friend of the band who was hanging out. To my surprise, chagrin and even horror, I’d soon realize otherwise.

My cassette player had been set up and was ready to go. I pushed the cheap, plastic microphone across the table so it was perched in front of Michael. Admittedly, my heart was beating overtime. There was more than a small case of nerves. This was Michael Jackson, the king of pop. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Fighting through the terror, I presented my first question.

Destiny was a little bit different than Triumph for the band in terms of producing and writing it by yourselves?” I asked.

As I’m talking, my eyes were focused on Michael. Establishing eye contact with an interviewee was important in conducting in-person interviews. You wanted to make sure your eyeballs were locked on the person sitting across the table from you. The simple ritual created a sense of intimacy and connected you on an emotional level. There was a non-verbal communication and a world of information could be expressed without uttering a word.

So imagine my horror when I found myself staring at the side of Michael’s head because he was looking directly at this young girl perched at his side. It was as if he hadn’t heard my question or if he had, it simply wasn’t registering. It threw me for a moment but I kept my poise.

What happened next was so bizarre, alien, uncomfortable and unreal that it’s hard to find the exact—or enough—words to describe the moment. While Michael was still turned and looking directly at this young teenage girl with black hair, she began speaking to him.

“Was Destiny a little bit different for you guys because you produced the album and wrote the songs?”

For a second, I wasn’t sure what I’d heard. Had she just paraphrased my question? Had I stumbled over my words so badly that he didn’t understand what I was saying? Three seconds later, Michael started talking but he wasn’t looking at me. He was still turned sideways.

“Well, we did also on Destiny,” he said. “I think the difference is in progress and learning. I think each album you get better. But we wrote all the songs on Destiny except for one song, Blame it on the Boogie. With Triumph, I think we accomplished a lot of different things we’ve learned since Destiny. Destiny was the beginning and Triumph is like what we’ve accomplished since then. We have more freedom and we’re doing more arrangement. Trying different creative things, different sounds, all kinds of things like that now.”

My brain was still processing what had just happened. While delivering his response to the question, Michael never looked at me. His eyes remained fixed on this girl and the effect was so unsettling as to leave me sitting there with my mouth agape. I did not exist. It was one of those moments where you say to yourself, “I cannot believe what I just saw. That didn’t just happen.” You don’t want to admit that what just occurred was real so you keep trying to deny it. It’s a defense mechanism to keep you from losing it or at least going temporarily insane. You find excuses for it.

Was he talking through her? Was she channeling the voice of Michael? Was this a game? A joke? A Jackson family tradition nobody was telling me about? Were Michael and Janet really one person?

Flustered, flummoxed and battling to retain control, I soldiered on. “You feel you’ve progressed a long way from Gamble-Huff?” I asked. “Was that a period for the Jacksons that you’ve since, uh, thought you just went beyond that and wanted to produce yourselves? Did you feel they did a good job with the Jacksons?”

I could feel my tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth and my brain sticking to the top of my skull. I was stuttering over my words and my thoughts wouldn’t pour out any faster than thick molasses from a jug. I managed this second question and was hoping for the best but that wasn’t happening. Once again this tiny voice issued from the girl. “Did you feel that Gamble and Huff did a good job with the Jacksons?”

Now I was totally freaked out. What I initially thought may have been just some lighthearted interplay between interviewer and interviewee became a truly strange and surreal exchange. I kept looking at both of them to see if they might break into smiles and tell me I was on Candid Camera or something. But there was no camera, no aha moment and no answer.

Michael never looked at me and to this day I wonder if that’s what really happened. Was I manifesting this scenario because it would later make for a great story? It would but I wasn’t. I only had to play the recorded interview and hear in all its unguarded glory my comments being echoed by this adolescent girl—later learning it was Janet Jackson—and Michael’s disembodied voice responding to somebody that wasn’t me.

I always felt like Robert DeNiro in the classic scene from Taxi Driver where he stared into the mirror and asked, “You talking to me?” Certainly Michael hadn’t been.

In all honesty though, he was a very sweet and charming person. His comments were forthright and thoughtful albeit massively quirky and crazy in the way they were delivered. I didn’t think he was trying to belittle or embarrass me. Possibly it was just some ritual meant to make him feel more at ease amongst strangers.

Following the interview, he ventured off into a corner of the big room and began dancing. It was a marvel to watch him from such a close distance. Truly he walked on air and floated three inches above the floor. When I asked him for a picture, he graciously consented. Putting his arm around my shoulder, he beamed at the camera with a huge grin. It was hard to believe if he had been trying to make me feel small or mock me in any way that he would have agreed to taking his picture with me.

Looking at that photo today, I’d like to think his smile meant, “You were OK, Steve. I can’t explain to you why that happened but it did. I wasn’t trying to hurt you. I know what being hurt feels like. It’s who I am. I am a Jackson.”

Excerpt taken from here.

Kobe Bryant: “Michael Jackson Tried To Get Me To Meditate”

Sources: All Things Michael |Excerpts From – NY Times – By Phillip Galanes

mj-kobe

In a recent interview with the NY Times, NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, met to give an interview at Antonello Ristorante in Santa Ana, California.  On the surface, it would seem that these two have nothing in common, but in many ways they do, which lead to an interesting conversation about how they came together as their shared views and experiences on many topics.

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During the interview, Kobe revealed an interesting tidbit about Michael Jackson trying to teach him how to meditate when he was 18. Even though Kobe couldn’t master it at the time, he later learned to embrace this practice when he able to relate it to enhancing his basketball performance through Phil Jackson. As we well know, Kobe adores Michael and has referred to him as his mentor.

PG: Speaking of breaking things down, I noticed, reading “Thrive,” that the pillars of wellness must be second nature to athletes, who are all about peak performance. You meditate?

AH: Every day.

KB: [N.B.A. coach] Phil Jackson introduced me to it. When I was 18, Michael Jackson tried to get me to meditate. He could sit in meditation for seven hours. But I couldn’t sit still for 20 minutes.

PG: Michael Jackson?

KB: Yeah. “Thriller” Michael Jackson.

PG: When did Phil Jackson come along?

KB: His first season with the Lakers was when I was 21. And I dived right into meditation. I always knew the game carried a deeper meaning, more than X’s and O’s and strategy.

AH: Phil Jackson was a pioneer bringing this into sports. He helped give meditation, and other ways to renew ourselves, a legitimacy for businesspeople and macho guys, who tended to identify it with New Age-y, flaky stuff. Suddenly, meditation became performance enhancement, as well as part of the journey of discovery.

KB: It’s crazy to me that meditation is viewed as hokey. Just look at the people who’ve done phenomenal things. Do they meditate? Absolutely.

Read the full interview here

Discovering Pop Legend Michael Jackson’s Popularity In Rural India

Sources: Time of Oman – BY Pradeep Govind  | All Things Michael

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It was my first trip to Vijaywada. I was on official duty on my first job. My assignment was daunting and challenging yet exciting nonetheless.

To get specific, I was given the target of increasing the sale of prerecorded cassettes in the international music genre for my company across South India by at least 200% in the next twelve months. My company was a license affiliate of EMI London that boasted of arguably the world’s most comprehensive and exhaustive catalogue across all genres of international music. The artistes included The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and many more.

Those were the early days of the invasion of satellite channels in India. It was too early to determine what the impact of MTV would be on the cultural metamorphosis of modern India.  Sure, the metropolitans in the south had their share of decent exposure to the Beatles and Pink Floyds of the world. But once we went beyond the metros to the satellite cities and smaller towns, the only noteworthy album in our catalogue that received any recognition was “Man Machine” by Kraft work, which owed its success primarily to the fact that it somehow found its way to be played during the interval breaks in most cinema halls thanks to its “then” innovative use of the synthesizer.

So when I was asked by my boss to make a market prospecting visit to Vijaywada during my next trip to Hyderabad, I was not too sure if it was worth it.  When I checked with our territory representative in coastal Andhra, he encouraged me to make the visit as he felt that I would enjoy the ‘company paid holiday’ in Vijayawada, as there was only one outlet that sold international music there and they purchased only “Man Machine” from us and anything else would be accepted only on consignment basis i.e. payment on sale basis from our authorized distributor. This meant that I had no significant work in Vijayawada. When I mentioned this to my boss who came from a hardcore FMCG background, he gave me that age old spiel of the Bata salesman who went to Africa and reported a huge potential for shoes since no one there wore shoes.

With no further scope for argument, I headed to Vijayawada. I checked into a lodge and at around nine in the morning, took a rickshaw to our local distributor’s office. Our distributor was also the authorized dealer for a host of other labels…a common concept in the economics of nodal distribution that you will find as you go to smaller towns. In the few minutes of my interaction with him, I realized that I was just an unavoidable distraction and source of nuisance to him. ‘Unavoidable’ because I represented his principal and ‘nuisance’ because both of us knew that there was no way that the genre of music I represented could add value to his business.

After some initial pleasantries and a cup of tea, he suggested that I do a round of the local wholesale and retail music shops just to get an idea of the market before meeting him for lunch when we could discuss further proliferation strategies for international music in Vijayawada. I knew that it was his ploy to get rid of me during his busy morning hours. I was also happy to oblige since I could keep myself occupied instead of just watching him ramble over phone to someone or the other in Telegu which I understood not.

My market visit began at about 11 AM and as the sun got hotter, my spirits got damper. The only types of music that mattered in these markets were devotional and film music. M.S. Subhalaksmi’s Venketasha Suprabatham was a hot favorite for obvious reasons. Religion would always be a safe segment to be in as long as man’s insecurities grew exponentially. There was also a brand new audio release of a Chiranjeevi film which dominated the shelf space in all the shops.

Finally I came to the shop that sold international music. And all that I saw there in international music was 2 copies of Man Machine and 5 copies of a pirated compilation of that year’s Grammy winners.

As I spoke to the shop owner, I understood that the rich catalogue that I had to offer held absolutely no bearing in his shop. As I reached back to my distributor’s office thoroughly demoralized, there was a call for me on his phone. It was my boss. He enquired about my visit and I told him that I managed to get orders for just 15 cassettes from a rooster of over 5000 titles and out of these, 10 were for ‘Man Machine’, three for the original sound track of “Pretty Woman” (Since the movie was playing in one of the theatres…probably more for the bath tub scene with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere) and the other two were for any instrumental album of my choice and at my risk. (with heavy drum beats as a must!!)

“Boss, the trip was just not worth it. It would not even cover my train fare.” I told my boss.

“Well at least you know that first hand.” he replied as he hung up.

Just then the phone rang again. My distributor answered. He spoke in Telegu interlaced with broken English. He seemed excited.

“Give me 3000 copies. I will courier the Demand Draft tomorrow. But one condition… I want the stocks to reach me on the same day, otherwise the material will flow into my territory from Hyderabad.” he said over phone. He hung up and looked at me and said, “Babu, your presence has brought in good news. Today I will take you to some nice restaurant. Come…let’s go fast. I have to get back as I have work to do. There is a new release and I have to take advance orders from the market. “

Before I could ask him further, he was already outside starting his scooter. I hopped on behind and we drove into a restaurant. The air condition was a great relief from the merciless sun outside. He offered me a beer which I refused since I was on duty. He seemed to be in a mood to celebrate. I asked him what the ‘good news’ was? I guessed it must be the release of some new Chiranjeevi film sound track.

He looked at me with an expression that suggested excitement with a tinge of guilt.

He said, “Babu, we are getting dangerous!”

I did not understand. I asked “Why..are you planning to join the Naxalites?”

I knew that Andhra Pradesh has had its share of Naxalism.

He laughed. He said, “No Babu, I meant we are going to get the stocks of Michael Jackson’s new album ‘Dangerous’ anytime. The release is this week. I just got a call from the CBS office.”

It took me a few seconds for the matter to sink in.

“So is that what its all about? “

“Yes, of course.”

“You ordered 3000 copies of Dangerous????” I asked with my mouth open.

“Only for the first lot” he said with no mercy to my feelings.

“But where will you distribute these. You have only one shop in your area that sells English music and I don’t think he would take more than 20 cassettes at a time.”

“That is only for English music. But my territory covers around 1000 shops and each of them can sell Michael Jackson’s music.”

Suddenly I felt like the representative of a downtrodden lot.

“But Michael Jackson’s songs are also in English…”I argued. “On one hand I’m told that this market doesn’t take more than 20-25 cassettes of international music in a month and on the other hand you order 3000 tapes of ‘Dangerous’?”

He gave me a benevolent smile as an old man of wisdom would give to a young rebel with a sense of denial.

“Babu…” he said, “How can you compare….you should know better…Jacksongaaru is different!”

I tried to argue but held back. I reflected on the Bata salesman’s story. No. That story would not apply here at all…for this was not the endorsement of any management or distribution theory.

This was just the endorsement of a ‘phenomenon’. An endorsement of God’s mysterious designs.

Here I was taking an early lesson in life. A lesson that not everything in the world can be formulated or empirically defined, a lesson that not everything needs to be explained. Some things in the world, like the shining of stars, are meant to fascinate and not be analyzed. That’s the way they are and that’s the way God meant them to be and we need to be thankful to Him for sending one such star to shine in our lives and shine abundantly in a way that only it could. Thank you God for sending us ‘Jacksongaaru.’

And then he asked me with a smile, “Babu…shall I order some spicy Andhra meals for you?”

Read more at Time of Oman

 

Dance Off: Fik-Shun vs. Michael Jackson (A SoulTrain.com Original Short Story)

Sources: Soul Train – By Joe Walker | All Things Michael

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“Mom, come quick, come quick!” Manny yells from the living room. He is perched excitedly on the floor in front of their 70” wall-mounted television watching his favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance. “Zack is about to dance with Fik-Shun!”

Both Manny’s grandpa George and older brother Louis are sitting on the couch behind him. “Can you please not yell?” Grandpa asks sternly, looking up from his newspaper. “It’s bad enough you’ve got the TV blaring so dang loud! I’m trying to read.”

Louis, his face highlighted blue from the screen light of his tablet computer, emphasizes their grandfather’s request with a simple, emphatic interjection of, “Yeah.”

Manny twists around, mouth gaping with surprise. “Come on, Grandpa, you haveto watch too,” he says. “Fik-Shun is the most-awesome dancer, ever! He won this whole show last year. Mom, you’re missing it!”

On the television, Zack and Fik-Shun are in sync. Choreographed by Phillip Chbeeb, the Season 11 semi-finalist and season 10 champion are flexing and contorting their hip-hop routine in time with the music. Grandpa George springs forward with his finger pointed stiffly at the TV. “You call this dancing?” he asks. “And you think this Fik-Shun guy is the best dancer ever?” Grandpa gives a disagreeing chuckle, fold his arms, then retreats back into the cushions. Louis looks surprised by his grandfather’s reaction. “I think Fik-Shun is dope,” he says, now staring into the green hue of his cell phone, “but Michael Jackson was better.”

“No way!” Manny exclaims in response. “Are you blind?” he asks his brother, directing a hand gesture toward Fik-Shun on screen. “Are you seeing what he’s doing right now?”

Louis sets his phone down so as to not be distracted. He watches the remainder of the routine, then mutes the television before Dance’s three judges weigh in on the performance.  He scooches forward as though he needs a better view of his younger brother before he speaks. “Listen, little bro,” he begins, “I honestly can’t expect you to appreciate MJ like I do right away. You’re 10, you didn’t grow up on him like I did. Mike’s, like, the greatest dancer who ever lived! Mom didn’t introduce you to him until after he died. I’ll pull up some of his stuff online so you can study him like you study the dancers on this show.”

Manny frowns, turning his head in the direction of their basement door. “Hey, Mom,” he yells, “you missed it!” He looks back at Louis then shakes his head no. “I don’t need to study Michael Jackson,” he says, “because I already know Fik-Shun is better! I’ve seen Michael Jackson dance enough already; so what if he can stand on his toes! Big deal! Cousin Lauren can stand on her toes too!”

“Yeah, because she’s a ballerina,” Louis reacts, laughing so hard he clutches his stomach.

“Well…well…” Manny stammers. “So can Michelangelo! I’ve seen him stand on his toes too! And Fik-Shun can stand on one hand!”

This makes Louis laugh harder yet. “Michelangelo?” he asks, sarcastically, practically rolling around from laughter. “He’s a Ninja Turtle, he’s not even real! You’re so 10!”

Now angry and embarrassed, Manny quickly jolts to his feet like a sitting soldier when a commanding officer enters the room. He salutes his older brother with a clenched, shaking fist. “If they had a dance off I’d bet anything Fik-Shun would own Michael Jackson!”

Louis stops laughing before straightening his posture. For a few seconds the room is silent. Manny is eyeing his brother while huffing repetitiously, looking as though he’s ready to fight. Louis, realizing how passionate Manny was on this subject, reaches for video game controller in hopes to defuse the situation. “Little bro, no matter who won that would be an awesome dance off,” he says. “But let’s see if you can beat me in Michael Jackson: The Experience.”

The angry look disfiguring Manny’s pouty mouth and face suddenly turns into a competitive smile. “You’re on,” he says, showing his teeth.

Grandpa George has seen and heard enough. He storms to his feet, snatches his newspaper, and begins tromping toward the basement door. He looks back, giving his two cents before leaving the room for good. “This Fik-Shun boy and Michael Jackson don’t have nothing on Rerun and Jeffrey Daniel; now those two, that would be one heck of a dance off!” he says, turning to enter the basement. “Nicki,” Grandpa yells into the dwelling below, “come up here and teach your boys about the Soul Train dancers!”

—Mr. Joe Walker

Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, Mr. Joe Walker is a biographer, author, and columnist, currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer for Concrete Magazine. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.

 

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When Michael Met Isao Tomita

Source: Sample Face – Luke Davis| All Things Michael

Michael and Isao Tomita - Tokyo, September 24, 1987

Michael and Isao Tomita – Tokyo, September 24, 1987

It would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday this year, it’s already 5 years since his passing in June and yet there is still so much we don’t know about the King of Pop or we’ve forgotten because the media have forwarded their own agenda (let me rein in my fan mode feelings for a minute). One particular story that missed the radar was the tale of Mike visiting Japanese composer Isao Tomita, a familiar name to J Dilla fans.

According to this story via a MJ forum, when Michael toured Japan in 1987, he was invited to dinner at the composer’s house and offered a cup of Sake. The translator told Mike beforehand the Japanese tradition of eating and drinking until your plate and glass was empty. The cup being so small, MJ knowing the purity of the rice wine and not wanting to offend, he knocked back glass after glass until he couldn’t take anymore and subsequently passed his receptacle under the table to the translator, who drank the wine and passed it back to look like Michael had drunk it. Politeness and intelligence while intoxicated on Japanese rice wine. Unfathomable.

Below is a video of The King of Pop in Tomita’s studio playing around with one of his synths. It was rumoured they had arranged to collaborate but this unfortunately never came to be, which is a mighty shame as that would have been sampling gold at the very least.

 

Read more at Sample Face

Read more here about Japanese etiquette under the “Dining and Entertainment” section