The deluxe version of the highly-anticipated second posthumous Michael Jackson album, Xscape, has been released today and fans can now stream the entire album for free on Spotify.
With singles "Love Never Felt So Good," "Chicago," and "Xscape" already released and exciting M.J. fans, the deluxe stream provides a total of 17 tracks for us to enjoy. The full 17-track album contains eight songs with two versions each -- the original and updated versions -- plus Jackson's duet with Justin Timberlake, "Love Never Felt So Good." L.A. Reid, Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, J-Roc, John McClaine, and Stargate (Erik Hermansen & Mikkel Storleer) all took part in producing Xscape.
The album starts off of with the already released "Love Never Felt So Good." The original version can be heard as track nine and is just 35 seconds shy of the radio version. The original sounds as though we are a part of a live recording session while Michael is in the booth. You can hear him counting in the beginning, snapping, ad libbing, and clapping. The track's piano sounds were definitely preserved, and in the end Michael confirms that he is satisfied with the recording. According to Billboard, the original is "from a 1983 demo recorded with Paul Anka" that co-executor of the Jackson estate John McClain produced.
Track two is the second single, "Chicago." The vocals on the "contemporized" version are exactly the same, but you can tell Timbaland did some major work to make the song more appealing, with the original sounding as though it was done on a Casio keyboard. During production, Timbaland stated that he "sometimes felt he was hearing Jackson's spirit speak to him in the studio." J-Roc assisted in the production as well.
Tracks three through seven are all previously unreleased tracks. "Loving You" is an upbeat R&B ballad that's dedicated to all the lovers who prefer to stay home, schmooze, and indulge in other intimate acts as opposed to going out. The original track has a significant '80s feel with the use of "Mr Telephone Man"-like beats. Both versions definitely have an appealing sound. Timbaland and J-Roc tag teamed up on the original, which was produced during Jackson's sessions for his 7th studio album, Bad.
The electric pop track "A Place With No Name" makes good use of the synthesizers, violins and hand-clap / snap like beats. M.J. definitely brought out his trademark midway-through-the-song-grit. Surprisingly enough, the original sounds like a completely different song. It's slower, and the guitar gives it a Hootie and the Blowfish alternative feel. Stargate's Erik Hermansen & Mikkel Storleer worked on updating the 1998 original (recorded during Invincible) which happened to be a rework in the making. According to Billboard, Michael wanted to rework his 1972 hit "Horse With No Name," so "he completely changed the lyrics."
The melancholy use of the cello, violin, and shackles in the background for the beginning of "Slave To The Rhythm" definitely paints a false image of how the remainder of the track sounds. Despite the pop-inspired beats, the song talks about a woman who puts overtime in her seemingly unfair relationship and work. The intro for the beginning of the original isn't as creepy, but you can hear someone using a whip. The song still has a pop feel, but it's of the standards of a '90s pop song. The original was produced in 1991 by Babyface and L.A. Reid during the sessions for "Dangerous." J-Roc and Timbaland went to work modernizing this one.
"Do You Know Where Your Children Are?" puts an EDM / pop feel on your local 10 o'clock news channel's nightly question. The lyrics tell the story of a child who doesn't come home to escape unfortunate events of sexual harassment, searches for a better life, but ends up lured into prostitution. The original has a distinct '80s Beverly Hills Cop feel and it already went through two separate rounds of production. It was initially recorded for Bad, but "then revived for Dangerous" stated Billboard.
"Blue Gangsta" starts off with chilling violins, cellos, and vocals. It eventually transitions into a multitude of beats and horns as M.J. expresses his heartache and reasoning for not being able to love again. All praises goes to Timbaland for updating the original. Production for the original sounds as though it just went through the first round of edits, but it has a Latin-tango flair. The initial use of the accordion and trumpets were rather impressive. Timbaland and J-Roc worked with vocals that "were in a finished and sometimes perfected state — complete with backing vocals, fingersnaps, and handclaps" said Billboard.
The title track, "Xscape," could easily be a follow-up to 1995's "Scream." M.J. sings about wanting to be away from it all: the media, the "system," and his relationships. The original recording starts off in prison, where you can hear other inmates and a guard saying he's gone. In comparison to the updated track, the initial production is more on the mellow side. It was only right that Rodney Jerkins had production rights for the remake, being that he produced the original during Invincible in 2001.
Xscape's final track is the only one that features another artist. Justin Timberlake's verses and ad-libs on "Love Never Felt So Good" neither helped nor hurt the other versions of the song. This version is simply in a category of its own, and it's more of a dance track. All three versions are easily lovable.
The deluxe album is available for purchase through Amazon.