This week, ahead of its May 13 release, Sony will be releasing a track a day off the Michael Jackson posthumous collection XSCAPE. Today's exclusive is the "Chicago." Jackson recorded the song, which originally titled "She Was Lovin' Me," in 1999 with the intention of including it on Invincible; Timbaland has refashioned the demo for modern ears. "Chicago" is just one of the handful of songs Timbo "contemporized" for the album, and he told Billboard that the spirit of MJ himself signed-off on his work:
"There was moments where I broke down," he says. "It was very hard to do. I'm like, 'I'm doing Michael Jackson but I can't talk to him. So how do I channel him?' " When he and J-Roc were in the studio reworking "Loving You" — a song written and produced by Jackson at his home studio at the Encino, Calif., house he lived in before Neverland — the first version they came up with was terrible. "I was like, 'I don't think Mike would like this. We got to go back. We got to simplify it,' " he says. As they did — going for a rich sound he says feels like "Boyz II Men meets today" — he heard Jackson's voice saying, "That's it, Tim."
"I'd look around, and nobody be in the room," he says. "I never shared this story, even with my co-producer, Jerome. He like, 'You all right?' I'm like, 'Nah, I'm cool, man. I'm just ...' And I'm sitting and I'm like, 'Yo, I just heard something. I know I ain't crazy. I know what I heard.' So it's like his spirit resonated through me to give me the OK."
Have a listen below, and check back in with Sony at midnight for the next release.
Stream: Michael Jackson, "Chicago" Prod. by Timbaland