‘Xscape,’ Michael Jackson album of previously unreleased material, set for May 13 release

We”ve long known at Michael Jackson left unreleased material before he died on 2009. Now the world will get to hear eight of the songs on “Xscape,” an 8-song collection featuring “contemporized” versions of the tunes. Epic Records will release the set May 13 in conjunction with Jackson”s estate.

“Contemporized,” according to a press release, means that Epic CEO/chairman “L.A” Reid and various producers, including Timbaland, Stargate, and Rodney Jerkins, “retooled the production to add a fresh, contemporary sound that retains Jackon”s essence and integrity. In other words, my guess is they had to create the finished tracks from the various stages in which they found Jackson”s vocals. Although the release stresses that a deluxe version of “Xscape” includes all the “sourced Michael Jackson recordings in their original form,” it does not explain how fully realized the recordings were.  The title track, which was written by Jackson and Jerkins, is the only track that was “contemporized” by the producer who originally recorded it with Jackson in the studio.

We have no idea how much music Jackson left behind, but this isn”t Epic parent company Sony”s first attempt at keeping Jackson”s legacy alive through putting out previously unreleased material: in December 2010, Epic released “Michael,” which featured 10 tracks, including singles “Hold My Hand,” Hollywood Tonight,” and”Behind the Mask,” none of which did well at radio, despite the album debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. “Michael” was the seventh album released by Sony following Jackson”s June 2009 death (the rest were various compilations).

The track listing for the set will be released shortly.

Are you looking forward to “Xscape?”