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VIBE digs into the archives for a candid 2001 interview with the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson

Interview by: Regina Jones

VIBE: How does it feel to be re-entering the market and competing in sales with likes of ‘N Sync and Britney, kids who were being born at the height of your fame?

Michael Jackson: It’s a rarity I think/ I had #1 records in 1967 and 69 and still entered the charts in 2001 in #1. I don’t think any other artist has that range. It’s a great honor, I’m happy. I don’t what else to say. I’m glad people accept what I do.

What are your thoughts on the current state of R&B?

I don’t categorize music. Music is Music. They change the word R&B to rock and roll. It’s always been, from Fats Domino to Little Richard, to Chuck Berry. How can we discriminate, it is what it is, it’s great music, you know.

What are your feelings about Hip-Hop?

I like a lot of it, a lot of it. I like the music. I don’t like the dancing that much. It looks like you’re doing aerobics.

What made you put Biggie on your album?

We were looking for a rap part and it wasn’t my idea, actually it was Rodney Jerkins, one of the writer producers working on the album. It was my idea to put a rap part on the song. And he said, I know just the perfect one – Biggie Smalls. He put it in and it worked perfectly. It was a rap that was never heard before.

Why did you choose Jay-Z on the remix of the first single?

Because he’s hip, he’s with kids today. They like his work. He tapped into the nerve of popular culture. He’s the new thing, the kids like him. It just made good sense.

What was it like for you to appear at New York’s hip hop concert Summer Jam as Jay Z’s guest?

I just showed up and gave him a hug. It was tumultuous explosion of applause and stomping, it was a lovely, lovely welcome and I was happy about that. It was a great feeling – the love, the love.

What are your thoughts on artists who emulate you such as Usher, Sisqo, Ginuwine, Destiny’s Child?

I don’t mind at all. Because, these are artists who grew up on my music. When you grow up listening to somebody you admire you tend to become them. You emulate them, to look like them, to dress like them. When I was little I was James Brown, I was Sammy Davis Jr., so I understand it, it’s a compliment.

Did you know that you were creating classics while recording Thriller and Off The Wall, both classics that hold up today?

Yes, not to be arrogant, but yes. Because I knew great material when I hear it and it just melodically and sonically and musically is so moving. It keeps the promise. That’s a special piece.