Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, would’ve turned 60 on Wednesday (August 29). Though he died 10 years ago, Jackson and his immortal voice have experienced a renewed place in the spotlight in 2018 thanks in part to an eerie, downbeat vocal sample used by Drake on his Scorpion album track “Don’t Matter to Me.”
Jackson’s part, it was revealed around the time the song dropped, dates back to a 1983 recording session with songwriter Paul Anka. The snippet got shopped around to other artists, including Tyga, a new piece in the Los Angeles Times reports, before Drake locked it down for Scorpion.
“Drake was so passionate about it,” John Branca, the co-executor of Jackson’s estate, told the paper. “It was like how could we not do this one? It fit so well.”
The ghost of Jackson’s voice has also brought with it a string of headlines this week. After fans filed a class-action lawsuit against his estate and his record label, claiming an impersonator sang certain vocal parts on the first album released after Jackson’s death, titled Michael, in 2010, the suit was recently thrown out by appeals court judges.
The piece goes on to quote Sony executive Rob Stringer on how the mining of Jackson’s unreleased catalog has shifted strategies away from new albums in the age of streaming. “We are looking at one-off songs, and in this streaming world that works because it’s a track-based world,” he said. “There are a few gems out there that we may unearth individually over the next months and years, but we’re also very, very careful to make sure the fan base doesn’t feel like they’ve been asked yet again to buy material they have.”
In other words, stay tuned for the next Jackson single — you never know when it could drop (or who might just pop up on it). You also never know who might be using beloved Jackson tracks for their own sampling purposes.