...Actually, probably THE greatest...ever. I don't think any one person did as much to influence popular music and culture as Michael Jackson. The man was an icon. Everyone around the world knew him and his music. And, regardless of the negativity that some in the media are choosing to focus on, for me and many others, today is a day to look back over his monumental life and career and the part it played in our lives. I am nearly 26 years old. Born in 1983, I don't remember not being aware of Michael Jackson. One of the first (if not the first) cassette tape I owned was BAD - released in 1987!! So, since just after my 4th birthday I wanted to be Michael Jackson. In the next couple of years, I made my mom buy me a little black leather jacket, I wore only one glove (so, it was a Reds batting glove - don't judge me!), and I even told her I wanted my hair cut like his. That last one she couldn't help me out with.
But, I listened to his music all the time, and the only other popular figure I can remember looking up to around that time was the other MJ...Michael Jordan. They were it. Speaking of Jordan, I still remember vividly the day that the video for "Jam" premiered. We sat around watching MTV all day and waiting for it. I was probably around 9 or 10 years old. Seeing the two of them together was something really special at that time. Jordan played ball with Jackson, Jackson tried to teach Jordan how to dance, even physically pulling his feet backward for him one at a time to simulate the Moonwalk, undoubtedly Jackson's signature dance move. One of my favorite rappers at the time, Heavy D, dropped a little verse in there too, which I could probably recite word for word to this day. Classic.
Jackson's video premieres were always a big deal though. They were always something special, usually containing something completely original that no one had ever seen before. I remember sitting around the TV with my family the night the video for Black or White premiered as well. It wasn't just on MTV, it was on network television during prime time! That is how interested everyone was to see what Michael had in store for us next. He was the entertainer of all entertainers. I mean, pretty much every single person old enough to be aware of something like entertainment and music literally all over the world - in every single country - knew who Michael Jackson was.
Hearing the news last evening was upsetting, but it still doesn't seem like it's real. However, answering multiple phone calls, seeing everyone of my friends on Facebook discussing their favorite songs, videos, etc., and reading that Twitter's servers were overwhelmed by the enormous amount of discussion on MJ, just show that I am not alone (pardon the pun). Pretty much everyone of my generation (as well as the one before) have similar memories to share. And, I'm enjoying the conversations. He really was the biggest star ever, and he will be missed.
Lastly, since this is a hip hop blog, check the link below for a MJ song remixed by none other than the great J Dilla (courtesy of 2dopeboyz).