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The Swag Express Acknowledges the Legacy of the late great Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

June 29, 2009


When  I first heard of Michael Jackson’s death I was working in Los Angeles. I received a phone call from my partner who told me that the King of Pop has died. I didn’t want to believe it and thought that it was a cruel joke. But not too long after I got off the phone and tuned into radio stations to hear MJ songs play on nearly every station, I knew it was true. Also, about the time that Michael Jackson was pronounced dead I was outside working on a hillside cutting weeds in Studio City, I kept hearing all of these ambulances passing by, and I thought to myself that even in the nice parts of LA, there’s always something going on. Now that I think about it. It is very much possible those ambulances were going to get MJ or were carrying MJ. The UCLA hospital is not far from Universal Studios. The death of Michael Jackson is bizarre to me. He is a figure in which I can’t really imagine being dead. He seemed alien, almost more than human at times, and yes, invincible. So to hear that he expired is hard to fathom. I talked on the phone with a friend shortly after finding out about his death, and said that the blow of Michael Jackson’s death to the world is like the 9/11 of pop culture. He got upset with me and said “how dare you compare Michael Jackson’s death to 9/11?” But he was insensitive from the start. I think he’s naive and took the intentions of my analogy out of its context. MJ’s death is the 9/11 of pop culture. It seemed to shut down and stop the world for some time. It’s been 3 days now, and everything on television is still Michael Jackson. There’s a universal sadness with most people I encounter in public who speak of it. This is a man who has made an inconceivable impact on the world. He is loved and respected by people on every continent. He is the best selling artist of all-time. And he is a true humanitarian. Despite the allegations made against him, he never stop being a beautiful person- and that is something people will always remember.

My Top 10 Favorite Michael Jackson songs:

10. “Heal The World”

It is a song that floods my head with childhood memories from elementary school. I remember at the end of school orientations and ceremonies they use to play this song, and the students would all sing along to it. I lived in South Central, Los Angeles- a place that lacked a lot of hope. But in the early ’90s when we were told as children the world is a rainbow of beautiful diverse people, this song was an anthem for prosperity. Perhaps it is the first thing that inspired the humanitarian spirit within me.

9. “Human Nature”

It’s so good of a song that both Nas and SWV had to sample it in the early ’90s. It’s a cool electronically jazzy song, that have that quintessential ’80s swag, but in a good way.

8. “Black or White

It’s an upbeat genre-bending song that celebrates the diversity of the many colorful faces of the world. It was an anthem for what I personally call the “liberal ’90s.” And the music video was pretty epic.

7. “Butterflies”

One of Michael Jackson’s more recent songs, it is a modern soul classic and shows Jackson successfully revamped with a mature sound for a 21st century audience.

6. “Billie Jean”

The story behind the song is just as interesting as the music itself. It is unbelievably catchy and timeless.

5. “Thriller”

Talking about being avant-garde for a major pop star, “Thriller” was anything but conventional. Accompanied with an epic music video, who else could turn into a werewolf and have breakdancing zombies and become the most imitated pop star of all time?

4. “In The Closet”

The song can be very tongue-in-cheek and riddled with double entendres, but it is no doubt one of Michael’s most edgy and explosive songs.

3. “Beat It”

It has one of the best guitar riffs in rock or pop history. The embodiment of the aggression and rebelliousness of rock and roll is packed into this song, and Michael proves that he can be a strong rock vocalist.

2. “Remember The Time”

It’s my favorite R’n’B song by Michael; there’s so much soul in it. The music video is bigger than life, featuring Eddie Murphey, Iman, and Magic Johnson. It also had state-of-the-art special effects that was still new to television and film at the time.

1. Rock with You

I have no definite answer as to why this is my most favorite Michael Jackson song ever, but it is soulful, funky, and magical. I love everything about it, from it’s echo of MoTown to its disco groove.

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