Released in 2001 on Epic Records, this was the final full studio album of new material that Michael Jackson released before he died. It had been 4 years since he had released his remix album Blood On The Dance Floor, which contained 5 new songs, and 6 years since his last full album History. So anticipation was high. This is Michael’s longest album, with 16 songs, 14 of which he wrote or co-wrote, and co-produced.
Written with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Nora Payne, & Robert Smith, this is a midtempo but powerful track with Michael lashing out at his critics. It also features a rap verse by the Notorious B.I.G., which was added posthumously, but sounds as if it was recorded specifically for this track. Pretty good way to start the album.
Written with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Mischke Butler, & Norman Gregg is an infectious dance track about a scheming woman, which features a rap verse by FATS (I wonder whatever happened to that dude?).
Written with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, and Norman Gregg.
Another midtempo dance track about a woman that he just can’t get through to. Once again featuring a rap verse from FATS, much better than the last one.
4/BREAK OF DAWN
This soulful mellow tune was written with Dr. Freeze, and has Michael singing so seductively, it harkens back to classic ballads like Lady In My Life. This is Michael Jackson at his best.
5/HEAVEN CAN WAIT
Written with Teddy Riley, Andreao Heard, Nate Smith, Teron Beal, Eritza Laues and Kenny Quiller, another soulful ballad about turning down Heaven for his true love. Great vocals here.
6/YOU ROCK MY WORLD
Written with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, & Nora Payne, this was the first single from this album. Nice little dance beat with a catchy chorus. It feels like a modern version of the kind of songs he did on Off The Wall.
This midtempo ballad was written by Andre Harris and Marsha Ambrosius. I recall not caring for it when I first bought this album. But then later it got released as a radio single (which included a rap verse from Eve) and it eventually grew on me. It’s got a nice little neo-soul feel to it.
A power ballad, written by Michael himself. A really interesting song. He starts off singing acapella and has the song continues various instruments are added until the song builds to a powerful crescendo, with backing vocals by the Andraé Crouch Gospel Choir, before ending acapella again.
This thumping dance track was written with Teddy Riley, Jaron Henson and Tyrese (back when he was mainly a singer, not an actor). This song was written for the clubs, where it would definitely serve it’s purpose of making you dance, with Michael singing under some kind of vocal distortion machine. Other than that this song never really connected with me.
10/YOU ARE MY LIFE
Written with Carole Bayer Sager, John McClain, & Babyface this is another ballad that sounds like the kind of ballad Babyface would sing. It’s pretty good, starts off mellow, then builds up near the end with Michael shouting out.
Written with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, & Bernard Belle, this rock song has Michael singing against the tabloids and a paparazzi, blaming them for Lady Diana’s death among other things. The best part of this song is the blistering guitar work from Slash, but otherwise it falls flat to me.
12/DON’T WALK AWAY
This ballad was written with Teddy Riley, Richard Stites, & Reed Vertelney. These are some of Michael’s most emotional vocals since She’s Out Of My Life. A really touching song.
Written by R. Kelly, this ballad is even better than You Are Not Alone, in my opinion, and is my favorite song on this album. The fact that it was not released as a single along with a video, just baffles me. This could have been a mega-hit.
14/THE LOST CHILDREN
Michael wrote this midtempo song, and sings it with heart. The backing vocals in the chorus sound like a children’s choir, and play well to the effect.
Written with Teddy Riley, Gil Cang, Jasmine Quay, Geoffrey Williams, this midtempo song has a nice latin flavor to it, and features the legendary Carlos Santana on guitar. Another fantastic song that showed Michael’s musical versatility.
Written with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels this dance track features vocals added from Rod Serling. A great track with powerful beats and some inspired vocals from Michael, singing this spooky subject matter.
In my opinion, THIS is the album that HISTORY should have been. It’s got ballads and dance tracks that feel like natural progressions from, and modern updates on, songs that Michael recorded back on Off The Wall, Thriller & Dangerous. Lack of follow-up singles, videos and promotion made this album underrated, but even with the two underwhelming songs (IN MY OPINION), I feel that overall this is one of Michael’s bests pieces of work.