Xscape is the second posthumous albumnote and twelfth studio album overall by Michael Jackson, released in 2014.
After Michael's tepid and controversial reception by fans and critics alike, both Epic Records and Jackson's estate went back to the drawing board for Xscape. Producer and Epic CEO L.A. Reid, who worked with Jackson before, enlisted hip hop producer Timbaland to lead a team of other record producers to remix and contemporize eight selected unreleased tracks for Xscape. Among those selected to produce the album were StarGate J-Roc, John McClain and Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, the latter of whom was the only producer from the eight songs to have been involved with the original production prior to Jackson's death.
Several of the tracks, including "Blue Gangsta," "A Place With No Name", "Slave To The Rhythm" and the title track, were leaked online years prior, and were highly requested by fans to be released on the first posthumous album, which didn't happen (Though "Slave To The Rhythm" and "Blue Gangsta" just barely missed the tracklisting for Michael).
Unlike many of Michael's tracks, Jackson's vocals lack Auto-Tune or any other type of vocal processing, allowing them to sound more natural. Also unlike Michael, a deluxe version of Xscape was released, featuring a second disc containing the original versions of the tracks, along with a few remixes and a behind-the-scenes DVD. The album was also heavily promoted by Sony, allowing Xperia Z2 owners and Music Unlimited members advance access to the album and an exclusive remix (which led to the whole thing getting leaked less than 48 hours prior to the album's official release).
Despite the leak, Xscape was met with positive reviews on release, and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200.
Not to be confused with the four-woman American R&B group Xscape, known for such 1990s hits as "Just Kickin' It," "Understanding," and "Who Can I Run To?".
Tracklist (tracks marked with a single asterisk are deluxe edition tracks and with two asterisks are special edition remixes):
- "Love Never Felt So Good" (3:48)
- "Chicago" (4:05)
- "Loving You" (3:15)
- "A Place With No Name" (5:35)
- "Slave To The Rhythm" (4:15)
- "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" (4:36)
- "Blue Gangsta" (4:14)
- "Xscape" (4:04)
- "Love Never Felt So Good" (original version) (3:21)* note
- "Chicago" (original version) (4:43)* note
- "Loving You" (original version) (3:02)* note
- "A Place with No Name" (original version) (4:56)* note
- "Slave To The Rhythm" (original version) (4:36)* note
- "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" (original version) (4:39)* note
- "Blue Gangsta" (original version) (4:17)* note
- "Xscape" (original version) (5:44)* note
- "Love Never Felt So Good" (Remix/Duet with Justin Timberlake) (4:05)*
- "Chicago" (Papercha$er Remix) (4:19)** note
Do You Know Where Your Examples Are?
- Concept Album: While not one by intention, many of the songs are centered around various love tropes, raging from the typical Tastes Like Diabetes mushiness, to Your Cheating Heart and Domestic Abuse.
- Cover Version: Overlaps with Freestyle Version and The Cover Changes the Meaning. "A Place With No Name"'s instrumentation is near identical to America's "Horse With No Name", which it's based off of. However, the lyrical content and meaning is totally different. America's version is about being isolated from stress and drama in the desert, while Jackson's version nixes the desert entirely and implies he got killed in a car accident and was sent to heaven.
- Cut Song: Invoked Trope. The entire album consists of songs that were recorded between Bad and Invincible, but did not make the final tracklistings.
- Distinct Double Album: The special edition of Xscape features a second disc with the songs in their originally recorded form, and some extra remixes.
- Let's Duet: The duet version of "Love Never Felt So Good" features Justin Timberlake.
- Love Martyr: The female protagonist of "Slave To The Rhythm". She does everything for her lover and breaks her back to support both of them and their kids, but he basically treats her like dirt.
- One-Word Title: "Chicago" and "Xscape".
- Older Than They Think: Despite Xscape being a compilation of various unreleased songs, "Love Never Felt So Good" actually received a proper release 30 years before, albeit as an R&B cover by Johnny Mathis.
- Parental Incest: The protagonist of "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" runs away from home because her stepfather was sexually abusing her for God knows how long, all the while making empty promises to buy her things.
- Posthumous Collaboration: The Album. While Rodney Jerkins and Timbaland have done work with MJ years before, others such as J-Roc and Gorgio Tuinfort have never worked with him at all.
- A straighter example would be the duet version of "Love Never Felt So Good", featuring Justin Timberlake
- Prison Break: The original version of "Xscape" has an intro that takes place inside a prison, which soon leads into a manhunt once they discover Michael had xscaped. The song is then sprinkled with sound effects of police choppers and a speeding car, presumably Michael's getaway vehicle.
- Product Placement: As I drove across on the highway/My Jeep began to rock...
- Publisher-Chosen Title: "Chicago" was originally titled "She Was Loving Me" prior to it's selection for Xscape. Since there's already two other songs on the album that use variations of "love" in their titles, the change was likely for the best.
- Record Producer: Several. Here's the full list:
- Timbaland: The leader of the album's production group, and has co-production credits on everything except "A Place With No Name" and "Xscape".
- StarGate: Remixed "A Place With No Name".
- John McClain: Remixed "Love Never Felt So Good".
- Gorgio Tuinfort: Assisted in the remix of "Love Never Felt So Good".
- J-Roc: Assisted Timbaland on all songs except "A Place With No Name" and "Xscape".
- Dewy Bunnell: Credited on "A Place with No Name" due to Jackson originally sampling "A Horse With No Name".
- Paul Anka: Co-wrote "Love Never Felt So Good" and was the one who provided the piano accompaniment in the original demo.
- L.A. Reid: Executive producer of the album, and original co-producer of "Slave To The Rhythm".
- Babyface: Original co-producer of "Slave To The Rhythm".
- Dr. Freeze: Original co-producer of "Blue Gangsta" and "A Place With No Name".
- Cory Rooney: Original writer and producer of "Chicago".
- King Solomon (no, not that one): original co-producer of "Blue Gangsta".
- Daniel Jones: Original co-producer of "Blue Gangsta".
- Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins: Original co-producer of "Xscape", and is the only producer to have been involved in any of the songs' original composition and it's remastering.
- And finally, Michael Jackson himself, who co-wrote and produced all songs, and produced the original version of "Loving You" entirely by himself.
- America's "A Horse With No Name" was the basis for "A Place With No Name", and are virtually identical in composition.
- "Xscape" features samples from Jackson's "You Rock My World", also produced by Rodney Jerkins.
- Title Track: Xscape.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Xscape.
- Your Cheating Heart: "Chicago". Michael had no idea he was sleeping with an already married woman. The woman takes full advantage of this until Michael inevitably learns the hard way.