Words by Keenan Higgins, Amber McKynzie and Shawn Grant
Today marks nine years since we lost Michael Jackson, the undisputed King of Pop and arguably the King of Music altogether. The pioneering icon paved the way for each and every one of your faves, whether that be the number one diva in this game for a minute, a crooner that stays drippin’ in finesse, or your favorite rapper that can spit a fire 16 off the rip. Yes, your boy MJ is very much a part of Hip-Hop culture and a key figure in pioneering the movement to where it is today. Need proof? Bet.
For the ninth anniversary since we lost the King, take a look at nine times Michael Jackson showed us his gangsta, while still remaining the kind-hearted, world-loving, hit-making legend that we regard him as today:
(June/July 1995) Michael Jackson covers the summer 1995 issue of VIBE Magazine, styled in a Kangol hat, baggy Tommy Hilfiger gear and Karl Kani by Kidada Jones. The daughter of Quincy Jones was working as a style editor at the hip-hop publication, and gave MJ a steez that nobody could’ve imagine he’d rock so effortlessly.
(June 2001) Jay-Z pulls off one of the biggest boss moves in his career by bringing MJ out during his set at HOT 97 Summer Jam 2001. After sharing this moment with the King of Pop, there was no denying that Hov was the official King of Hip-Hop.
(June 1995) A once-in-a-lifetime collaboration happens: Michael Jackson brings The Notorious B.I.G. in the studio to collaborate on the song “This Time Around,” a deep cut from the second disc of his HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I album. Who would’ve thought that we’d lose both of these legends to tragic, avoidable circumstances.
(October 2001) Eve jumps on the Track Masters Remix to “Butterflies,” the standout single from the 2001 MJ album Invincible. It unintentionally ended up being the final album that he would release while alive. The leading lady of Ruff Ryders opened the song with bars about the woman who has her man all caught up in the head, and held her own alongside the King.
(July 1992) The video for “Jam” — the fourth single off MJ’s 7x platinum album Dangerous — features Heavy D and cameos from Kris Kross, Naughty by Nature and Michael Jordan. Basketball, Hip-Hop’s sport of choice, was also prominent in the video as it was filmed on a basketball court and the one GOAT named Mike taught the hoops GOAT Michael Jordan how to moonwalk on the hardwood.
(March 1983) MJ unites the Bloods and Crips for his iconic “Beat It” video. Artists like Michael Jackson have the ability to bridge people across conflict, and he did just that. In a time where the divide between Crips and Bloods was intense, the legend managed to bring members of the rival gangs together for an effort of peace, even if it was momentary. With LAPD on hand, the shoot was executed without any injuries or incidents.
(June 1995) After being investigated for child molestation by District Attorney Tom Sneddon in 1993, Michael Jackson and his family believed the judicial official had an ax to grind after the case reached a financial settlement. On his HIStory album, MJ hit the studio and recorded what many call the Tom Sneddon diss track. Why? Because the hooks sings, “Tom Sneddon is a cold man” four times. Michael words left fans questioning whether or not Sneddon was a member of the KKK because according to MJ, “his mother never taught him right anyway.”
(1993) That time he taught Oprah how to beatbox. There are no words for how amazingly dope this moment was— just watch and see these two Black icons for the culture sharing the same space and having a good time doing so.
(∞) His ongoing “Spirited Competition” with Prince is one that was heavily known, documented, and quite frankly fun to watch. We only wish these two legendary contemporaries could’ve jumped in the studio together, but there’s many reasons and factors why that may have never happened — Quincy Jones has the best theory, though. See below for the peak moment in their friendly competition:
R.I.P MJ… Your memory will forever live on — in Hip-Hop and across the globe!