By Edwin Korir
A genius? No doubt.
From a young boy born in Gary Indiana; singing Ben for his rat pet in 1972 to teaming with Quincy Jones to produce Thriller the best selling album of all time then trying to find his childhood in Neverland but eventually his facial surgeries, a skin ailment, serious weight loss, and god knows what else made him look like both a vampire and a mummy.
That was MJ, the musical genius who eventually turned to be a freak just like Bertrand Russell or Leo Tolstoy. I did not at first enjoy MJ’s songs but when I was in F1 back some time, I heard just bit it witch made me enjoy his songs. Eventually I started listening to his songs and billle jean and the way you make me feel made me feel like I was a teenager in the 80’s. His musical genius is unquestionable but like all other geniuses his social life was not exemplary.
Wacko Jacko as the British tabloids called him changed the music world, he transcended race before tiger woods, Oprahy Winfrey, and finally Barrack Obama. My friend Samuel Chebii must have been devastated for apart from his chess has lost his two favorite musicians in a year; Lucky Dube and now MJ.
For a while he was “king of pop” no two hours in classic 100 would go with out a MJ song playing. No soul night at the Simba Saloon in Carnivore would be complete with out one of his songs. Before MJ came James Brown and The Beatles after him, there is none. Changing from a handsome black man to an old white woman one has to ask which was more imaginative his music or his persona.
This young black kid who made his name with the Jackson Five eventually married Elvis Presley daughter and bought the Beatles song catalogue which meant every time one of their tunes was played he received half the royalty.
He made trademarks of the music industry; his dances especially his moonwalk, his jeweled glove and his record setting sales made him Mwenyewe. He acquired a 2,700acre ranch with funfair and zoo attached just like the Masai Mara, which he named Neverland after the fictional Nirvana of peter pan.
He sold more than 100 million albums in his solo career; Jua Cali has only sold 200,000. His tours were the biggest on the planet they averaged over 200 million per tour. However, whatever he did MJ just reenacted his dance as a central figure of long racial horror show. To the uplifting view, enunciated after his death by the likes of Rev. Al Sharptorn, he was a Tran racial icon, a black person whom whites took to their hearts and blackness came to seem incidental.
Then his darker phase began. Constantly he was confronted with charges of child molestation. He was energetic, charismatic, and supremely gifted, but sexually unassertive unlike swaggeringly black male performers from Joe to Jay Z. In 1993 MJ settled a child molestation charge for 22 million dollars and retreated to Neverland only venturing forth it seemed, for more cosmetic surgery or skin whitening treatments.
With the money he had made, he blew away more than 1 billion dollars in 20 years. Where the money went is not clear, though the 6 million dollars binge in a single store. Recorded by Martin Bashir in his 2003 documentary , suggested retail therapy on an imperial scale, even Moi wasn’t that extravagant.
This ultimately led to his financial problems, but MJ was in complete denial of the financial reality until he was shown an affidavit. In 2005, he decamped from Neverland and went to the
Everyone agrees that MJ was anything but a basket case by now. He then moved to
Randy Philips the CEO of AEG then set up the
The come back was scheduled for
MJ’s hope of a come back and that of 800’000 fans including Mehul, must have been that their thrust in pops most charismatic but accidental prone peter pan wouldn’t turn out to be a grand illusion after all.
Before that, MJ had remaked himself as American dream of innocence and belovednesss. His constant face surgeries and skin bleaches made him confusing. Just like the skeletal, pale faced zombies he danced with in thriller, when you watch it today, it appears to be a whole stage full of Michael Jackson’s, the real one now the least familiar looking, the most unreal. When he died, he was eulogized like an angel with Kobe Brayant, Al Sharptorn, Mariah Carey e.t.c.
But as an artist he was a genius, Jackson and his legendary producer Quincy Jones fused disco, soul, and pop in a manner that can be heard everyday in a station in
Then night before he died he was rehearsing for the O2 tour, people around him were wondering if he was really up to it. He was 50 years old and past his puer aeternus, he had health problems and his peak was 15 years ago.
Whatever his life felt like from the inside, it was manifestly the work of a genius, whether you want to call it a triumph or a freak show.
MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON
1958 to 2009