When Biggie met Michael
The Notorious B.I.G. may have only had a few years in the spotlight before his life was tragically cut short, but he still managed to find time to collaborate with another legendary artist, Michael Jackson. The pair hooked up for “This Time Around”—a cut off Jackson’s 1995 album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. Earlier this year, a user on Reddit found a forum post where an engineer recalled the session between the two superstars.
In the original post, which was from audio site Gearslutz back in June 2009, the engineer explained how he and producer Dallas Austin recorded Big’s vocals. According to the engineer, Michael wanted Biggie on his album. Biggie came to the studio and wanted to meet Michael, but they asked Big to record his verse first.
“During his first take, Dallas and I looked at each other, because it was spot on,” writes the engineer. “I was impressed, and so was Dallas. We listened back, and Dallas was like, ‘Wow, I think we got it.’ As I recall, we took another take for good measure, but I’m fairly certain that we ended up using the first take.”
Afterwards, Big once again asked to meet Michael. In the post, the engineer recalls:
Simply for security, Michael’s security would enter and make sure that no one was in the room that shouldn’t be, and once that was confirmed (it was just me, Biggie and Dallas), Michael came in. Biggie nearly broke out in tears…I could tell how much this meant to him. Well, Michael could have this effect on anyone, even the most hardcore rappers! Biggie was tripping up on his words, bowing down and telling Michael how much his music had meant to him in his life. Michael was, as always, very humble and kept smiling while Biggie just went on and on how much he loved Michael. I watched Biggie just become this big butterball of a man, and it was really very sweet to witness.
According to the post, Michael then asked to hear the song and loved it, thanking Biggie for coming to the studio.
“Biggie asked rather sheepishly whether he could get a photo, and Michael agreed,” writes the engineer. “A shot was taken, we listened again, and Michael thanked Biggie. Michael said goodbye and stepped out, leaving Biggie standing there looking completely stunned.”
On the track, Big and Michael both talk about his struggles with fame and how it’s made them weary of critics out to get them. MJ’s verses are uncharacteristically aggressive as he seemingly takes shots at the media:
Though you really want to get me
Somebody’s out, somebody’s out to get me
You really want to fix me, hit me
But this time around I’m taking no shit
Meanwhile, Biggie’s verse is just as paranoid as he deals with his then-newfound fame:
Listen I got problems of my own
Flashing cameras taps on my phone
Even in my home I ain’t safe as I should be
“This Time Around” was released as the fourth single to HIStory and peaked at No. 23 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.
In addition to Biggie, Jackson also worked with rappers like Wreckx-N-Effect, Heavy D, and JAY-Z in his lifetime before passing away in 2009. Earlier this year, Jackson’s vocals from a 1983 recording session were featured on Drake’s Scorpioncut “Don’t Matter To Me.” (Genius)