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Friday, 26 December 2014


A Tale Of Two M.J's.


"I perform like Mike/Any one, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson"-Notorious B.I.G. (Puff Daddy-Victory)

1990. When the clock struck 0.00 on January the 1st, leaving the eighties behind like mullets and Miami Vice rolled up suit sleeves, we where in for one hell of a heaven sent 10 years. The decade was dominated by a golden era in all things entertainment. From movies to music and sport to everything in between it even inspired and holds influence on what we see and hear today, a few days away from hitting 0.00 on a decade and a half of 15 unbelievable years into the new millennium. Sure whatever age and era you belong to you'll claim there was no time like your time, but even 70's and 80's babies know there was nothing like the nostalgic 90's. A time dinosaurs ruled the Hollywood world and Buzz Lightyear was the biggest selling, hottest off the shelf toy to find under your tree at Christmas. Now this year what's on T.V. this December 25th? 'Toy Story'! And what is one of the biggest and most anticipated movies of next year? The new 'Jurassic Park'! Go figure! Now through all the major moves and big blockbusters of a decade that illuminated more than Times Square, there where two men who defined this age, theirs and everything else around them and the years that came before and after them. One silhouette spun and worked his feet like the greatest dancer you've ever seen. The other left everyone around him falling at his feet as he hit the deck. One hit the high notes as the other soared and scored. The first one jumping into the silhouette of a man holding a basketball like the torch of the Statue of Liberty. The second leaving everyone stunned as he took one small step for man and a giant leap for music-kind as he moonwalked away from them.

The King of Pop. The King of the Rock. Michael and M.J. M.J. and Mike. Two of the greatest of all-time. Especially in entertainment. As for their loves of basketball and music. They didn't just change the game...they transcended it. Cultural phenomenon's. Global icons. If Mars really attacked like 'Independence Day' then we would have had to take them to two of our leaders. Two who we'll never see anyone quite like. Never duplicated. The original, genuine articles. Every newspaper read their name, front and back. Radios and television sets you couldn't escape them if you where tuned in. Imagine if the internet was as much an influence then as it is now. Social media may be the age now, but back then it was their time. Dominant isn't even the word for this decade they the most dominant way. One with a number 23. The other with a silver glove. They both moved like nothing you've seen before. One across the floor like he was walking on the same air the other flew through. They where both so big in music and sport they had to come together and collaborate. For themselves they even made movies. From 'Space Jam' to 'Moonwalker'. They both had famous friends that they could count on, from Chris Tucker to Spike Lee's Mars Blackmon. Even R. Kelly bridged their mainstream gap between the city of Chicago and music. Showing Jackson that he wasn't alone and proving the belief that Jordan could fly. Still nobody took it higher than these guys. As all the people, still to this day trying to imitate from the streetball to the corner can almost authentically attest. These perfect pairs best moments still play today like retirement and death was just the end of a movie. Their golden eras still shine. Even their records break records. Others may come. From Prince to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Bruno Mars. But none are chosen quite like this.

Before their time came the wonder years. When Michael Jordan was a boy he was swinging baseball bats with his father as well as hanging from rims (eventually Jordan would retire from basketball for a year to pursue his late fathers dream of him playing baseball to honour him after his death). Meanwhile a young Michael Jackson was singing with his brothers in Jackson 5 to the tune of 'Rocky Robin' and their own animated, television show. Becoming a megastar already behind tracks like 'I Want You Back' and his youthful matured and poignantly haunting rendition of 'Aint No Sunshine' that still resonates today. As little Mike, Tito and co grew into the maturing Jackson's they blamed it on the boogie as everybody could feel it from the Four Tops to the Commodores. As these guys graduated so did the other Michael after years of the Baby Blue in North Carolina. Years that saw him earn the tar on the heels of his sneakers by hitting game winners and the buzz of the hype that came from high school and would continue after the NBA draft where this new school guy began educating everybody starting with Sam Bowie. The eighties where this pairs coming out party. Where they'd show the whole world exactly what they had more in store of. In fact this was their decade too...especially for one of the Michael's. Jordan was busy winning dunk contests, whether during All-Star weekend or not. All whilst showing the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson and the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird that there was a new kid in town. Even hitting an incredible 63 youthful points in the legendary Boston Garden against one of the storied Celtics most successful and dominant teams of all time. No wonder the legend of Larry called number 23, "God disguised as Michael Jordan". Meanwhile music where treating the other M.J. like the second coming. After his 1979 breakout this guy was truly 'Off The Wall', not stopping 'till he got enough. Michael and Quincy Jones helped score the best and most successful pop album of all time in 'Thriller', while Jordan was making those on court. Only nine tracks, but with classic songs like 'Wanna Be Startin' Something', 'Beat It', 'Billie Jean', 'Human Nature' and that title track and THAT video who needs more with some of the biggest songs of all time. Even the crazy controversy surrounding his black to white skin colour change couldn't stop this megastar on 'Bad', as 'The Way You Make Me Feel', 'Liberian Girl', 'Another Part Of Me', 'Man In The Mirror', 'I Just Cant Stop Loving You', 'Smooth Criminal' and 'Leave Me Alone' added more greatest hits to the vault with another classic album for the record. As Jacko was leaning forward, Jordan was making everyone else lean back.

Then came the 1990's. This was their time. With sneakers and C.D.'s selling out of stores worldwide. Michael Jackson may have only released two albums this decade...but boy where they two albums. Besides 'Thriller' and 'Bad' where still selling like they came out yesterday. Still 'Dangerous' was the 'Jam'. Songs like 'Give In To Me', 'Who Is It', 'Why You Want To Trip On Me' and the socially conscious 'Heal The World' (a trait this singer is underrated for) where gravitating and groundbreaking. But it was his Statue Of Liberty moment to the Slash riff of that song where Michael proved he and we shouldn't care if you're 'Black and White' in the transitional video for the game changing, MTV age legend. Plus with Laker legend Magic Johnson in the video of 'Remember The Time' along with comedian Eddie Murphy dressed as phaeroes Michael showed he knew hoops like any other M.J. fan. Meanwhile Michael Jordan was taking the torch from Magic and his Showtime Lakers and switching the ball mid -air to score. Running through points totals and titles with a shrug as he stampeded the Chicago Bulls to their first championship and then three-peat. Ball in hand, victory cigar in the other. Smiling with legendary Zen coach Phil Jackson who was the Quincy Jones to his own thriller production. But then, following the tragic murder of his father, the greatest player to ever play basketball stepped away from the game at the peak of his powers. But then this is where 'History' would be made...'Past, Present and Future'. Screaming into a budget and record breaking video with Janet Jackson out of space one minute and walking around the streets of Rio with Spike Lee the next for 'We Don't Care About Us' Michael was back. Making records with everyone from the Notorious B.I.G. ('This Time Around') and even basketball player Shaquille O'Neal ('2 Bad'), who was probably just thankful another M.J. wasn't torturing him on court. Covering the Beatles ('Come Together') and signing R. Kelly songs ('You Are Not Alone) this historic feat had it all. Even a beautiful 'Stranger In Moscow' and a Christmas number one, record breaking, call to climate change 'Earth Song' (he told you). This album was bigger than the statue of him taken down London's River Thames in Tower Bridge separating promotion. Meanwhile in Chicago, just when they where thinking about erecting a classic statue in M.J.'s honour, Michael came back too, to the tune of three more championships shared with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and all capped off by one more last shot that was a true history, storybook ending.

Still their collective stories weren't without some dark chapters. From gambling addiction to allegations of sexual abuse that still hang like the worst cloud. Also it seemed like when the 90's came to a new millennium close so did the windows of their prime. Still in 2001, Michael Jordan came out of retirement again, this time for the Washington Wizards, donating his entire playing salary valiantly to the 9/11 relief fund. Around the same time Michael Jackson came back with the album 'Invincible', his worst selling one at that time proved not to live up to its name but had strong standouts like 'You Rock My World', 'Break Of Dawn' and 'Cry', just like the 'Blood On The Dancefloor' remix album had with the likes of 'Ghost' and 'Morphine'. Jordan wasn't so invincible either, showing the coming to 40 age and legs of a man heading towards one last retirement. But believe us for both of them the magic was still there in more than just a few spells of their trucks of the trade. Just like their inspiration is today to the new school of Kevin Durant's and Ne-Yo's. Its a legend and legacy that always lasts. Michael Jordan is still making basketball moves as the majority owner of the buzzing Charlotte Hornets ballclub and he's doing a Spalding job while even years after his tragic death Michael Jackson is proving that this isn't it. Another new album ('XSCAPE') came q this year and brought with it one of his newest and biggest hits from the demo floor with the dance floor fond 'Love Never Felt So Good' featuring another prodigy of his legacy, Justin Timberlake. All the inspiration and influence that still lasts beyond this day all cumulated in a classic collaboration of Aerosmith and Run-DMC, rock and rap, wall and barrier breaking standards to begin their 90's. As a basketball flew through a glass window into a factory where M.J. was dancing he threw it back, buildings across to a nearby gym for a no-look swish. Michael Jordan couldn't believe it, like the no-look back heel. Then as the two came together for some one-on-one, Jordan schooled and tricked Jackson on court for some fun and games before Michael showed the other how it was done on his wood deck, teaching him how to really 'Jam' and dance in this video. It's not too hard. Just look. As the two dance into the faded out shadows of this lights out number its a poignant moment for the two power players of a generation and game changing time. M.J. and Michael, the last names are of little consequence to the initials they engraved on their games. As these two silhouettes strut and slide across the floor, many will remember their master moves for many moons to come. Now that's the jam.

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