MJ's duet with Akon set for release
London: A duet recorded by Michael Jackson and rapper-producer Akon will go on sale on Monday -- the first single off an album of new music from the King of Pop after his death in 2009, his record label said on Thursday.
Called "Hold My Hand", the song was first recorded in 2007 and was leaked in an unfinished state on the Internet in 2008.
Jackson`s Sony/Epic record label said Akon recently completed production on the track. It will be released globally on Nov. 15 as the first official single from the album "Michael", which goes on sale on Dec. 14.
Sony and the executors of Jackson`s estate said they had a hand-written note from the "Thriller" singer, indicating his desire that "Hold My Hand" be the first single on his next project.
"The world was not ready to hear `Hold My Hand` when it leaked a couple years ago. We were devastated about it," said Akon, who was known to be working with Jackson before his sudden death in June 2009 at the age of 50.
"But its time has definitely come; now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song. I`m so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael, one of my all time idols," the music producer said in a statement.
Sony also released details of the 10 tracks on "Michael" -- the first album of new material from the singer since "Invincible" in 2001.
Two of the tracks feature rapper 50 Cent and rocker Lenny Kravitz. Sony said the songs were the work of "an esteemed group of producers along with Michael Jackson. While primarily focused on songs that Michael worked on recently, there are also earlier compelling tracks."
Monday`s release for digital sale of "Hold My Hand" follows the streaming on the Internet this week of another new track "Breaking News" from the upcoming album, which has met with initial skepticism.
Some music critics, along with a few of Jackson`s family members, have said they do not believe the vocals on "Breaking News" really belong to the entertainer.
Jackson`s estranged father Joe has said his perfectionist son would not have wanted his unfinished material released.
But last week Sony countered that after extensive research, it was confident the vocals are Jackson`s own.
"Michael" has the backing of Jackson`s official estate and is the latest commercial venture to capitalize on the singer`s renewed popularity in death. A Cirque du Soleil show, dance videogame and a DVD set of all his pop music videos is also on its way.