Here Are 3 Examples of Michael Jackson’s Cutthroat Shrewdness in L.A. Reid’s New Memoir

Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson
AFP/Getty Images
Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson
AFP/Getty Images

R&B mega producer L.A. Reid is on a press tour promoting his memoir, Sing to Me, and in it he describes a few encounters with Michael Jackson that show the cutthroat side of the King of Pop, the New York Post reports.


1. When Michael Jackson got wind that his brother Jermaine Jackson was signed to and working with up-and-coming music producers Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, the King of Pop invited the producing duo to his Neverland ranch. Michael wanted to work with them, too, which, to Jermaine, felt as if Michael was poaching them. That's how the song "Word to the Badd!"—Jermaine's diss record of sorts against Michael—came about. Reid quotes Jermaine as saying this:

"I want to make a song about my brother. I want to talk about how he's treated me through the years, like how every time I find producers like you guys, he takes my producers. He doesn't care about his family or anybody but himself."

2. When Reid and Edmonds were at Neverland discussing music with Michael, Reid says, they saw how giddy Michael got while watching his then-rival Prince mess up. Michael put on footage of Prince experiencing technical difficulties during a concert and laughed at it: 

"Prince [couldn't] make his guitar work, frantically stripping off his shirt and trying tricks with the microphone stand and making all these poses. After Michael's dazzling star turn, Prince fell as flat as he could, and Michael enjoyed laughing at the video. …

"After that, he put on a scene from Prince's movie Under the Cherry Moon, the artsy black-and-white bomb he made after Purple Rain, and he laughed some more at Prince."

3. Going back to his ongoing feud with his brother Jermaine, Michael didn't care that Jermaine was upset about how Reid and Edmond would be working with Michael. Jermaine apparently threatened to leave LaFace Records (Reid and Edmonds' label). Michael told the producing duo not to worry, since Jermaine was contractually obligated to fulfill his duties as an artist:

When Reid told Michael what happened, the superstar replied, "He'll get over it."

" 'That's not really the problem,' [Reid] said. 'The problem was that [Jermaine] wants off the label now.'

" 'Did he sign a contract?' asked Michael.

" 'Yes,' [Reid] said.

" 'Then he'll have to live with it because those are the rules,' Michael said and walked out."


Reid said that all of this shocked him because it flew in the face of Michael Jackson's caring, soft-spoken public persona: "That Michael Jackson was one shrewd man," Reid wrote. "He was not wrong, but you didn't expect that from Peter Pan. You expect a little compassion or something. No. Cold as ice."

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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