Chapter 4

Chapter 4

I really want to hear what Prince sent me. While his track has absolutely nothing to do with what I'm trying to do, I'll listen to it anyway. I unlocked the door to the house, "hey, baby!" I called.


"Hey, Michael! Me and Bubbles are in here!" Shayla called from the living room. I went in there to find Bubbles sitting on Shayla's lap as they watched a movie.


I kissed her cheek, "I don't have much time. Prince sent me a track to listen to. Hey, Bubbles," I rubbed his head.


"Have you talked to him about 'I'm Bad' yet?"


"Q did. Prince sent me this track in response, but I don't even know why. I'm going to listen to it anyway and tell him what I think. Maybe he wants us to do a duet too or something," I shrugged. "Anyway, I'll be out in the studio listening to this. See you in a few. Be good for Shayla, Bubbles!" I made my way to the studio and hurried to put the tape in the cassette player. Once I got it in, I hit play. Prince played the guitar and crooned some lyrics for four minutes... I don't understand why he sent me this. Does he expect a duet or something? This song is too slow in comparison to what I have for "I'm Bad." I picked up the phone and dialed Prince's number.


"Hello?" He answered.


"Prince, it's Michael."


"Hey, Michael. Did you get the track I sent to Quincy?" He asked.


"Yeah, I just listened to it."


"And...?" He pressed.


"I like it, but why did you send it to me?"


"You said you want a duet. I sent you a song for a duet."


"Q didn't tell you I already had a song?"


"He told me you wanted a duet, so I sent you one. What song did you have?"


I rolled my eyes. Prince can be so rude sometimes, "It's this song I've been writing for quite some time. It's called, 'I'm Bad'"


"What?" Prince laughed out loud. I rolled my eyes. "Michael, you ain't bad!" He laughed again. "Whatchu writing a song like that for?"


"That's just it, Prince. New year, new album, new persona."


"I get that, but I don't know where you got this idea that you're bad from. Far from it," he laughed.

I scoffed, "look, do you want to be on the song or not?"


"That depends," he laughed. "Now, Michael, I'm bad. What do I look like being on a song with you and it's clear that between the two of us I'm the one that's actually bad?"


"That's the point I'm trying to bring to you. It'll be a faceoff for who's more bad, between the two biggest stars of the decade. This will give the fans a chance to really decide who's bad." Clearly, he was not taking me seriously.


He laughed, "I'm not interested."


I was kind of taken aback, "any reason why?"


"I'm just not interested. It's a joke."


"But it's not. Here's how we'll do the promo for it. I'll have my manager, Frank, plant some stories in the tabloids and both of our camps criticize the other. Frank will tell Rolling Stone how I'm confused about all of this because I consider you and me to be friends. Epic will release the song and the video, and both of our fans will finally be able to see us duel it out and both settle to see who is really 'bad.'" I laid it out for him.


His end was silent for a moment, "I'll consider it. Send me the demo and I'll let you know."


Yes! "Alright, I'll have Q send you a copy. How soon will you be able to get back with me on it?"


"As soon as I get it, I'll let you know. We can meet up and talk about it."


"Sounds good. Thanks, man."


"You're welcome," he hung up. I know this is going to be the song of the decade. Shoot, years to come! Me and Prince on one song? It's unheard of and I can only imagine what everyone will have to say about it.


VII

September 15, 1986


"Shayla, are you coming to the studio with me?" I called from the shower.


"Yeah! I'm just getting Bubbles dressed," she responded. I'm glad Prince was able to listen to the demo and get right back with me. I'm excited to discuss the song with him and get a chance to record today. I got out of the shower and hurried to get dressed. Bill would be here shortly to take us to Westlake. "Michael, Bubbles shirt isn't fitting," Shayla showed me.


"It fits, he just has a big head. Don't you, Bubbles?" I laughed as I put on my own shirt and went over to them to help her. I signed "put your hands up" to him to which he did instantly. I put his arms through the holes and put a little extra effort into getting his head through the head of his shirt. Once I got his head through, Shayla put on his pants.


"You know, this is great practice for when we have a baby," she joked.


"You're telling me!"


"But for now, Bubbles is my baby," she smiled at him. "Ready?" She asked me.


"Yeah. I'll meet you all downstairs," I said as I put my shoes on. She picked up Bubbles and went downstairs. I looked in the mirror one last time to check my hair. I'm liking this wet and wild look I have going on. Shayla does too. She can't keep her hands off of me.


VII


Once we got to the studio, I opened the door for Shayla and Bubbles to get out. Shayla put him on the ground, so he could walk. As soon as we got in the studio, Prince, Q, John, and Bruce were seated waiting on us.


"Sorry, we're late. We had to get Bubbles dressed," I apologized.


"Oh," Prince smirked. "He brought the monkey with him," he laughed.


I ignored his sly comment, "Shayla, this is Prince," I introduced her to him.


She smiled and extended her hand to him, "it's so nice to finally meet you, Prince. I'm a fan of your work. Purple Rain was phenomenal! I've never seen a more beautiful body of work." Okay... She's being too friendly right now.


Prince kissed her hand, "the pleasure is all mine, Shayla. Why haven't I met you before?"


"I-"


I cut her off, "what did you think of the track, Prince?" They both looked at me.


"Um, Michael, you interrupted the lady."


"'The lady' would be my wife, Prince," as much as I didn't want to say it, I had to let it be known when it comes to him. Prince can get beside himself at times.


"Your wife? No one ever told me Michael Jackson was married. How long have you been keeping this a secret and how could you possibly keep someone as beautiful as this a secret?" He took her hand and twirled her around. Shayla couldn't help but blush. "If I were you, I would be showing her off to the world, not hiding her."


"I'm not hiding her. I just don't want her in the spotlight. We've been keeping it on the low for a while now. I'm telling you of our marriage in confidence, so I'd like for it to stay that way," I gave him a look.


"Sure, Michael. I won't spoil your little secret," he winked at her.


"Anyway," I sighed. "What did you think of 'I'm Bad?'"


"Oh," he sat down. "I'm not doing it," he shrugged.


"What?! You said you would!"


"No... I said I would consider it. I never said I was going to sing it with you."


I rolled my eyes, "your ego is entirely too big to be such a tiny man in heels. Come down to earth a little, why don't you?"


"The first line in this song is, 'your butt is mine.' Now, who's going to sing that to who? Because you're sure not singing that to me and I'm sure not going to sing that to you," he cut me a look.


"That line isn't even that deep."


"To you," he pointed at me. "Look, the song will do fine without me. You're Michael Jackson. You'll get that number one spot you want with no problem."


"I'm not worried about that. It's going to be number one with or without you. I just figured this would be great for both of us career-wise. If you and I came together on one song, that could be earth defying."


"I'm not convinced, because I've already released eight albums that are doing well by the way. I've done one movie and currently working on a second. I'm doing great over here. Then you've released music since you were a kid. Thriller got you all kinds of recognition. It looks like you're doing good on your end too. I think we're doing great on our own. We don't need to come together to figure out who's the best, because it's evident that the fans have already chosen that for themselves. Besides," he shrugged. "The way you've got 'I'm Bad' written, you have it set up to make you look better and my ego will not allow that." Suddenly an awkward silence overcame the room.


"Prince, can you just listen to the song again. This could be huge!" I finally said.


"For you. This song isn't about me. It's about you and your so-called proclamation that you're better than me. I can't win on this song. It's set up for you and I'm not doing it. Do you need anything else from me? Because I have another meeting in an hour," he looked at his watch. I waved him off.


"I think you're good to go, Prince," Q said.


Prince went over to Shayla, "it was so nice to meet you, Shayla. Michael has my number if you ever want to call me," he kissed her hand again. He left without saying a word to me. Good riddance. I'm getting tired of his ego anyway.


"So, now what?" Q asked me.


"I can do the song without him. It's not like I was depending on him to be on this song. I just thought it would be a history-making moment," I shrugged. "To be honest, I was just trying to help himout. I can make history on my own."


"Now, Michael," Shayla chimed in. "Don't you think your ego is starting to rear its ugly head now? Prince has made history on his own as well. Let's not compare two great artists."


"See, at least I'm humble with it, babe. This guy walks in on his six-inch heels acting all big and bad. He ain't bad. He's just a little guy who makes up for being little with his ego. He's nothing to me."


"You say that now, but you were literally just begging him to be on 'I'm Bad.'" She came over to me and sat on my lap.


"I wasn't begging. I was just making sure."


"Q, did that sound like begging to you?" She asked him. He nodded. "John? Bruce? Did that sound like begging?"


"Definitely begging," John agreed.


"Now, you go in that microphone room and record that song the best way I know you know how to. You said it would go number one. Prince said it would go number one without him and I completely agree. You show him and make that song go number one, baby." She kissed me.


"Aww, sooky sooky now," Q teased. "You better listen to the Mrs., Michael." He laughed.


I blushed, "okay, baby. Let me rework these lyrics and I'll be right in there."


She whispered in my ear, "and if you sing it right the first time, I'll give you a little something in the closet back there."


"It's impossible to get it in the first take, babe."


"Well, make it possible," she winked and exited the room. All the guys looked at me.


"Um, let's work on these lyrics," I got my notebook out and started rewriting the lyrics.

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