MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Taj Jackson
MJJC: Many believe MJ wasn't close to his family for many years before he passed. Some have put the timeline as far back as Off the wall. Janet has confirmed this in her interviews prior to his passing, while Latoya & Jermaine book reinforced this notion. Can you tell us how close was MJ to his family in general? How often did you have contact with him & the children before June 25th? How often did you see MJ after he returned from Bahrain?
Taj Jackson: Well I think that answer depends on which family members you are talking about. I know that my uncle Michael had never stopped being close to us (me and my brothers). I also know that my uncle Michael was always extremely close to my Grandma.
Yes, I know some members of my family weren't as close to my uncle in the later years as before, but for us that never was the case. I talked to him and saw him very often.
MJJC: There have been some questionable ventures that included Michael’s children such as children being listed in the contracts as a condition, promoting products/charities that are involved in a legal fight with Estate, giving interviews to journalists (ie: Frauke Ludowig) that made disparaging remarks about MJ before. What do you think of your family putting Michael's three vulnerable children out into the spotlight every time something MJ's related happens? MJ went to extreme lengths to protect his children from the media, so why just a year after his death have his children begun to appear on TV in interviews all around the world, have pap photos of themselves appear constantly in the media, and have public Twitter accounts which are picked up by gossip websites like TMZ. As his nephew do you think this is what MJ would have wanted for his young children? Do you ever think that maybe Michael wanted his children protected?
Taj Jackson: We are really trying to do our best with the situation in front of us, but we are only human. It's always easier to sit back and judge. But no one else is really in our shoes.
As for his kids, they are his legacy now. They are the ones that can and will carry on the MJ name and message. We don't force them to do that, they are proud to do it.
MJJC: Are the adults aware of the ongoing cyberbullying Paris & Prince have been subjected to on Twitter? (Unsavory characters have tweeted them the autopsy picture, made crude jokes, curse and ridicule the children). Why are the children allowed to be on Twitter when so many hate on them? Are they being monitored when they go online? Are there concrete and serious steps being taken to protect the children against cyber bullies?
Taj Jackson: We take cyberbullying VERY seriously and appropriate steps have always been taken when warranted. However, the last thing we want Prince, Paris, and Blanket to feel is that they are being imprisoned. No matter how much we want or try to protect them, there will always be people out there full of jealousy and hate.
MJJC: Do you feel, in your heart of hearts, that THIS GLE/JA-TAIL “MICHAEL FOREVER TRIBUTE”, was worthy of MJ? Do you really believe the lineup was the best for the greatest entertainer? Were the fans concerns about the tribute took seriously?
Taj Jackson: No tribute will ever truly be worthy of MJ. He is undoubtedly the greatest of all time. However, that doesn't mean that there should never be any MJ tributes. Personally, I think there should be MJ tributes all the time. My uncle should ALWAYS be celebrated.. not just for his musical contribution, but for the incredible person he was.
I did this tribute for my uncle. And knowing my uncle… he would have much rather have seen his mother and kids there…and his own brothers, sister, and nephews 3T up on stage performing a tribute to him, then ANY other big named artist(s).
MJJC: We now learn GLE has filed for bankruptcy on October 8th, THE NIGHT OF THE TRIBUTE. What steps will you & your family take, to make sure GLE/JA-TAIL respects their commitments to the workers? Did the charities receive their promised donation?
Taj Jackson: I am not GLE, and don't have all the details on what exactly transpired, therefore I can not comment on this yet. Sorry. I really hope there is more info in the near future.
MJJC: Since you were a consultant to the estate, you must not believe the will is fake. But do you know why some in your family would think the will is fake, but never went to court to legally challenge it? Have you ever discuss the issue with your family? What is their thinking, and how did they come up with the belief that the 2002 will wasn't signed by MJ? Has the Jackson family cooperatively decided to start working with the MJ Estate or are some still holding out and consider them an enemy?
Taj Jackson: I still am involved in the Estate. And regarding these questions, I can only speak on my behalf. Or things that I was personally part of.
I think us (the family) vs them (the Estate) mentality is very dangerous and non-productive. When you compete or consider someone the enemy, then there has to be a clear winner and a loser. Why would I want my uncle's Estate to fail? Communication is the key though and for the longest time, there was definitely a lack of it on both sides. It also doesn't help the situation when you hear someone say go "Team this" or "Team that". For me, it's all about my uncle legacy and not a game. The only team should be Team MJ.
Also, the Jackson Family is a huge family and although we are a family unit, it is still made up of many individuals. Please remember, one person does not speak for the whole family or represent the whole family.
MJJC: Paris and Prince openly support other Artists music and Albums and even Jackson family endeavours on Twitter but no mention at all of their Dads new releases. They have even been tweeted questions from their followers but refuse to reply. Seeing how they are vocal of how proud they are of their dad's accomplishment, it raises a lot of questions. Have MJ's children been forbidden to support Estate ventures for their dad?
Taj Jackson: MJ's kids have never ever been forbidden to support Estate ventures. They have been to and supported many ventures that the Estate was directly behind. They are VERY proud of their dad's accomplishments.
MJJC: Do the oldest two know and understand the estate is theirs? Their dad's legacy? His gift to them?
Taj Jackson: I'm sure someone has told them all of this, but I would never have that conversation with them. I'm focused on their health and happiness. It is my job to make sure that they become something my uncle would be proud of.
My brothers and I have gladly put our music career on hold for over 2 years in order to make sure my Grandma and our 3 cousins were doing okay. That is our number one priority. And it's the least we can do considering everything our uncle did for us.
MJJC: Every new venture bring forth to capitalize on MJ's fame, arts, notoriety, not sanctioned by the MJ estate, is by definition, undermining MJ's wishes and taking money from his rightful heirs. Why are the children used in projects which are against the MJ estate's interest and so in effect against the children's long-term interest? Two examples - GLE tribute which appeared to ignore the Estate completely in their planning for the concert and tried to embarrass the executors and MJ himself by offering $100K to MJ's children who have been provided with untold wealth from their father, also public involvement of the children in the Heal the world foundation which is in a costly and lengthy lawsuit with MJ estate. Do you think it is fair or ethical to use these young children in that way? Do you understand how it is viewed from the outside that the children are being asked to endorse products that go directly against MJ's wishes in establishing an estate for them?
Taj Jackson: This is another family vs estate debate…. so I think I'll pass on this one
MJJC: Do you understand the concern fans have over the people (such as Dieter Weisner, Marc Schaffel, Melissa Johnson, Howard Mann aka Henry Vaccaro aka Vintage Pop) that had fall outs with MJ being in business with both your grandparents now? Anything you want to tell us about this?
Taj Jackson: That's a very interesting concern… but going by those rules, there would definitely have been no "This is It" movie or soundtrack, or "Michael" album, or "MJ" Julien auction either.
MJJC: Are people, outside or inside of the family, taking advantage of your grandmother? Many fans believe Katherine Jackson is used as a front because fans love her & respect MJ's deep affection for her. But many fans have woken up to the game being played, and the GLE revolt has shown that. Is it now clear to the family, that most fans will not blindly support a questionable venture, just because Katherine Jackson or MJ's kids are used as the selling point?
Taj Jackson: Is this a question or a statement? Not sure. But I will still try and answer it.
People will believe what they want to believe. People will support what they want to support. People will think what they want to think. I always try and do my best to keep an open mind and see both sides of the story.
MJJC: Do you think Michael would be happy with the various book releases, merchandising deals and tributes that the Jackson family has endorsed in the last twelve months? What's your response to those who claim that the family have been cashing in on Michael's passing?
Taj Jackson: This question reminds me of when my brothers and I first started promoting 3T back in the day. All the French promo posters and billboards said "Nephews of Michael Jackson". The next time I saw my uncle I started to apologize to him about this. I started to tell him that we didn't tell Sony France to put that on all the advertising. He stopped me before I could finish and I'll never forget his response, . He said, "Applehead don't ever apologize, you are my nephews, flesh and blood and I love you. You are a Jackson. Be proud and wear that name like a badge of honour. I'm counting on you guys to carry on this legacy when I'm done."
So…. my uncle Michael considered his legacy to be a piece of the Jackson legacy. For him, it had always been about the Jackson name living on. And I don't believe family can "cash in" on their own name.
MJJC: Even before your uncle was officially declared dead on 25th June, your family through its spokesman, Oxman, and various family members since, has made the serious allegation to the media that Michael Jackson's problem with overmedication was so bad that you as a family were attempting interventions. Can you clear up this confusion with fans as it severely impacts on MJ's reputation, especially as a father?
Taj Jackson: If someone goes out and speaks on your behalf without your agreement or knowledge, does that make him your spokesman? Brian Oxman is not the family spokesman and he definitely does not speak for the entire family or me.
MJJC: About Cascio Tracks: How can you be so sure that the voice in the tracks is not real? Do you have any evidence to support that besides your own ears? Did you guys seek out experts to analyze the tape and having forensic evidence? If you believe the tracks were fake, why did you not take legal action? Did you talk to Eddie Cascio or any member of the Cascio family about the tracks before or after the album fiasco? Do you tried to reach out each other and hear both sides of opinion and tried to sort thing out? Why did you feel you had to involve the public by bringing the fight on twitter? Do you take some responsibility for the major division this has created within the fan community? Do you reckon, some will forever question the veracity of every new project?
Taj Jackson: That's a very sore subject, the Cascio Tracks. But just know, A LOT went on behind the scenes before things went public and plenty of time before the "Michael" tracklist was even finalized. I really shouldn't say any more otherwise I might say things I'll later regret.
MJJC: You have tweeted that Michael's fans don't understand and that we only know part of the story. We can understand how that must be frustrating, equally from Michael's fan base perspective it is also frustrating when we reach out to the family and don't get any feedback. The fans look to the family for support and answers to various questions, but it appears there is not if much if any response from the family. What can the family and the fans do to correct the breakdown in communication'? Would the family be willing to establish an official line of communication and if so, what method of communication would the family be comfortable with? It would be great to see a dialogue between the fans and family.
Taj Jackson: That's a tough situation. I'm not sure anyone in our family wants to be the messenger or liaison anymore. People always want to blame or kill the messenger when something goes wrong…lol
Every problem, concern or incident would lie squarely on that person's shoulders. No thanks. As much as I would love to help with that now. I've been there… done that. That's not for me… I would rather put that energy into my uncle's mother and kids.
MJJC: Did MJ ever record his own solo version of Why? If he did, what can you tell us about Michael’s original demo for WHY? Do you think it could see a release?
Taj Jackson: No, unfortunately, it doesn't exist. There were only my uncle's backgrounds on the demo. There is a Babyface version of Why with MJ backgrounds though.
MJJC: We all know MJ was an amazing person, what do you love most about him?
Taj Jackson: His heart. Period. "Amazing person" is totally an understatement. His care for children and the world was not a gimmick, it was who he really was. If I could be a tenth of the man my uncle was, I would be happy with my life.
MJJC: What's your favourite memory of MJ?
Taj Jackson: One favourite memory is the time my brothers and I spent with him in Nagasaki, Japan. There is a Dutch Village Theme Park called Huis Ten Bosch. We had such an incredible time there and laughed so much during that trip. I am blessed and lucky to have so many great and happy memories with him. Enough memories to last a lifetime.
MJJC: How was it like to work with MJ? Was MJ still being like an uncle when working or he was just pure professional?
Taj Jackson: He was absolutely a creative genius. Every time I worked on something with him, it never ever felt like work.
For example, the music video shoot for "Why". My first worry was that my uncle was playing around just a little too much…. cause he kept trying to make us laugh every time the camera was rolling. But afterwards, I understood exactly what he was doing.
I was way too serious for the video, thinking in my head…this is a music video with Michael Jackson…
But that was never the relationship we had with our uncle. Our relationship with him was filled with love, fun, respect and mutual admiration. And the video at the end of the day captured that perfectly.
MJJC: What is the single most important advice MJ had given you or your brothers, and you would like to share with his own kids?
Taj Jackson: We have shared almost everything my uncle has ever said or taught us with his own kids.
The single most important advice he has ever given me is to truly believe in my dreams. Also to be appreciative of and grateful for what I have and always give back to the world…to those less fortunate… and stand up for those without a voice.