The Petty Reason Michael Jackson Bought The Rights To Eminem’s Music For $515 Million
— Updated on 26 September 2022

The Petty Reason Michael Jackson Bought The Rights To Eminem’s Music For $515 Million

— Updated on 26 September 2022

By now, it’s a pretty well-established fact of the music industry that beefing with Eminem tends to not go well for whomever else is involved. Especially in the mid-2000s, Slim Shady was at the height of his powers and wanted the smoke with pretty much anyone and everyone around. Of course, there’s always a bigger shark in the sea… and in 2007, Michael Jackson proved he was that shark.

In 2004, Eminem released a music video for his song ‘Just Lose It’, the lead single from the album Encore. Within the song and its colourful music video, Eminem less-than-subtly mocked everything about Michael Jackson, from the artist’s changing face, legal problems from the year prior, and a traumatic accident that had put the singer in hospital.

In the song’s lyrics, Eminem raps:

What else could I possibly do to make noise?
I done touched on everything but little boys
And that’s not a stab at Michael
That’s just a metaphor, I’m just psycho

RELATED: The History Of Prince & Michael Jackson’s Legendary Rivalry

As he says all of this, Eminem is dressed up as Jackson before his nose falls off (a reference to the singer’s plastic surgery on his nose), his hair catches on fire, (a reference to Jackson’s real hair being set alight during the filming of a Pepsi advert in 1984) and children start jumping in his bed (the reference is pretty clear there).

The song and video were both successful at the time and Michael Jackson was (understandably) pretty offended by all of it. The Jackson estate threatened to sue Eminem for the public slight and even went to great lengths to get the video banned on popular music channels.

Speaking in an interview with a Los Angeles radio station, Jackson stated: “I’ve admired Eminem as an artist, and was shocked by this. The video was inappropriate and disrespectful to me, my children, my family and the community at large.”

When Eminem was asked about this music video and his thoughts on how he made Jackson upset shortly after, he replied with a simple: “I apologise for that.” We all know someone that has had a bad first impression with an employer, but this has to take the whole bloody cake.

Three years later, in 2007, Jackson’s company Sony/ATV purchased the publishing company Famous Music for US$370 million (~AU$515.8 million), meaning that Michael Jackson actually owned Eminem’s entire back catalogue. This, of course, included ‘Just Lose It’.

Despite owning the words that were written to insult him, Jackson never actually made any adjustments to the music itself. Maybe he had gotten over it in the three years… Or maybe he felt like he had already won. In any case, it’s one of music’s most surprising examples of fuck-you-money.

At the time, Jackson also owned the publishing rights to The Beatles’ music, as well, after buying them up in 1985. Even if the purchase had nothing to do with past disagreements, it speaks to MJ’s understated aptness as a businessman to make the right call regardless of the feelings involved.

Eminem would eventually have the publishing rights to his music returned in 2016, seven years after Jackson’s death.

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