For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Slow Jam Saturday: Michael Jackson, Who Do You Know
Often it’s hard to believe it’s been thirteen years since GOD called the King of Pop home. Since his passing, fans have enjoyed some of his unreleased music. A few weeks before the official anniversary, the MJ estate blessed fans with Thriller 40.
This edition of the album is the third reissue of the original record, and Mike Jack’s is the first posthumous album in five years since the release of 2017’s Scream. For this week’s edition of Slow Jam Saturday, the popular choice would’ve been to celebrate the closing song on Thriller, “The Lady In My Life,” but I decided to highlight one of the unreleased bops, “Who Do You Know.”
The “Thriller 40” campaign was already in full swing on November 10 when news broke that the previously unreleased and unheard demo was a track on Disc 2. Jackson wrote and produced the ballad sometime between 1980 and February 1982. When the song didn’t make the final track list for Thriller, initially, it was reworked and considered for the Jacksons’ 1984 reunion album Victory. However, Jackson decided to contribute three other songs (“Be Not Always,” “State Of Shock,” and “The Hurt”) instead. Outside of some grainy video footage from a 1993 deposition, I had never heard Jackson refer to “Who Do You Know.”
That said, the first song I went to when Thriller 40 was digitally released was “Who Do You Know.” The song opens with a simple arrangement, and Jackson comes crooning with an undeniable yearning.
“I’ve lost my baby
Two years ago
Have you seen her?
She seems to be on a mission
Long ago when I smiled, did you notice her? Oh lord…
She was only playin’
Waiting for love, gonna get you this, oh lord…
Well, she seems to have left me
What in all of love
Can you tell me which way did she go? (Alright)”
“Tell me, who do you know?”
“Who Do You Know” is only a demo, but Michael sounds better than half of the artists who have emerged in the last decade after his passing and who currently have streaming on lock. While it’s unclear whom Jackson is singing about in the song, he croons the lyrics so passionately that it doesn’t matter.
Final Grade: A
“Who Do You Know” from Thriller 40 is available on all streaming platforms
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.