Michael Jackson: Why did MJ buy the rights to Eminem’s songs?

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley interviewed in 1995

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Michael Jackson was no stranger to purchasing the rights to music throughout his career. He famously bought up the copyright to The Beatles’ entire back catalogue in 1985. In 2007 he went through another bout of song purchases using his company Sony/ATV.

Why did Michael Jackson buy the rights to Eminem’s songs?

Michael purchased the company that owned Eminem’s songs, Famous Music, three years after he was targeted by the rapper in his 2004 song Just Lose It.

During the song, Eminem included a lyric that said: “Come here, little kiddie, on my lap / Guess who’s back with a brand new rap? / And I don’t mean rap as in a new case of child molestation.”

To make this reference even blunter, Eminem dressed up as Michael in the music video for the song, where he donned fake plastic surgery and had his hair set on fire (another reference to a real-life situation Michael found himself in the 1980s).


At the time, Michael hit out at the Detroit-based rapper for his depiction of the singer and even called for the song to be pulled off the music video TV channels.

He said in an interview: “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.”

He said in another interview: “I’ve never met Mr Eminem, and to have – I’ve always admired him – and to have him do something like that has been pretty painful.”

Michael’s estate at the time threatened “to sue” Eminem over the music video.

In 2007, three years after the song was released, Michael’s company Sony/ATV bought the publishing company Famous Music for $370 million.

This purchase meant he then owned the rights to all of Eminem’s music.

Michael continued to own the rapper’s music until he died in 2009.

Michael Jackson hides behind curtain at 1994 Elvis tribute event

Although Michael died in 2009, the music was not returned to Eminem for years after that.

The music was returned to the performer seven years later in 2016.

During the fervour surrounding Michael’s outrage, Eminem said in an interview: “I apologise for that.”

After this, Michael said: “From an artist to another artist … [Eminem] should be ashamed of himself. It was wrong of him to do it.”

Michael added: “I’ve been an artist most of my life and I’ve never attacked a fellow artist.

“Great artists don’t do that they don’t have to do that.”


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