So much for that “Ebony and Ivory” stuff. At least as far as Stevie Wonder and Eminem go.
Speaking to Billboard magazine, Wonder comes to the defense of old Motown roster mate Michael Jackson, saying he was “disappointed” Em mocked Jackson’s child-molestation allegations in the rapper’s video for “Just Lose It.”
“Kicking someone when he’s down is not a good thing,” Wonder tells Billboard. “I have much respect for his work…[b]ut I was disappointed that he would let himself go to such a level.
“He has succeeded on the backs of people predominantly in that lower pay bracket, people of color. So for him to come out like that is bull–.”
Jackson has publicly complained about the “Just Lose It” clip, in which Eminem frolics with kids on a bed. BET banned the video upon its release out of deference for Jackson, but the video-which also pokes fun at Madonna, MC Hammer, Pee-wee Herman and his 8 Mile self, among others-remains in rotation on MTV.
Wonder’s outcry came just as he announced his first album in nearly a decade. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tells Billboard that his new studio set, A Time 2 Love, will hit racks in April.
“For me,” Wonder tells the trade paper, “I had to make a real decision not to rush [this record].”
He’s not kidding-his last collection of new tunes came out nine years ago, with 1995’s commercially disappointing Convesation Peace.
“I didn’t mean for that to happen,” he says of the long layoff between releases. “On the other hand, it wasn’t a panic-mode situation, either, where we’ve got to do this or we’re going to have a problem up in here,” said Wonder. A lot of what I do when I do an album is based on whether the timing is right.”
Among the tracks on A Time 2 Love : a collaboration with old-school hip-hop star Doug E. Fresh, a song featuring the West Los Angeles choir and a tune called “If Your Love Cannot Be Moved,” with instrumentation by Wonder and several special guests.
Meantime, Wonder is set to receive Billboard ‘s Century Award-the mag’s highest honor for creative achievement-during Wednesday’s presentation of the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. Another old Motown cohort, Diana Ross, will be joined by Mary J. Blige to present the hardware.
Blige and other R&B stars like Brian McKnight paid tribute to Wonder on the 2003 release Conception: An Interpretation of Stevie Wonder Songs.
After Time is released next year, the 19-time Grammy winner singer says he has “three immediate goals”: a “jazz album with harmonica,” a gospel album and a musical.