2. Word To The Badd!!
In November 1991, a new single, “Word to the Badd!”, by Jermaine Jackson was leaked to Los Angeles radio station KPWR. The DJ began to play the single continuously in alternation with MJ’s new single “Black or White”. The lyrics were a no-holds-barred attack on Michael. They read, in part:
Don’t know who you are…
Think they love you
They don’t know you
You never think about who you are
You only think abouth Number One
You forget about where you started from
You only think about you, your throne
Be it right or be it wrong
Once you were made
You changed your shade
Was your color wrong?
Could not turn back
It’s a known fact
You were too far gone
You know I try to be there for you
Like a brother I care for you
It didn’t matter you always play me of
The broadside caused shock and controversy in the media and the public. Jermaine explained on the UK network TV program “Rapido”: “I tried to put some phone calls to him and I didn’t get a reply…it’s a number of things but it’s nothing we couldn’t work out, had we spoken, but I wasn’t granted an opportunity from his people to speak to him…the overall message is an older brother telling his younger brother to get back to reality…you have done it to the ultimate level, but you’re still a person.”
According to Margaret Maldonado, his former common-law wife, Jermaine wrote the song when he became enraged that his producers, L.A. Reid and Babyface, postponed work on his next album in order to work with Michael on Dangerous. Jermaine was unable to reach MJ by phone to confront him over the postponement, so he conceived a plan to put Michael in his place and at the same time draw attention to his own album.
The morning after the song began to air, MJ appeared at Hayvenhurst to demand an explanation. Contrary to some reports, he did not attempt to attack his brother physically over the insult but instead went into a room with him to discuss the matter, with mother Katherine mediating. Maldonado reports that after the meeting Katherine told her that Jermaine had refused to apologize, though Michael was deeply hurt. MJ begged his brother to withdraw the single, since his own fans would not care, but Jermaine’s career would be ruined. Unwisely, Jermaine did not, and although the version of “Word to the Badd!” that appeared on his album did not contain the acid lyrics, the single and album were commercial failures due to public contempt over the cynical attack on Michael. Jermaine was dropped from his Arista contract soon after and remains unsigned to any label.