News: Jay-Z Turned Down "We Are the World" Remake, "I Know Everybody Is Gonna Take This Wrong"

Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 8:05PM

Written by Rosario Harper

Grammy-winning rapper Jay-Z has revealed the reasons he did not participate in the celebrity-driven Haiti tribute song, "We Are the World."

According to the rap mogul, his participation would have tarnished a renowned classic.

"I have a interesting take on that," Jay-Z in an interview. "I know everybody is gonna take this wrong: 'We Are the World,' I love it, and I understand the point and think it's great. But I think 'We Are the World' is like [Michael Jackson's] 'Thriller' to me. I don't ever wanna see it touched. I'm a fan of music. I know the plight and everything that's going on in Haiti. I applaud the efforts: [Millions have been raised] through text [donations] to Haiti. So I appreciate the efforts and everything, but 'We are the World' is [musically] untouchable like 'Thriller' is untouchable. Some things are just untouchable. It was a valiant effort, but for me, it's gonna be untouchable." (MTV)

The video debuted shortly before 12 AM (EST) Friday night prior to the Olympics.

The revamped "We Are the World" made its world premiere Friday during NBC's coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, and a simultaneous worldwide screening of the full, seven-minute version of the music video is planned for Saturday. The worldwide simulcast on 53 domestic and international channels is planned for 2 p.m. Eastern time. Michael Jackson, who co-wrote the original hit with Lionel Richie, is shown in a clip from the original music video. In the new version, Jackson, wearing his trademark 1980s pseudomilitary regalia, sings alongside his sister, Janet Jackson. (Associated Press)

Rap contributions from Lil Wayne and Kanye West also made the video.

Lil Wayne Auto-Tune wheezed his way through Bob Dylan's lines from the original, something I've been waiting to hear since I read that it was coming; Weezy didn't disappoint, delivering the remake's most memorable moment by far, though admittedly in a WTF sort of way. As for the random huddle of rappers that followed -- will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and more all chanting some bland lyrics together -- the less said of that, the better. Finally, as the song drew to a close, Kanye West andwill.i.am exchanged some well-meant if underwhelming rhymes ("Feeling like the world's end, we can make the world win"). (Entertainment Weekly)

According to producer RedOne, the project went into production shortly after the recent Grammy Awards.

"Yeah. We recorded after the Grammys [where RedOne took home two trophies for his work with Lady Gaga], so that helped. All the stars were in town. It was an experience of a lifetime. The funny thing is, a few months ago, me and Lionel were at the same studio and he was telling me all these stories about the original "We Are the World." About how magical it was ... all these huge names in the same room. He was like, "Those things don't happen every day." I was listening like a little kid. The next thing you know, I'm experiencing it. ... it was like the next generation. To be chosen as the producer from this generation to do it, it was incredible." (Los Angeles Times)

Check out the "We Are the World" music video down below:

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