It has to be hard growing up Jackson.
Take away the probing eyes of the adoring & obsessive public. Don’t mention all of the crazed fans that faint at the mere mention of anybody in your uber talented family clan. Leave that all at the door.
Just consider what it must have been like growing up Jackson- where your uncle is Michael, your aunt is Janet and your pops is Tito, the Jackson that most people consider the most charming and down to earth.
Then you might have an inkling of what kind of pressure Tito Joe “T.J.” Jackson has felt on his shoulder, simply growing up in this famous family. It has not been easy for singer, TJ. This is not about breaking out violins or boohooing a kid that had Neverland as a personal amusement park. Nope.
This is about how TJ Jackson became a man…. how he distinguished himself from his siblings and have made a way for himself, amidst a life of extreme highs and extreme lows.
Check his life (Energetically it has been full of highs and lows).
He was born as the youngest son of Tito Jackson in 1978. To paint the picture, “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” and “Destiny” were singles on the radio and a month after he was born, “Blame It on the Boogie” came out. He was born into music and we saw it all. As Jacksonfiles, we mourned with him and his family when his beloved mother, Delores “Dee Dee’ Martes, was murdered in 1994. After that, his group 3T (with his two brothers) dropped their multi-platinum album Brotherhood in 1995, that yielded hits like “Anything” and ““Why” featuring their uncle Michael Jackson. By 1996, he and his brothers were ranked second behind the Spice Girls as the biggest-selling group in Europe. This spring boarded his career as a songwriter and producer, working on projects like the classic, The Jacksons: An American Dream, Men in Black and Free Willy (1)and (2). All this is happening as his aunt’s star is blazing just as bright as his uncle (who happened to be the greatest entertainer in the history of the earth). This is also happening during the time that his famous uncle was the center of scandal. And with all of this… the question is probably how did TJ grow up so normal, so responsible, so levelheaded and grounded.
How Sway, How?
In an exclusive interview with The Source, TJ offered this reasoning, “Humility is important. Ego is a very dangerous thing.” He credits any grounded-ness that he has to being raised by a father that mandated normalcy in his children’s lives (as much as he could possibly afford them considering how celebrated the family has been for almost 60 years). Tito, Sr. took special care to step in and try to fill the gaping hole left in his children’s hearts after their mom died.
So the question arises, why now? Why did it take so long for you to release your own project, even at 41 years old? And what is swiftly brought to remembrance is the extreme sacrifice he made for his family ten years ago- when the unthinkable happened. Michael Jackson, his mentor, friend and uncle, died. It was then that he, in his early 30s, stepped in and did what no one else could have done. He became the co-legal guardian for Michael’s three children Prince, Paris and Blanket with his grandmother Katherine Jackson. Why? By this time he had already been married with two kids. He had a multi-faceted career that included music, film and production. Why would he put all of that aside to take care of his cousins- when he had so many aunts and uncles with more stabled lives and who had already had their taste of show business? Why was sacrifice so important to him?
TJ answered, “Sacrifice is important. You have to look at the long term and the impact that your sacrifice will make. The question I ask myself is what Impact did I leave behind.” For TJ, his legacy has to be more than just entertainment or being the caricature of what a Jackson kid is. It has to be about hard work and substance. About being a decent person. About family. It is always for him about family.
This was also made apparent most recently when he took a break from promoting his new project to comment on a post about his uncle. He responded to 50 Cent after the rap star made a crude joke about his uncle to his cousin, Paris on Instagram.
TJ told Allhiphop.com, “I loved ‘In da Club’ and some other 50 Cent songs, but I lost a lot of respect for him. A lot of respect, for many reasons. I just don’t think it was cool to attack my uncle without doing any research on the truth,” offered TJ. “Then for him to attack my younger cousin who has to deal with all this, is even more immature and more disgusting. Hopefully, he’ll mature and see more of a respectful side, but it is what it is.”
So when does it become about you, TJ?
The stage lights have always been on. The dream of entertaining (not stardom) has always crept into his slumber at night and his fantasies by day. Even that had to be hard?
TJ admits is has been. His answer almost sounds like a generational echo (or curse) that has hovered over the Jackson family for years. He says that he never “felt like a kid.”
“We had been preparing for this since my childhood. Not because we were forced, but because we were inspired. We wanted to be like them in so many ways. We even dressed like them.”
But unlike the elder Jacksons, TJ and his generation for the most part have kept themselves moving in spaces where they could experience appropriate life milestones. Like think about this… before Nick Cannon, Ray J or Kanye, TJ dated a young Kim Kardashian. Shocking huh? Well it is because he is such a gentleman; he would rarely talk about it. Few of the known male Jacksons have been known to be with bonafide sex symbols. TJ can proudly boast that is he wants.
This leads us to his new song, “Delirious.”
It is here… in this very song… that you forget that he is a Jackson Jr. and recognize that he is a man… and now you can make sense out of the KK business.
The lyrics go “Baby you know that this feels so good. We can go ’til the sunrise. As long as I am on top of you, soul to soul. My love your blowing my mind.” Wait… what did he say?
He laughs when asked about the song. “Sexuality is healthy. It shocks people because for some people, I am frozen in time. I am Tito’s son.” This is a good shock though. It reminds the world of when Janet popped out with Control over 30 years ago… breaking away from the rigid mold set by the very popcorn image that Joe Jackson had set as the standard for the family.
“I wanted to be raw with his project. I grew up with a filter and a guard to protect the legacy.” TJ explains, “I just wanted to authentic to who I am today, but still be respectful and romantic.”
It has been a long time coming. TJ is a man (and not because he is singing about sex- a lot of guys singing about guys are not “men”). He is a man because he understands his responsibility to his family, he clearly knows how to woo a woman and moreover he is prepared to define his legacy through his own efforts.
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