November 21, 2007 at 06:29 AM EST

Akon’s already had a hand in hits by Gwen Stefani and 50 Cent; now Michael Jackson has enlisted the collaborator du jour to sing, write, and produce on his next album. “It’s incredible,” Akon tells EW. “We’re trying something he’s never done before, and that’s the challenge. There’s not too much Michael Jackson hasn’t covered. Just be ready for it.” While there’s no timeline yet, Akon says Jackson, who was rumored to be in talks with Starbucks’ HEAR label, will self-release the album. “It’s Mike, and he can. He don’t really need a label to distribute.”

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