Rap’s foremost MC pays tribute to the King of Pop in British music magazine NME’s new issue, which is dedicated to lost musical icons. Jay-Z begins his written remembrance of Michael Jackson by trying to find some good in the legendary singer’s unexpected death.

“I think it gave Michael a chance to be celebrated for the genius he was without all the other stuff in the way,” Jay-Z writes, “and I don’t know if that would ever have happened had he been alive.”

Shawn Carter also mentions the little-known fact that Jackson sang on the remix of “Girls, Girls, Girls” back in 2001, which went mostly unnoticed because MJ wasn’t credited on the single. But take a listen to the song below—once you know what to expect, you can totally tell it’s Michael’s silky voice on the hook.

“I remember him calling me and him just talking about, you know, ‘syncopation’ and musician stuff like that,” Jay-Z says at the end of his piece. “The Michael Jackson I knew was just a musician who loved music.”

Did you know this was the real Michael, and not a sample? What other collaborations do you wish the King of Pop had lived to do?

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