The Michael Jackson duet with Akon was released Monday morning as the first official single from the upcoming album Michael, a collection of previously unpublished songs from the late pop star.

“Hold My Hand” premiered on Jackson’s official website.

A note handwritten by Jackson was found after his death indicating his request that “Hold My Hand” be the first single on his next project, Epic Records said.

“Hold My hand” had originally been recorded in 2007, which later leaked as an unfinished version the following year.

Akon arrived to complete the song after Jackson’s death in June 2009.

Akon said in a statement:

“The world was not ready to hear ‘Hold My Hand’ when it leaked a couple years ago.”

“We were devastated about it. But its time has definitely come. I’m so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael, one of my all time idols.”

The rap star describes the final version of “Hold My Hand” as “an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song.”

Taj Jackson, the singer’s nephew, posted an online message Sunday saying it was the last song his uncle ever played for him in person.

“He was so proud of it,” Taj Jackson said.

“I’ll never forget that smile he had on his face as the song played through the speakers [in his room] at the Palms Hotel in Vegas.”

Michael, Jackson’s first album of new music in nine years, will also include duets with artists 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz.  The 10-track album will mostly include “songs that Michael worked on recently. There are also earlier compelling tracks,” Epic said.

Jackie Jackson, one of the singer’s older brothers, worked with Epic to help prepare the album, a spokesman for the estate said. Sony’s Music has a contract with Jackson’s estate for 10 albums of unreleased material over the next seven years.

It’d be nice to think that some of that unreleased material that’s going to be marketed with a heavy dose of gusto for the next seven years might be from the Jackson 5 years.

There’s already a lot of good/bad chatter surrounding the new single and entire album; allegations that the “new” songs might be fake isn’t helping.

Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am. has already stepped out publicly with a criticism.

“Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

“To say that what [Michael] contributed during his life wasn’t enough. He just wasn’t any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me it’s disrespectful. There’s no honoring.”

There’s also a new video game and a Cirque Du Soleil tour dedicated to Jackson to keep the Brand going strong, but no doubt Sony is betting big that Michael, and subsequent, posthumous releases, will truly be the big (money) winner in the King of Pop business.

Michael will be released on December 14.

Michael track listing:

  • 1. Hold My Hand (Duet with Akon)
  • 2. Hollywood Tonight
  • 3. Keep Your Head Up
  • 4. (I Like) The Way You Love Me
  • 5. Monster (Featuring 50 Cent)
  • 6. Best Of Joy
  • 7. Breaking News
  • 8. (I Can’t Make It) Another Day (Featuring Lenny Kravitz)
  • 9. Behind The Mask
  • 10. Much Too Soon

What you think of “Hold My Hand?”