BUT IN “REBELLION” THERE’S A SPARKLE OF TRUTH.
This week marks the ninth anniversary of producer Christopher “Notes” Olsen’s untimely death. The rising hit-maker helped Britney create the controversial song, which eerily points out the control gripping her public and private life since launching to super stardom at 16-years-old. Notes also worked on “Outta This World,” featured on 2007’s Blackout, tour mixes used during Brit’s low-key House Of Blues Tour and is responsible for her cover of Elvis Presley’s “Trouble” – used in the intro to her head-tilting performance of “Gimme More” at the 2007 VMAs. Britney and Notes closely collaborated during a time in the pop star’s life when she asserted personal and artistic independence, and that is extremely special.
Following In The Zone, Britney flexed her creative guns when she recorded music that entertained themes of autonomy and self-reliance, but mistakes in her not-so-distant past at the time proved to be tools that those closest to her would use as leverage.
The songs Britney recorded pre-Blackout, known as the Original Doll era, were scrapped minus a couple of one-offs, like “Mona Lisa” and “Chaotic.” In many ways, “My Prerogative” is “Rebellion’s” older sister – “people can take away everything away from you, but they can never take away your truth…” Fortunately (depending on who you ask), a trunk of these shimmering gems left on the recording room floor to collect pop dust have spilled onto the Internet. Who obtained them or how they’ve leaked are mostly a mystery, but I can shed light on how “Rebellion” surfaced.
Without permission, Britney requested the song appear on her official website, BritneySpears.com, Notes’ sister Angelica tells BreatheHeavy. In June 2006, artists couldn’t hop onto social media to share their work at will. It required a couple of calculated steps for the pop star to achieve her rebellious mission. Britney side-stepped her imploding management team and surprise released it in ferocious fashion. When fans visited her site, an alarming animation of Britney’s face fading into a tiger appeared, with startling roars, and “Rebellion” would play on loop. It was made available a short while after Britney posted a self-written poem titled Remembrance Of Who I Am. In it, she talked about being manipulated and seemed disturbed by shadowy figures practicing “voodoo” (both themes on “Rebellion”). Some of the words appeared on another unreleased song – Britney’s cover of Ace Of Base’s “All That She Wants.”
“Rebellion” briefly existed on her site before it unexplainably vanished. Angelica claims, according to words form her brother, that Britney’s team “made them” pull it. Britney’s manager Larry Rudolph told Notes via email that “Rebellion” wasn’t the direction JIVE Records was looking to take Britney in.
According to Angelica, Notes said he “absolutely knew Britney [wanted] to be raw…. She wanted to be this kind of rebel… she [was] ready to grow.” She also mentioned Notes briefly lived with Britney and ex-husband Kevin Federline during the creation of K-Fed’s debut album, Playing With Fire.
Where is "Rebellion?"
Fans have searched high and low for the entire track, which Angelica believes exists, however despite having Notes’ hard drive of music with more than 17,000 files on it, she’s unable to produce something longer than the 50-second clip that has existed on the Internet since ’06. “Y’all have just as much as I do,” she said, noting that she has “everything my brother has ever [created].”
“We’ll find it,” she continued. “It’s gonna get surfaced.”
The 50-second clip could very well be all there is, however there’s reason to believe an extended version with additional verses exists. During a joyride in her convertible in 2007, Britney flipped through a demo CD containing several songs she recorded for Blackout, including “State Of Grace,” “Baby Boy” and what appears to be “Rebellion.” You can hear the intro to the track in the clip below:
Some wild sh!t went down post-Rebellion, and it created the perfect storm to brew some wild ideas, most of which, according to Notes’ sister, are just tragic confidences.
Notes’ manager was murdered. Several years later, the producer fell to his death at the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, CA. One of the song’s other co-creators, producer Scott Storch, became severely addicted to cocaine and lost $30 million in six months because of it. And the track’s fourth collaborator, Jeff Dandurand, was silenced by the powers that be and barred from releasing it.
“We have to remember the time period this was in Britney’s life,” Dandurand said in an interview posted in 2013. “Very tumultuous and the song is very dark in its presentation. Britney had been messing with some poetry leading up to the recording and came forth with those haunting lyrics.”
He claimed the song was “about the evil forces that pull the strings.”
Dandurand added that he tried acquiring rights to the track but was “shot down four times with various cease and desists.” He added: “additional lyrics exist but the most pure version has a different intro and does not repeat. It does not loop or go into any other arrangement, The Original Doll project bootleg and the aforementioned BMI promo is the purest of all versions leaked. It’s out there.”
These lyrics are rumored to be the missing pieces of the puzzle:
You might not believe it
But trust me this is true
You fall for their poison
And become a part of their crew
I’m in a rebellion
And I’m up against the truth
So will you join me?
Or will you be taken too?
The eye that is deceiving is the one trapping us in
I’m fighting a losing battle and my patience is wearing thin
But in rebellion there’s a glimmer of light
And nobody claims the crown without some sacrifice
Angelica could very well be in possession of the track, but suspects music-publishing executive Jonathan Stone may have it as well.
In another strange turn of events, Sam Lutfi, who was in close proximity to Britney in 2007 & part of 2008, posted a photo in April 2019 of a trunk of personal items he collected during his time with the singer more than a decade ago. In one of the photos, fans noted there was a blank CD with the word “Rebel” on it. Several weeks after the image surfaced, Britney’s legal team was granted a restraining order against him.
Why “rebellion” is relevant now more than ever.
More than a decade since Britney first created the song, she’s never appeared to be more restrained. Britney birthed “Rebellion” prior to a judge granting her father and a co-conservator control over her personal life and finances. That means who Britney encounters, how she spends her money, what doctors and lawyers she meets with, all of it are determined by people her court-approved conservators. It’s exactly the type of situation she feared the most, and was brave enough to not only sing about it, but shed a light on it.
“Be wary of others, the ones closest to you” is a haunting cautionary tale that came to fruition. Britney’s family is currently evaluating the restraints placed upon her. Some believe the singer has been overly medicated to further financial gain for those in power – “the poison they feed you and the voodoo that they do” were harrowing, poetic words that came to be, and Britney predicted it. On the surface, it looks like any time she tries taking back some control she’s punished and thus sinks further into an isolating, unforgiving world.
“Rebellion” was Britney’s songwriting talents displayed in full force, and despite creating an entire body of work in the years leading up to Blackout… her voice, her visions, her most intimate thoughts translated into song were replaced by a string of sex-laced bangers. Original Doll could have been Britney’s most personal record to date. It could have given her the opportunity to show the general public she’s more than a blonde bombshell with killer abs. It could have shown us that sh!t was about to hit the fan, but she was silenced and ignored.
One thing we’ve learned about Britney in regards to “Rebellion” is that she’s self-aware. If mishandled, fame and fortune can attract dire circumstances that are seemingly impossible to break free from. It’s not in Britney’s best interests to act defiant for the sake of it, however remaining complicit won’t help things either. If there’s anything she should take away from the song, it’s not: “you’ll find it in rebellion…” it’s “don’t just stand there, do what you have to do.”