Michael Jackson blasted the music industry — and Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola in particular — calling him "racist and very, very, very devilish."
Jackson made the remarks Saturday at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. Jackson is currently at odds with Sony over the disappointing performance of his latest album, Invincible, as well as the label's alleged refusal to release his charity single, "What More Can I Give."
During his appearance, Jackson told the crowd that the music industry cheated and stole from artists, especially black artists. He said of Mottola, "He's mean. He's a racist, and he's very, very, very devilish."
Jackson also claimed that Mottola had used a racial slur when referring to an African-American artist he would not identify.
Sharpton Surprised by Comments, Defends Mottola
Sony released a statement in response to Jackson's remarks that said they were, "ludicrous, spiteful, and hurtful. It seems particularly bizarre that he has chosen to launch an unwarranted and ugly attack on an executive who has championed his career, and the careers of so many other superstars, for many years. We are appalled that Mr. Jackson would stoop so low in his constant quest for publicity."
After the event, the Rev. Sharpton was reportedly "taken aback and surprised" at the viciousness of Jackson's attack on Mottola. He was quoted in today's New York Post as saying, "I have known Tommy for 15 or 20 years, and never once have I known him to say or do anything that would be considered racist."
Sharpton went on to say that the Sony honcho has, "always been supportive of the black music industry. He was the first record executive to step up and offer to help us with respect to corporate accountability, when it comes to black music issues."
Other black music industry types also came to Mottola's defense, including Steve Stout — best known as the man that Sean "P. Diddy" Combs beat up in conjunction with the Nas video depicting him being crucified.
Courey Rooney, an African-American producer who's worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child and Marc Anthony, speculated that Jackson is merely upset with the sales performance of his last album.
"Michael Jackson playing the race card is a cop-out — a last resort move by a guy who is frustrated that his big project didn't work," Rooney said.
Jackson's day in New York also included an appearance at an anti-Sony rally outside the label's mid-town offices.
Jackson rode to the protest on the top of a red double-decker tour bus and joined the crowd of 150 fans in chanting "Down with Tommy Mottola."
Later in the evening, Jackson headed downtown to the club Webster Hall, where he accepted an award from his American fan club.
ABCNEWS Radio contributed to this report.