In the bootleg version of Jermaine Jackson's song "Word to the Badd!!," now getting airplay around the country, Jermaine caustically criticizes younger brother Michael Jackson for changing his skin color ("Once you were made/ you changed your shade"), for getting plastic surgery, for not returning his phone calls and for being self-centered ("you only think about you").

Toward the end of the song, Jermaine adds: "Gone too far, ya better turn back/ I know who you are/ you know where I'm at." That last part is certainly true, because Jermaine -- along with his wife and two children -- is living at an Encino, Calif., estate that is 75 percent owned by Michael. A source familiar with the household estimates that, aside from the mortgage, expenses on the house for security, utilities and services (including maid, gardener and pool cleaner) cost Michael roughly $25,000 a month.

"That's incorrect," Jermaine says of the suggestion he's been getting a free ride. "I've been back here for about a week, and for the last year I was living with my family in Georgia," recording his newly released album, "You Said," which contains a substantially milder version of "Word to the Badd!!"

Jermaine says he returned to Encino -- a plush community in the San Fernando Valley -- to work on an upcoming four-hour television miniseries about the origins of the Jackson 5. As for the house on Havenhurst Avenue, Jermaine insists: "Those grounds and that property were purchased by the blood, sweat and tears of the Jackson 5. All Michael did was to remodel it."

The house, purchased in the early '70s, was originally in parents Joe and Katherine Jackson's names, but Michael eventually gained ownership -- except for a quarter that was deeded from Katherine to LaToya Jackson, according to property records. Tax bills are sent to Michael, records show.

"Michael has no comment on this matter," says Bertram Fields, Michael's lawyer. "Nor do I, other than to say that I'm sure Michael doesn't begrudge Jermaine and his family living in Michael's house, even now. Michael isn't like that."

The latest flap smacks of a well-orchestrated hype campaign -- both sides gain by keeping the controversy going. According to Jermaine's spokesman Dan Klores, marketing representatives of LaFace and Arista Records asked the singer two months ago to change the "Word to the Badd!!" lyrics so he would not be lumped with sister LaToya in the Jackson-bashing sweepstakes. At that time, LaToya had just charged in her autobiography, "Growing Up With the Jacksons," that her father had physically abused his children, including Michael. Accordingly, the album version of "Badd!!" was toned down so that "changed your shade" became "changed your ways."

Jermaine says he withdrew his original lyrics from the album because "I wasn't ready emotionally for the public to hear that. And I didn't mean for Michael to be hurt, but he was. ... It's not up to the public to be a referee over my brothers and what we go through. I didn't write this for the public to say whether they like me or dislike me."

A bootleg cassette of "Badd!!" was leaked Nov. 2 to programmers at several Los Angeles and New York radio stations, many of which started playing it back-to-back with an unauthorized version of Michael's long-awaited new single, "Black or White," before the latter's official Nov. 4 release. ("Dangerous," the album from which it comes, will be released Nov. 26. The 11-minute "Black or White" video premieres tomorrow at 8:25 p.m. on BET, MTV and Fox.)

Jermaine denies trying to ride Michael's coattails to record-store checkout counters, but concedes that the publicity wouldn't hurt. "I am excited -- Michael's the number one seller in the world, and if he brings {people} into the stores, hey, I have a record out too, and they rack it in the same rack."

If Jermaine cashes in on the controversy, that might be good news to his former wife, Hazel Gordy. She recently filed a complaint against him for nonsupport of their three children. Spokesman Klores conceded yesterday that Jermaine is "in arrears for a few months." Lawyers are negotiating, and the action "will be settled in 24 to 48 hours," Klores said. Jackson has two other children with his current wife, Margaret.

In Randy Taraborrelli's recent unauthorized biography of Michael, Jermaine is portrayed as jealous of other family members' success. During the 1985 "Victory" tour, Jermaine told reporter Simon Kinnersley that "even though Michael is very talented, a lot of his success has been due to timing and a little bit of luck. It could have been him, or it could just as easily have been me. But now I'm doing a lot of things. I'm the hottest brother."

And LaToya's book says Jermaine predicted that "Thriller" would not be successful because Michael "wanted to be white."

"That's so inaccurate, as is anything that LaToya says," says Jermaine. He also denies he was criticizing his brother's much-publicized plastic surgeries or his well-reported ambition to be the biggest star in the world.

"There is nothing wrong with trying to better yourself, and I never said he wants to be other than black -- Michael knows he's black," says Jermaine, characterizing "Word to the Badd!!" as a "private message."

"It's not about one or two individual lines, and it's not about facial changes," he insists, "but to bring an awareness to Michael, to mend a relationship, to bring him back to reality."

A spokesman for Michael's record company called the release of Jermaine's song a "malicious publicity stunt." Jermaine says he isn't envious of his younger brother's success: "It's not about being jealous or this being a publicity stunt. I love my brother very, very much, and I'll be the first to say he's the number one entertainer in the world, and I hope he continues to be that and to sell millions and millions of records. ... He's an exceptional talent, he's my star -- but still he's my little brother."

"You Said," the title single from Jermaine's album, was released to radio a few weeks ago but received little reaction. According to Radio & Records, 67 of 87 stations reporting for the R&B chart were playing what was then the No. 31 single. Of those, none had it in heavy rotation. The hype apparently has done little to enhance the single's performance, although it moved to No. 28.

How the "Word to the Badd!!" bootleg was provided to stations remains unknown. A spokesman at LaFace Records, the Atlanta-based independent label for which Jermaine records, denied involvement in leaking the bootleg, as did a spokesman at Arista Records, which distributes LaFace Records.

A radio-industry insider says promotional copies delivered to radio stations included a reprint of the New York Post article that broke the story and the suggestion that for maximum impact, it would be best to piggyback the Jackson singles.

An Arista spokesman said the bootleg version is being considered for commercial release -- possibly as a bonus incentive for purchasing the album.

As a result of the airplay and media attention, Jermaine told the Los Angeles Times, Michael called, and on Monday they met for the first time in eight months. "The first thing Michael asked me was 'Why?' " Jermaine reported. "So I explained to him how I felt. After we talked for a while we agreed that no matter how busy each of us gets that we should never be too busy to take a call from one another. But that's between us." Staff writer Carla Hall in Los Angeles contributed to this report.