After her 1993 self titled album and a 1995 greatest hits, compilation album, Janet Jackson returns in 1997 with another album. The transition from the “Poetic Justice”, sexy, smooth talking, convincingly enough to draw you in as a man, big braids rocking and ripped high waist jeans, to a much more darker and in your face Janet. An album that touched on deeply personal subjects of depression, anorexia, body dysmorphia, self harm, emotional breakdowns, and even domestic violence, to me it is Janet’s best work to date and my personal favorite of them all. 20 years ago, on October 7th, 1997, Janet Jackson released her sixth album “The Velvet Rope.” With only six singles released between September 1997 and November 1998, Janet had another successful album under her belt. Before the release of the album, Janet renewed her contract with Virgin Records. Other labels were in a bidding war trying to get Janet to join them instead of Virgin, and she renewed her contract with a whopping $80 million, which was the largest recording contract for an artist at that time also making Janet one of the most highest paid artists ever in music history. With production from her husband at the time, Rene Elizondo, Jr. and her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “The Velvet Rope” is a masterpiece from beginning to end. There are absolutely NO skips on this joint. At all. The album’s production had a mixture of hip hop, R&B, pop, trip hop, folk, jazz, rock and electronic. To me though, it’s just hip hop and R&B production with guitars and pianos, a little bit of pop but not bubble gum, it’s a dark but amazing album. It’s sitting in your room alone, in the dark, crying all day and you didn’t bathe or eat or slept, you’re ignoring the entire world and you feel like you no longer want to exist, kinda album. One day you’re like “You know what? Fuck this, fuck that, fuck you, fuck everybody!” and the next you’re like “Hopefully, this will be a good day today. I’m alright today. I’m gonna call up my homies to see what’s the move today. Maybe go shopping, visit a friend, something fun.” It’s that kinda album. With so much topics this album has, you can really easily catch the ups and Down of Janet’s life and world on this joint. She’s happy, then she’s angry, then she’s sad and depressed, lonely, this album takes you all over and takes you there. Her vocals are angelic and perfect. The beats hit hard enough to feel it in your chest and to make you nod your head. The lyrical content is real and relatable. It’s timeless music. Timeless Janet. 20 years later, it’s still as amazing as it was back when it first came out. The transition from this album to her later ones got stronger but later on her career did a dangerous decline over an incident that she was a victim of but of course, Janet still comes back with a stride in her walk and a attitude and energy that’s unparalleled.
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