Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rhythmic Review: Janet Jackson - Discipline

Over the past few years, when it came to Janet and her music it's been a lose/lose situation for her. Damita Jo was an extremely solid album overshadowed with controversy,that wont get anymore attention from me past this sentence, so yanno, it must have been bad right? wrong. On 20 Y.O, faithful fans justifiably screamed they were ignored when a sound directed more toward a BET friendly audience made up the bulk of the album. A Pop/R&B hybrid sound perfectly molded by Janet earlier on in her career, that could be appreciated by not only the Beckys of the world but also the Beckeishas, was abandoned, an album was appreciated by many was slammed by many more. Now with her 10th studio album, Discipline on the shelves, new cries and concerns are being made by fare weather fans and critics alike. Janets not growing! Janets too old!! I miss old Janet!!, which for many new and young fans is The Velvet Rope Janet...yea those that don't even own Rhythm Nation or janet still feel the need to flap their gums. She just cant win, Penny is STILL getting the iron!!! Luckily this time around shes not trying to cater to anyone or recapture any particular sound of the past, only to fail miserably like a few other divas have...this time shes simply doing what she does best, and that's have FUN, proving that Janet is at her best when she does what the hell she wants with or without the help or input of others.

I initially went into this album completely detaching Janet the CELEBRITY from it. When it comes to an album with entirely TOO much hype surrounding it that's what I tend to do, its the best thing to do to get a fair review and a fair appreciation for it. I can care less how ugly her man is, how many nipples she's shown to the world, or her age. Its ALL about the material, and for the most part on this album, the material is damn good. With that out of the way I appreciated the fact that this is a great pop album and a solid Janet album.

I'm far from a Janet Stan so I purchased and listened to this album off of the strength of the AMAZING first single "FeedBack" and follow up "Luv", both produced by Rodney Jerkins, who is at his best and makes you wonder why he didn't do the entire album if the chemistry between he and Janet would produce tracks like this. These songs are very reminiscent of Full Moon era Brandy, but much more suitable and believable because its Janet, Miss Jackson if ya nasty!!!!!!! bringing the futuristic songs to life instead of yanno... Moesha. Thanks to Rodney many of the Interludes Janet is so famously known for doesn't seem as much of a hindrance and unnecessary as they have on past albums, and in a few cases add to the appeal of the song that follows it like on the infectious and fan favorite "So Much Betta".

While were on So Much Better, Bringing in the shock value on this album are the tracks produced by Jermaine Dupri that are actually GOOD. Many blamed Dupri for the lacklusterness that was 20 Y.O. but this time around his creations "Rock With You" and "The 1" proves that he is a great producer when he approaches individual artist differently, what works for Mariah or Usher doesn't work for everyone else, who knew. While the former takes you to a care free let go and dance type of mind set the ladder makes you want to pop it as hard as you can and with Missy Elliott along lending guest vocals, it doesn't help much when it comes to fighting the feeling.

This album is by no means perfect, with forgettable tracks like "Never Letchu Go" and The Dream penned, Tricky Stewart produced "Greatest X". Clearly judging by this track these gentlemen completely ignored the reception of 20 y.o. because this song would have went perfectly on there, and I would have hated it just the same. Just because these tracks aren't high tempo dance joints doesn't mean that's why they don't stand out in my mind. The potential single "Can't be Good" gives a perfect head nodding groove alternative to many of the ass shaking uptempo tracks on Discipline while "Whats your name" has summer single written all over it.
The title track of the album along with the closing song "Curtains" Reminds listeners that Janet isn't in competition with the Beyonces or the Britneys of the world but is following her own path, one paved by herself alittle over 2 decades ago. With majority of her albums, Janet has always possessed one important thing, a point of view, no matter how overdone or repetitive it may have been, shes always had one. Proclaiming that shes "misbehaved" and that her "punishment should fit her crime" Janet comes off strong and comfortable in every good possible way, although a bit reminiscent of that one overly sexual track from like every Janet album since the janet album itself back in 93.

I think that Discipline is a VERY solid album, her best since 2001's All For You. The production is genius on the tracks that work and along with the visuals it all adds up to make this one of the best Pop albums I've experienced in months. Regardless if you want to knit pick at Janet and say she's Too old (apparently after you turn 30, sex and fun shouldn't be in your vocabulary, unless your Mariah and I guess u get a ho pass or something) or focus on her past work and play the compare and contrast game (shes in a happier place and a somewhat simpler time in her life, so I wouldn't imagine her to be as introspective as she was on TVR), this album WORKS and you can't deny that. If this album doesn't perform as expected I hope Janet still chooses to stand behind it, because no matter how popular it is among celebrities to slam an album AFTER it flops (Mariah "GLITTER WAS A SOUNDTRACK DAMMIT!" Carey or Mary J."Love and Life was all LUCIFER AKA DIDDY'S DOING!" Blige and even Janet herself "THE MUSIC JUST WASN'T RIGHT!, ALL 2 ALBUMS WORTH OF TRACKS! OOPSIES") I believe this album deserves the support now and forever because its a suitable addition to the legacy that is Janet Jackson
I give Discipline a B

In Stores Now!!!!!!!


QH said...

An excellent write-up. Historical but definitely from a place of non-bias. And humorous, well done!

Anonymous said...

I love your review. I would give the album an A-. I agree that it is her best since All For You. Discipline is at #1! have you heard the news?