Janet Jackson‘s career is about to get a face lift unlike any it has seen since she got her…face lift. The big news is that Janet’s next album, which she says should be out early next year, may not end up including any contributions from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the production gods that single-handedly turned her into a megastar by outfitting her with the robotic Minneapolis funk that defined her initial musical success. Starting with 1986’s Control, Jam and Lewis have been Janet’s key collaborators, contributing more to each album since than any other outside producer she enlisted. Together the three of them are R&B Voltron. Today, the robot sleeps.
Janet revealed the news during a press conference for her new film Why Did I Get Married?, when she revealed that Ne-Yo, Rodney Jerkins and (everyone groan all together) Jermaine Durpri are on her list of collaborators, but Jam and Lewis are not…at least for now.
Janet revealed that about a week ago, but has slightly changed her tune since. She told the AP more optimistic news regarding Jam and Lewis’ involvement with the as-yet-untitled project: “And if we’re really going to work together on this album, I don’t know. I’m not quite sure. Hopefully we can and we’ll get together and be able to do at least a couple of things together.”
Hopefully is right! A deaf person could tell you that not associating with the men who know her best musically has everything to do with her previous two albums, 2004’s Damita Jo and 2006’s 20 Y.O., flopping entirely. But Jam and Lewis’ melodic and sonic contributions were the best things about those records, which were hurt more by Nipplegate fall-out and botched than anything else. Anything else, that is, besides Jermaine Dupri, who contributed a lot to 20 Y.O. and only proved that he has no idea how to produce his girlfriend. He outfits Janet with the same sparse and mechanical 808s that he gives Mariah Carey, who’s about 10 times the singer that Janet and can support herself vocally that much more effectively.
Jermaine previously said that he’d have no involvement with Janet’s upcoming project, which was welcome news. Janet’s recent revelations feel like a set back. Fight the real enemy, Jan, and keep your business with Jermaine in the bedroom. [AP/Billboard]