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#Dazed93: Jimmy Jam on Janet

R&B legend Jimmy Jam on producing the album where Janet Jackson opened up: janet.

Taken from the August issue of Dazed & Confused:

Janet Jackson’s fifth studio album, janet., was arguably her coming-of-age project. It saw her shed the military garb of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) and propel her sexuality and marriage to an unknown man (later revealed as René Elizondo) into the public spotlight. Produced like her previous two albums by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the Minneapolis-based team behind hits for The Time, Alexander O’Neal, the SOS Band, the Human League, George Michael and many, many others, janet. signalled a new level of confidence. The album went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide and reach number one in five countries, while “That’s The Way Love Goes” won her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. Jimmy Jam, who along with his partner was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall of Fame in December 2012, looks back on the janet. sessions and the album’s recent revival, thanks to Mr Kendrick Lamar.

“janet. was very much a departure from Rhythm Nation in that we were all kind of happy and in love, and that’s what the album ended up reflecting. It was about creating what that sounds like – what ‘sexy’ sounds like, what ‘love’ sounds like. For us, ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ was the perfect entrée, if you will, into what the album was going to be.

She said, ‘Would you make me a cassette of all the tracks?’ I put ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ which sampled ‘Papa Don’t Take No Mess’. Two weeks later, she walks into the studio and says, ‘We’ve gotta do that track!'

At one point in the recording we took a two-week break for the holidays and Janet went to a place in Anguilla called Cap Juluca, her favourite little getaway spot. She said, ‘Would you make me a cassette of all the tracks?’ I put ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ on for the heck of it, which sampled ‘Papa Don’t Take No Mess’ because I’d been a big James Brown fan back in the day. Two weeks later, she comes back, walks into the studio and says, ‘We’ve gotta do that track! Oh my God, we played it non-stop!’ At that time, she and René were staying at my house. At about one in the morning, the intercom went off in my bedroom. She goes, ‘Jimmy? Are you awake?’ I said, ‘I am now.’ She said, ‘I’ve got the concept. It’s going to be called ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’.’ Throughout the whole project, it was our favourite record. We liked everything we did, but there was something about that song that we just thought was so different and really captured that part of her life.

I remember hearing the ‘Any Time, Any Place’ sample on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Poetic Justice’. He wanted to clear the sample – Drake wasn’t on it yet – and I thought, ‘Wow! I never would’ve thought to sample it like that.’ Fast-forward six months later, I’m listening to one of the radio stations out here in LA, Power 106, and they put that song on. So I called Janet and said, ‘Janet, have you heard this ‘Poetic Justice’ record? You have to hear this record. It’s so cool!’ We were really excited, and she’s since talked about how much she loves it. It makes me feel good on a personal level because I have a 12-year-old who is really tuned into music, and he said, ‘Okay I gotta go back and listen to the original song.’ 

That’s the thing I love.”