Janet Jackson Talks Working With Missy Elliott, Her Legacy and Why She Believes ‘Music Is More Alive Than Ever’
As one of the most influential cultural forces of our time, Janet is set to receive Billboard's Icon Award this year. Over the past four decades, she's amassed a global following and a slew of hits. She's had No. 1 albums in four consecutive decades, sold roughly 32 million albums in the United States, and according to a Billboard estimate (based on RIAA certifications, Nielsen Music data and archival reports) has had 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including 10 No. 1s.
In the her sit-down with Billboard, the music legend ran through her discography, speaking about key creative moments, her impact on music and how she's crafted her legendary run. Take a look at some of the interview highlights below.
"Control was undoubtedly the break-through," she told Billboard. "But I think the concept is sometimes misunderstood. I’m a believer. I know that God has absolute control. I’ve never wavered in that belief. I don’t mean I don’t get controlling -- most artists do. But I also know that turning myself into a control freak goes against my character. I’m much more a collaborator than a controller. So I saw control, even as a 20-year-old, in modest and limited ways. For example, I agreed to be produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. That was critical because they were not controlling.
janet. had a deeply sensual edge because that’s what I was going through in my life. I was discovering freedom in physical pleasure and loved writing about sexuality. I tried to do it subtly and tastefully, but I also wanted to push the boundaries a bit.
On working with Missy Elliott and Kanye West:
Missy Elliott, an incredible artist who has been there for me as a loyal friend and strong sista, did a fabulous remix on “Son of a Gun” from All for You, leading to our video together. That was big fun. We got together again on “The I” from [2008’s] Discipline, when I was working with Rodney Jerkins and Jermaine Dupri. I also loved collaborating with Kanye West on “My Baby” from Damita Jo. This was 2004, College Dropout time, when the world was just recognizing his talent.
On the state of the nation and whether or not she's discouraged:
No. I’m anxious. I’m angry. I’m certainly concerned, but when I hear new artists finding their voices, just as I found mine, I’m optimistic. Young artists are exhibiting more courage than ever. Music is more alive than ever. And more relevant. We women artists -- and women in general -- are saying we will not be controlled, manipulated or abused. We’re determined not to fall back to those days of emotional and even physical enslavement. It’s a blessing to be alive today and join in the fight for equality among all human beings.
Janet Jackson will receive the Billboard Icon Award this Sunday, May 20 at 8.p.m. Read her interview in full here.
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