Must Listen: ‘Janet, Jam & Lewis: Deconstructing 30 Years of Music’
Janet — Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty — is, deservedly, back on top of pop culture yet again in 2017.
Following the kick-off of her State of the World Tour earlier this month, a continuation of her postponed Unbreakable World Tour with a socially conscious rebranding for Trump’s America and a set list that reads like fan-fiction, the world is taking notice of the 51-year-old icon’s incredible return to the stage.
Seriously, each clip from this tour is electrifying (search #SOTW on Twitter) — her moves, her body, her wig snatching. And as an eternal Queen of Cool, she’s effortlessly incorporating what’s popping right now in pop culture into her show, too: just look at this nod to Cardi B. (“The type of shit you can only dream of,” says Cardi.)
Right on time, then, comes this documentary called Janet, Jam & Lewis: Deconstructing 30 Years of Music.
Meticulously stitched together by John Cameron, the 90-minute audio special analyzes 11 different Janet songs, and uses archival interviews to tell the story of the partnership between Janet, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis – also known as one of most consistent, magical working teams in the history of music.
Spanning all the way back to the trio’s first sessions up to modern day, the documentary tells their story, almost exclusively in their own words: from Janet taking the reigns for the first time with “Control,” to moving into socially conscious territory with Rhythm Nation 1814 to the introspective and personal Velvet Rope era, the Super Bowl incident, working without Jam & Lewis on Discipline, the triumphant return to form with Unbreakable — all of it.
This is right up a nerd’s dream street, dissecting not only the intention behind the music from a thematic standpoint, but the very way individual instruments, including Janet’s voice, are used on each track. (The rough studio sessions and isolated vocal tracks, especially on “If,” are absolutely wild to hear.)
It’s beyond comprehensive, doing complete justice to the craft and the creators, and highlights the truly impressive genius of Janet, Jam & Lewis.
Get ready to go deep.
Photo credit: Mike Brooks