Janet Jackson - Discipline (2008)

Janet Jackson
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Like many of Janet Jackson's fans, I was very skeptical about another Janet album in which producers/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were not involved. I didn't know what to expect from her latest CD, Discipline, and I was even more leery of her move to Island Def Jam, home of Mariah Carey. Considering that her last two outings (2004's Damita Jo and 2006's 20 Y.O.) were critical and commercial disappointments, I was hoping that Janet would release an album that would remind us that, at one point in time, she was an innovative artist who influenced everyone from Beyonce to Rihanna. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to say that Janet Jackson is back!
Like many of Janet Jackson's fans, I was very skeptical about another Janet album in which producers/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were not involved. I didn't know what to expect from her latest CD, Discipline, and I was even more leery of her move to Island Def Jam, home of Mariah Carey. Considering that her last two outings (2004's Damita Jo and 2006's 20 Y.O.) were critical and commercial disappointments, I was hoping that Janet would release an album that would remind us that, at one point in time, she was an innovative artist who influenced everyone from Beyonce to Rihanna. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to say that Janet Jackson is back!

Although it's not Control or The Velvet Rope, Discipline is the album that returns Janet Jackson to greatness. With Jam and Lewis no longer behind the boards, a production team consisting of Jermaine Dupri, Ne-Yo, Johnta Austin, Rodney Jerkins, D'Mile, Maddscientist, Stargate, Shea Taylor, Tricky Stewart, and The Dream provide Janet with a fresh and invigorating sound. "Feedback," with its sing-along hook and distinctive melody, gets this disc jumping courtesy of Jerkins, and Jackson backdoors that with the ever-bangin' "LUV," which is classic Janet. However, the track that places Janet in another league is the Ne-Yo helmed "Rock With U."  The futuristic sound of this soon-to-be hit single works beautifully. Ne-Yo is becoming a very sought-after producer/songwriter in his own right and listening to this makes you wonder what kind of magic would be created if he wrote an entire album for Janet. On "Can't B Good," Janet takes a page from brother Michael by creating her own version of "Human Nature" and the result is marvelous. Dupri and Austin drop a gem on the piano-laden "Never Letchu Go," bringing her voice front and center, and "Greatest X" speaks of love lost in typical Janet "Come Back to Me" fashion. Missy Elliot drops in on "The 1" as the two divas engage in some frank conversation. The title track, at the tail end of the CD, is destined to go down as a classic Janet Jackson slow-jam with it's breathy vocals and risque lyrics not fit for this review.

With the exception of the overdone interludes that have become the staple of Janet's albums, Discipline is a great project. This is the Janet Jackson that many fans have been waiting on perhaps since 2001's All For You, and this new album should return her back to the charts as well as the dance floor. Listening to this CD gives you the sense that she enjoyed making the album and after all she has been through the past several years, she is refreshed and ready to have some fun. Highly, highly recommended.    

By Christopher Whaley
 
Album of the Month - Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu
Choice Cut - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'

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