Since her breast-baring incident with Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl football championship game in January, Janet Jackson has been in the headlines. She claimed that it was an accident, and the result of a "wardrobe malfunction." Janet and her record company are wondering how the controversy will affect sales of her brand new album Damita Jo.
The title of Janet Jackson's album Damita Jo come from her middle name, and the name of a comedian and singer from the 1950s and '60s. Lyrically, the album's main theme is the ups and downs of relationships, along with explorations of her sexuality. There are elements of Janet's sound from the 1980s, along with pop, old-school funk, rock, jazz and even a bit of country. In some songs, she borrows a bit from Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Prince and brother, Michael Jackson. Janet also includes some spoken-word interludes where she talks intimately to her listeners. The album cover shows Janet in a topless pose, covering herself with her hands. In the aftermath of the Super Bowl controversy, Janet decided not to alter the album cover or change any of the songs. "A lot of people had concerns and wanted me to take certain songs off the album, but I refused, because, in doing so, I wouldn't be who I am. I'm not going to change. Either they like it or they don't," she comments.
Much of Janet Jackson's Damita Jo CD was produced by her long-time collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, along with a few other new contributors. She called in hit hip-hop producers Dallas Austin and Kanye West, who added vocals on the song My Baby. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Janet's boyfriend, Jermaine Dupri also produced some tracks. Sexual imagery leaves nothing to the imagination on the songs Sexhibition, Warmth and Strawberry Bounce. So far, reviews of Damita Jo have been mixed. Canada's Winnipeg Sun newspaper refers to the album as "ill-conceived, misguided and a career malfunction," and Rolling Stone magazine speaks of trying to "wade through" all of Janet's sexual overtones to "get to Damita Jo's solid ground." The music website Launch, however, says that Damita Jo "could stand alongside Control and Rhythm Nation as Jackson's finest work." People magazine agrees that the album "continues her streak of first-rate R&B/pop discs." In March, Janet won an award for outstanding career achievement at the Soul Train Music Awards. She thanked her fans for being there "during the good times as well as the bad, especially these last few weeks."
Janet is expected to tour later this year in support of her new album.