Janet Jackson Covers ‘Billboard,’ Looks Back On Her Classic Albums
Janet Jackson will be honored with the Icon Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on May 20, so it’s only fitting that she lands on the cover of the music bible this week. She poses for a shadowy shoot with a group of her dancers and looks back on her incredible career. “Control was undoubtedly the break-through,” the 52-year-old muses. “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’m much more a collaborator than a controller,” Janet continues. “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. They let me be me. They encouraged me to tell my story, express my attitudes and step forward with my convictions. They encouraged me to write. I also had the control to select choreographers and video directors who could channel – and help me shape — my own dance moves, turning them into visual poetry.”
The “Dammn Baby” singer also has great memories of Janet. “How honored and moved I was to have the great opera diva Kathleen Battle sing with me on ‘This Time.’ That was something of an innovation,” she remembers. “In contrast, it was great to include Chuck D’s rap on ‘New Agenda.’ I didn’t want this album to ignore serious issues.” Not that the pop icon is stuck in the past. Ms. Jackson is currently working on new music. “I’m very intuitive about writing,” she reveals. “Anything can inspire me.”
“This morning, I saw this lovely elderly Japanese woman walking down the streets of Hollywood wearing an adorable bonnet with bright red flowers,” Janet recounts. “She might be a song. I remembered an especially painful chapter in my early life last night before going to bed. That might be a song… like everyone else, my feelings are fluid. My ideas are fleeting. I like to keep it that way. I can’t decide in advance what a song or an album concept will be. I have to let those songs and concepts come to me rather than chase them down.”
It also looks like the living legend still has her finger on the pulse of what’s hot. “Daniel Caesar is proving that romantic R&B is alive and well,” Janet says. “Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are proving that brilliantly original storytelling is one of hip-hop’s great gifts to world culture. SZA is proving that young women still possess extraordinary vocal skills and style.” And she has another, more obvious, favorite. “I also have a special place in my heart for Bruno Mars.” Read the full interview here and click through the pics up top.