Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Album Review: Janet Jackson's Discipline

We all hoped that Jermaine Dupri could do for Janet what he did for Mariah. Even the lead single "Feedback" was a step in the right direction, although it had to grow on us. Having gone through the Nipplegate scandal and flopping with 20 YO, we were sure that those rough days were behind Janet.

We finally got a chance to absorb the entire album and come to the final conclusion (we know we flip flop on this one often) that 40 year old women inately cannot be hip and/or relevant. At this age you cannot compete with the umbrella yoddling, matrix moves and uh oh booty hop of today. Today is a different day.

The difference between Janet and Madonna is that Madonna embraces the youth but puts a mature spin on her music today. This allows her to be, not so much relevant, but an option for people her age and for young folk who want to be cutting edge. Madonna no longer makes popular music but she makes music that has an audience. This is because she embraces her predecessors and creates a lane for herself. Janet on the other hand wants to compete with her predecessors and compete in the same lane. In addition, her music hasn't grown with her demographic.

Just like her previous albums, Janet is all about the nasty talk in Discipline. "Flow like a first day period" is just the beginning. Wait till you hear the song "Discipline." And then hearing Janet try to talk 'hip hop' and act all man hungry at her old age is just a turnoff. At her age most women have had kids and at a different space when it comes to men. Listening to Janet's lyrics is like listening to a horny tweenager. As a result her flow is borderline cornballish. The actual instrumental music was way too major for the lyrics and her voice to be honest. At times her vocals seem to drown in the beats.
Longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are notably absent, making way for Dupri, Ne-Yo, Rodney Jerkins, The-Dream, and StarGate. They often drown out Jackson's breathy vocals with soulless beats. Only a few midtempo grooves (''Curtains'') and schmaltzy ballads (''Never Letchu Go'') are thrown into the mix, leaving Discipline heavy on forced, forgettable dance cuts (like ''The 1,'' featuring Missy Elliott). Though Jackson boasts in ''Feedback'' that her swagger is ''heavy like a first day period,'' it's more like a bloody mess. B-

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