Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday : Janet Jackson 20 Y.O.

I’m still on a musical high after seeing Janet Jackson in concert last night, so of course, she will get some more love. I decided to revisit her ninth album, 2006’s 20 Y.O., for this week’s Second Listen Sunday.

Following an unfair lukewarm response to 2004’s Damita Jo, Jackson decided it was time for a change. Initially, Janet worked with Hip Hop heavyweight producers The Neptunes, Dr. Dre, Kwamé, and Polow Da Don. Allegedly the entire concept was bananas, but Jermaine Dupri Jackson’s boyfriend at the time and label division president changed the vibe. 
The new vision of the album was a celebration of what was happening musically when Janet’s third solo and breakthrough, Control, hit stores in 1986. Primarily Janet’s longtime collaborators Jam & Lewis, along with Dupri, oversaw the production. In addition, Johnta Austin, Manuel Seal, The Avilla Brothers, and No I.D. graced Janet with some magic.
“Call On Me” was the album’s first single. A mid-tempo featuring ballad featuring Nelly was the perfect way to kick off the summer. In essence, the main idea conveyed by “Call On Me” is to take the initiative and seek out a companion or a sympathetic ear whenever necessary. “So Excited” was the album’s second single and featured another Hip Hop artist in the form of female rapper Khia.

While Khia had a colossal hit four years prior with “My Neck, My Back (Lick It),” let’s be honest, she was never an A-list rapper. To this day, I question why Missy, Shawna, or Trina wasn’t on the track, as all three were more popular at the time. Upon reflection, the song’s lackluster performance on the charts might fall on its message of a woman’s submission to her lover conveyed through its lyrics.

The final single from the album was the ballad “With U.” Before the album’s release, I remember reading an article with Dupri saying it would be a massive hit for Janet. The song “With U” was intentionally created as a continuation of Jackson’s 1986 single “Let’s Wait Awhile,” which depicted two characters postponing intimacy. However, “With U” delves into the aftermath of the act and the ensuing perplexity in the relationship.

The rest of the project carries a somewhat eccentric vibe. “Show Me,” “Get It Out Me,” and “Do It Me” aren’t necessarily bad songs but seem better suited for Ciara. Thankfully Janet has some magic left in the form of “Daybreak,” which harks back to “Escapade” and “Runaway.”  “Enjoy” is a lovely song that puts the listener in a blissful mood and should have been the second single.
Janet closes the project with two ballads, “Take Care” and ” Love 2 Love”. “Take Care” finds Janet exploring the themes of self-pleasure in a tasteful mood. At the same time, “Love 2 Love” is a sultry ode to the intensity and pleasure experienced in a relationship when two people genuinely love and desire each other.
Despite a few questionable song choices, by no means is 20 Y.O.  a lousy album. I understand the vibe Janet and her producers were going for. However, it may have been too much for the masses with eleven songs, an introduction, three interludes, and an outro. 

I often ask, would the response have been better if the album only had nine songs similar to Control? Nevertheless, some songs on 20 Y.O. are worth adding to your playlist.
Final Grade: B

20 Y.O is available on all streaming platforms

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