Artist: Janet JacksonTitle: 20 Y.O.Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes
“I wanna keep it light. I don’t want to be serious, I wanna have fun.”
Janet makes this declaration at the beginning of her ninth release 20 Y.O. (Virgin). She is referring to the past twenty years of being a trailblazer, addressing serious issues such as racism, spousal abuse, empowering women; the list continues. 20 Y.O. sweetly dedicated to celebrating life, underlines two statements: 40-y.o. is incredibly sexy and keep the party movin’.
20 Y.O. is a wonderful culmination of vintage Ms. Jackson maturing into an unmatched entity, still vulnerable, still learning but drama free. Janet does not stray far from her successful recipe of high-energy dance tracks, mellow ballads and those delicious baby making groves. Excited to be in-love and vocal about her beaux’s influence with the project, Dupri does not taint the integrity of a pure Janet album with tracks too rugged. Not to say, JD and Johnta Austin didn’t add a ‘lil A-town bounce, accompanied with JDs famous get up and dance instructions. In fact, titling the album 20 Y.O. is appropriate, as the vibe of the work complements yet updates traditional Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis, synthesized, bass and guitar rhythms.
20 Y.O. has a lengthy track list of 16 songs, five being Janet’s famous interludes. Following, “(Intro) 20,” which is a quick melancholy tickle for loyal Janet aficionados, “So Excited” featuring Khia, is undoubtedly a sexy club steamer. “Get It Out Of Me” is a fun, early Hip-Hop homage – grab your Kangols. “This Body” is a sensual rock/bounce groove, move over “Black Cat.” Nelly appears on the inaugural single “Call On Me”; ironically the least appealing song on an otherwise flawlessly jubilant album.
Since Janet decided to take Control of her meteoric career back in 1986, her soft angelic voice has always been subject to much scrutiny. On 20 Y.O. Janet has channeled her older brother Michael’s tempo. “With U” and “Days Go By” are great example of this. Feel-good songs are also apart of Janet’s seductive repertoire, “Daybreak,” and the mid-tempo “Roll With U” continues this tradition of euphoric music listening. “Take Care” explores a softer side while the Minneapolis sound Prince popularized, “Love 2 Love” explores the sensual, flirtatious exhibitionist side of Janet.
From beginning to end, 20 Y.O. is 60-minutes of pure Janet; sophisticated, sexual, energetic and fun.