CD Review: Discipline

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The atrocious and ludicrous reviews I have read about Janet Jackson’s stunning new album “Discipline” makes me cringe. It is obvious some journalists have no objectivity and clearly are unprofessional. A critic needs to think about the audience and demographics an artist is trying to reach. Why don’t some music journalists just be honest and state that they hate Janet Jackson? Some critics are too esoteric they have this pretentious attitude that their views are the only perspectives that are acceptable.  The Entertainment Weekly review of Janet’s latest CD “Discipline” was just lazy journalism and has zero credibility. Some people just don’t have any perspective and are treating Janet Jackson so unfairly.

When Madonna was extremely sexual in the early 1990s with “Erotica” she encountered a major backlash from the mainstream press. Madonna is a shrewd business woman she transformed her image in order to maintain “respectability” and her popularity by “softening” her image. People also immediately forget Madonna also had a bomb 2003 “American Life” only went gold. I think Madonna became more boring and less relevant. The white media praised Madonna for toning down her sexual image and claimed she was “maturing”.

I think the anger the white media have against Janet Jackson is misplaced. The black press has always been more balanced in their views about Janet Jackson. 20 Y.O. was a crappy album and I think even Janet Jackson would admit this. However, Janet Jackson isn’t “withdrawing” or “softening” her image at all for anybody. When male singers sing explicit songs nobody says they are acting desperate or trying too hard to be sexual. So why are different standards applied to female singers? It appears to me the media is still extremely sexist against women expressing their sexuality. Some people are uncomfortable with female sexuality but that’s their problem. Janet Jackson is a grown ass woman and she has the freedom to express herself anyway she wants.

In fact, Janet is continuing on her own path singing the songs she wants to sing she’s not letting anyone tell her what to do. I applaud Janet Jackson for refusing to allow anyone to stop her from expressing herself through her music. The media need to stop complaining about Janet Jackson and get with the program. Janet Jackson has always been a very provocative artist.

One of the most important aspects of any Janet Jackson CD are the numerous interludes this is Janet’s trademark. Some people complain the interludes are “boring” but where have these people been all these years? Janet Jackson’s albums always have interludes she is interested in providing some context and perspective to her songs. “Discipline” is Janet’s strongest album this decade. Many artists have attempted to copy Janet but there is one and only Janet Jackson. I think the interludes allows the listener to understand Janet’s personality better.

There are times on this album that Janet sounds like her brother Michael. The ballad “Can’t B good” reminds me of a Michael Jackson song. Janet is vulnerable on this song questioning herself about a relationship that didn’t work. Sometimes when Janet sings she reminds me of her older brother. Another wicked track “Never Letchu Go” Janet vocals are strong. The ballad “Greatest X” is about heartbreak it is a beautiful song. The S&M song “Discipline” is a mellifluous slow burn that some conservative people may not appreciate since the lyrics are steamy and sexy . Another ballad I love is “Curtains” the song has a wonderful beat. The mid tempo song “The 1″ with Janet and Missy Elliott is so playful, cute, and cool I love the funky beat.

I can admit due to my own ingrained sexism since I was raised in the Occidental world that sexuality is viewed as being reserved for young people. If Janet Jackson wants to sing about having multiple orgasms then she has the right to. Thank goodness Janet’s enjoying sex and she’s just letting us know about it. If Janet Jackson wants to moan about masturbation then more power to her. If Janet wants to sing about the various sexual positions she has sex then good for her. We all masturbate, we all have sex, and we all try various different sexual positions. I don’t see the big deal here.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a subversive message that the mainstream is fearful of black female sexuality? Since the days of slavery black women have had a tug of war of being viewed as licentious or being pristine. Why can’t a black woman be confident about her sexuality and not be depicted as a loose or fallen woman? I don’t think Janet is stereotyping black women at all by discussing sex and I don’t think its just a marketing tactic either.

Male sexuality is never scorned men are granted permission to discuss sex until we die. Why are there double standards for women? Sex is beautiful and America is still a puritanical nation that attempts to force female sexuality into certain categories. Janet Jackson is 41 years old and girlfriend works out she has an amazing body. Janet takes care of herself she has a right to flaunt her sexuality if she wants to.

It is obvious to the discerning eye that some people in the media have an axe to grind and a vendetta against Janet Jackson because she’s a Jackson. Thankfully for all Janet Jackson fans she has learned from the mistakes from Damita Jo, and 20 Y.O. I believe Damita Jo is an underrated album but the media crucified Janet Jackson and branded her with the Scarlet Letter after the 2004 Super Bowl. Damita Jo according to the RIAA has shipped platinum and sold about 1 million copies. 20 Y.O. was a flop it was only certified gold. 20 Y.O. was definitely a sloppy album with only a few solid songs such as “Take Care”, “So Excited”, “Get It On Me”, and “Enjoy”.

Janet has made some drastic changes and I am glad she has the courage to move forward in her career . Discipline is a blend between the old Janet Jackson sound and a new fresh R&B sound. First, Janet’s long time producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are gone. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are wonderful producers but their time has passed. Janet has worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for over twenty years and her sound was starting to become stale and dry. It was a shrewd move on Janet’s part to hire producers such as Johnta Austin, Rodney Jerkins, The Dream, Tricky Stewart, Stargate, Shea Taylor, Ne Yo, and her boyfriend Jermaine Dupri to work on the album. Janet has also switched record labels she left Virgin for Island. Virgin America disrespected Janet Jackson when they didn’t campaign hard enough to generate publicity for Janet’s last two albums Damita Jo, and 20 Y.O.

Jackson is a legend and people need to let the Super Bowl incident die and move on. One thing I don’t understand why Justin Timberlake never received the same treatment as Janet Jackson? Justin was the aggressor he rips off Janet’s top yet Janet gets all the grief. Once again, the white man is the stud while the black woman is scorned. The mainstream media are demonstrating the pernicious racism and sexism against black women. Why is Janet still being treated like she is Hester Prynne? I respect Janet because unlike some stars she doesn’t air her dirty laundry to the press. For example, Janet was married for nine years yet kept her marriage secret. Janet is an icon and she deserves our respect for all her hard work in transforming pop culture for black entertainers. Janet seems so humble and so sweet and has a very interesting personality I have always found her to be mysterious. Janet also seems to genuinely love her fans she comes across as a real person unlike certain pop stars.

Janet Jackson is very rare in the entertainment industry she has a very famous brother Michael Jackson and yet she emerged from Michael’s shadow to become an international superstar. Janet’s father Joe Jackson pushed Janet into becoming a singer in the year 1982 and finally in 1985 she fired Joe and became independent. The rest is history. Every superstar has times in their career when their record sales goes down nobody stays on top forever.

So many young female singers such as Beyonce, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Rihanna, and Ciara have all been influenced by Janet Jackson. Janet Jackson was the first modern black female pop star that had the hard baseline grooves, mixed with the pop sound. Janet has evolved over the years. The bottom line is Janet Jackson is going to talk about sex and she doesn’t care what the media or public has to say. I think this CD “Discipline” demonstrates Janet is very confident about herself and this is a very effervescent CD.

The album is mostly club bangers and mid tempo songs but this is Janet Jackson’s strength. I wonder what some reviewers want from Janet? Janet Jackson has never been about saving the world or about the environment. Janet has already had hit songs about racism, homophobia, sexism, family discord, and domestic violence.

The first five songs are club bangers “Feedback”, “Rollercoaster”, “Luv”, “Rock With U”, and “2nite”. I also love the mid tempo songs such as “What’s Ur name”, “So Much Betta”. I hope Janet decides to go on tour this year. The production is incredible, this album represents the real Janet Jackson. Discipline is definitely a solid CD and I definitely recommend that people purchase a copy. Welcome back Janet Jackson!

About orvillelloyddouglas

I am a gay black Canadian male.

3 responses to “CD Review: Discipline”

  1. Robert says :

    Well I must say that it is refreshing to hear (read) a nice comment about Janet Jackson. I have been a Janet fan for most of my life (now 31), and it seems that you do hear a lot of backlash about almost any & everything she does; she’s dating Jermain Dupri, she’s too sexy, she’s old, etc…

    I think what this review is very honest. I, like many other Janet fans, LOVE the CD, I think it’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s now. On the flip side, I do wish there was at least one Jam & Lewis track, I do miss their work.

    I pretty much agree with a lot of the Orville has to say in this review, though I disagree about her last album. I agree that DamitaJo is severely underrated, it’s become in my top 3 favorite Janet CD’s. 20Y.O. is a great CD too, the more I listen too it, the more I like it. Sometimes I think Janet just wanted to do something a bit different. Yes the formula was off a bit, but I don’t think the CD was a total waste as many believe.

  2. dakota says :

    This cd rocks , this is her best work! I made lov to several songs on the album..:)

  3. time says :

    Good article, when you say “why should black women be depicted as loose or fallen”…i couldn’t agree more.When you say Janet Jackson is rarity in the industry…thats a bullseye. Its become obvious to me that she’s is treated unfairly. Thank GOD people don’t have all the say.

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