November 22, 2022
A Brief Lookback 25 Years Later
The Velvet Rope is considered an album that changed the scope of Janet’s career refined her message, and influenced many artists today. From the album’s message, musical composition, and overall spirit of liberation, it is no surprise that it received so much praise and adoration during its 25th Anniversary. That’s right, Janet Jackson released The Velvet Rope on October 7, 1997, her 6th studio album. The album featured six singles; the first being Got till It’s Gone and the final being Every Time. The album sold 10 million copies worldwide. It’s undoubtedly beyond that total with re-release updates and recertifications. In fact, on November 14, 2022, two singles from The Velvet Rope were certified as platinum singles, having now sold over a million copies.
But what makes everyone want to come back to the album all these years later? It may be that The Velvet Rope was Janet’s most personal album at the time, where she laid it out all over the table. She discussed racial discrimination, LGBTQ+ discrimination, loss, being an outsider, domestic violence, and sexual liberation, among many other issues. On The Velvet Rope, Janet showed a more vulnerable, self-aware, and socially conscious side of herself, which made the album critically controversial at the time.
However, like the true talent and legend, she stuck by what she felt was most authentic. She essentially wrote and released a project that still has people raving about how socially forward and confident she was in her artistry. Defying the stereotypical image that the industry was determined to place on her, she worked through years of personal strife and triumphs to produce a project that would influence social movements and legions of fans to live in their truths. In fact, TVR was so ahead of its time that many of the issues and topics she sang about on The Velvet Rope are still hot-button and even taboo subjects. So, TVR remains timeless beyond the classic feel of the music and its lyrics.
TVR produced several hits and singles, but some of the most notable standouts weren’t released as singles: My Need, What About, and Anything. My Need has a vibe that makes you want to get up, dance, and be naughty. The song features jazz, hip-hop, and pop because it samples classic hits by some of soul music’s most outstanding: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s You’re All I Need to Get By, Diana Ross Love Hangover, and America’s I Need You.
On What About, Janet explores the dimensions of domestic violence and abuse. The song is both lyrically raw and emotional in which she serves the audience and listener with one of her best singing and theatric performances. As the song progresses, Janet presents the trappings, vulnerability, and behavior patterns found in abuse. Many fans have thanked the singer for not shying away from how abuse looks and bringing attention to the practice that could help save lives. What’s even more remarkable about the release of the album and this particular song, in general, is that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Lastly, Anything is the sultry song, proceeded by the sexually adventurous Rope Burn on TVR, that explores sexual fantasy and freedom, essentially providing an alternative meaning to The Velvet Rope. Listening to Anything, you can hear the musical influences on today’s artists, from the seductive and sultry tone that Janet has on the song to the beat and melody used to propel the message of being sexually accessible and willing to do whatever to please your partner.
In all, what took the world 25 years to realize is that Janet saw a reality beyond one dimension. People are more than one dimension, and their tastes, style, experiences, and sexuality reflect that narrative. Janet would release more projects just as bold and whimsical as TVR. But, we can indeed thank her for being brave enough to bare her soul with the world and encouraging others to do the same, all because of the 1997 classic album, The Velvet Rope.