Album review: Janet Jackson - Discipline

Album review: Janet Jackson - DisciplineAfter a string of whack albums and a moment that almost damaged her career (we know which one. I won't mention it in detail because we're moving past it and I wanted to write a review without saying the word 'titty'. Oh shit, I just failed!) Janet hit back with her album Discipline. Many were weary if Janet could bring it back and put out a decent album, but I think she's managed to pull it off. Too bad it bombed like the Al qaeda.

Discipline kicks off with five hot uptempo numbers back to back and it's clear from this point that Janet isn't messing around. "Feedback" is your bog standard club track with wavering synths and vocoded vocals. It's nothing amazing, but serves as a good lead single and start to the album. "LUV" has Janet hitting us with a full on urban banger and is the first example on the album of Janet venturing into a somewhat new sound she hasn't worked before. This song has 'Summer smash' written all over it: the lyrics are brilliantly playful, the chorus is catchy and Janet sounds great on it. "Rollercoaster" is classic Janet and a great homage to her classics "Escapade" and "Runaway". Things then move on to two sexy club tracks "Rock with U" and "2nite". "Rock with U" is amazingly seductive and the sexiest song Janet has done in a long while - complete with its digital blips, bouncy bass lines and perfect harmonies. "2nite" is classic Janet right down to the ground. She sounds amazing on this track and it was completely wasted. It should have been a single. It's a much better dance record than "Feedback" because Janet doesn't feel so disconnected and like she's on auto pilot throughout the whole thing. "2nite" has Stargate on production duties and has a sound similar to Rihanna's "Don't stop the music". A great track and without a doubt my favourite song on the album. The only problem I have with the song is the horrendous break down on the second verse and after the bridge. It sounds like a Daft Punk remix of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" composed on the most basic MIDI software known to man. It doesn't feel right, sounds cheesy and throws the bounce of the song off. The chorus is so hot and Janet sounds so great on this song that even this isn't enough to ruin the song flat out. Janet tones down the synths and the hand claps for "So much betta" and "The 1". These two songs are very similar in not only lyrical content, but sound: both exhibiting the old skool street sound Janet exhibited on a couple of songs on 'The velvet rope'. "So much betta" is short, sweet and playful and "The 1" features Missy Elliott who comes with the nastiness as always. The way she goes on you'd think she's never had sex in her life. But it's Missy, so you gotta laugh and love her. Both songs are decent, but the synth laden club tracks are much better as they channel more of the Janet we've known and loved for so long.

Janet also brings some soulful mid tempo's to the table. "Can't b good" is really nice and has Janet channelling that famous older brother of hers - sounding like an amalgamation of "Butterflies" and something Quincy Jones would've given Michael when he was actually black. Jermaine Dupri tries his hand at a similar sounding song for "What's ur name", but it falls flat because lyrically it's a mess. I'm not able to fully believe that Janet would roll up on a n***a, ask"What's yo name?" and demand his number so she can put it in her sidekick. A real shame because vocally, Janet sounds great, especially on the chorus. Title track "Discipline" is bloody awful. Hands down the worst song on the album. It really is shit and I can't believe Ne-Yo wrote it and thought for a second it was even remotely good. I hate the graphic sex songs Janet does and this track falls into that bracket. I've got nothing against sex songs, but be classy and clever with the song writing and leave something to the imagination. Janet may as well have called this song "Strung up in a sex sling, with leather belts around my titties and my p***y out with a gag in my mouth". Thankfully Rodney Jerkins is able to bring it back and inject some sexy class into the album closer "Curtains", with a pulsating bass line, soft guitar plucks and a horn section - giving the song a very "I get lonley"-ish sound. This is how Janet should roll on the sexy tracks. Tasteful, yet with a hint of playful kinkiness and most importantly, class.

Even though Janet plays off of her more uptempo numbers, she's also known for her ballads, of which this album features two. "Never letchu go" and "Greatest X" - both throwing back to her previous ballads "Again" and "Everytime". "Greatest X" has a nice beat and nice enough lyrics, but Janet doesn't sell the song. You get the feeling Janet's heart isn't in it and she'd rather be singing a song about getting f**ked and calling the song "Greatest sex". (I'm surprised she didn't). A nice song, but I wish more was done with it. "Never letchu go" is Jermaine Dupri's take on a classic Janet ballad and the end result is a song that's as bland as a loaf of bread. Sitting it alongside "Greatest X" on the tracklisting was a mistake because the sounds are far too similar. "Never letchu go" should've been deleted from the album at the eleventh hour. The melody is nice at first, but soon treads into 'annoying' territory. Couple this with the song having a near non-existent hook and unmemorable lyrics and you have a candidate for worst song on the album alongside "Discipline".

Janet relinquishes alot of creative control on this album. For Janet to not only make a decision to not work with longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but to also place her music in the hands with a bunch of producers and writers she hadn't worked with before was incredibly brave of her, but long overdue. The brilliant thing about this is that her sound isn't compromised. Even Janet didn't write or co-produce any of the sons, the sound is still unmistakably Janet. She was not stupid in who she worked with, as every producer got her sound. A special mention has to go to Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins. Every one of his contributions is solid and it's clear that he has a definite chemistry with Janet and that they had fun in the studio. He does a brilliant job of bridging the gap between the sound that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis cultivated for Janet, and his own. Fans who were disappointed at the lack of Jam and Lewis on this album needn't worry - as Jerkins does a brilliant job in their place. The same can't be said for Jermaine Dupri though. As with 20 Y.O Jermaine Dupri's contributions are very hit and miss. Janet needs to realise that Dupri doesn't have the same musical chemistry with her that he has with Mariah and Usher. Two less songs from him would've tightened up things considerably.

Whilst the production on the whole is solid, it does feel ragged here and there. "Rock with U", "2Nite", "Greatest X" and "So much betta" are solid songs, but upon listening to them you get the feeling that something is missing. "So much betta" actually sounds like it's unmixed and "Rock with U" doesn't flow right from section to section. It sounds very cut and pasted.

Discipline is a pretty good album, but I was hoping for something completely new from Janet. Instead, what we get is an album where Janet takes her own sound and really hones it. It's confirmation that Janet still has 'it', but it isn't the envelope pushing, career defining album I was hoping for.

Janet Jackson's 'Discipline' scores itself a 6 out of 10
Album highlights:
■ Feedback
■ Rollercoaster
■ Rock with U
■ 2nite J's fave
■ Can't B good
■ So much betta
■ The 1
■ What's ur name


  1. Nice review. I loved Discipline - I should play it more actually. Stand-outs for me were
    *Rock With You
    *Can't B Good
    *So Much Betta

  2. Damn, the very first time you reviewed this, you gave it an 8. Then you updated it to a 7, and now...a 6. LOL!

    The one song I liked at first but I really don't like now is "So Much Betta". I mean damn, she could have at least given us something new for the second verse instead of just repeating the first one.

  3. nice review:-)

    my highlights: feedback, luv,so much betta, what's ur name


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