At 50 years old, Janet Jackson is seemingly at peace. After releasing her seventh number one album in 2015, Janet is expecting her first child with husband Wissam Al Mana.
This is also the second year that she is eligible for the coveted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was snubbed last year as the Hall of Fame opted not to induct a single woman into the illustrious club. But if there ever were a rock star who deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s Janet Jackson.
Since Super Bowl 2004 also known as ‘Nipplegate’, people have tried their hardest to erase the legacy of Janet ‘Damita Jo’ Jackson.
Viacom, parent company of CBS and MTV blacklisted Janet and kept her music and videos from all of their media properties. She was absent from this year’s Super Bowl look at performers past. We watched at Justin Timberlake leave her in the dust to fight the controversy on her own while his career never missed a beat.
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Although we (read Black folks) never left her side, sponsors, corporations and critics alike turned their back on Janet and it has affected her career ever since.
America watched Janet grow up before its eyes. From her first appearance on The Carol Burnett Show to Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes, Janet was destined for stardom superstardom. When she finally took control of her career, she shook up the music world.
At the core of Janet Jackson is the music. She released two albums before discovering the rare magic that existed with her and funk duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Their musical chemistry was explosive. It launched dozens of hits and created the sound of a generation.
Janet’s music evolved from industrial pop on Control to pure R&B in Janet and grown ass woman for the Velvet Rope.
Janet’s metamorphosis from actress to pop star back to actress was seamless. Starring in films like Poetic Justice, Nutty Professor II and Why Did I Get Married? reminded fans that Janet remained a force to be reckoned with. Her 30-year career can only be rivaled with greats like Michael, Prince and Barbara Streisand.
So why wasn’t Janet inducted last year?
The truth is there’s always much controversy surrounding pop and hip hop artists at the Rock Hall of Fame. Musicians who play instruments have often complained that singers and rappers shouldn’t be considered because they don’t make traditional rock music. But the initial classes of the rock hall of fame were as diverse as the nominees today. Aretha Franklin, The Supremes and The Temptations were all early Rock and Roll honorees who neither consistently wrote their own music or played instruments.
When Janet’s peer Madonna was inducted in 2008, critic Michael Ventre said “By including Madonna, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Miles Davis, among others, it appears clear the Hall is clamoring for attention rather than paying homage to a rich and specific musical heritage.”
Last year’s induction of NWA sparked fury from KISS front man Gene Simmons who not only said he looked forward to the death of rap but that until rock groups entered the rap hall of fame, he didn’t agree with the induction of rap artists into the Hall of Fame.
Janet Jackson is a rock star.
Her concerts rival anything Bruce Springsteen or your favorite bands could even attempt to try. Janet’s tours have consistently been 2 hours of pyrotechnics, heart pounding choreography and raunchy moments enough to make anyone blush. Who else influenced a generation of pop stars and R&B singers like Janet? Everyone artist from Britney Spears to Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé have cited her as an influence.
With over $100 million records sold, five Grammy Awards and numerous accolades to date, frankly the Hall of Fame is already behind schedule in honoring Janet. MTV called her an ICON in 2001 (before turning its back on her after Super Bowl 2004) and BET honored her with the Ultimate Icon award in 2015. With the release of her 11th album Unbreakable, she became only the third artist to have a number one album in each of the last four decades.
When she performed at ESSENCE Fest in 2010, it was one of the most talked about performances that year. She dazzled audiences for more than 2 hours performing hit after hit.
Janet’s legacy is cemented in history. Not only does Janet deserve to be entered into the Hall of Fame but it is only right to have Beyoncé induct her. There isn’t another artist more influenced by the legacy of Janet and Michael Jackson than the Queen Bey herself.
I have often said there were only two things I ever wanted to be growing up: a writer and Janet Jackson.
I’ve attempted to learn every move of hers since I can remember. Before I was devouring every book I could find, I was dancing in front of the TV to her videos.
I may never be Janet Jackson but I’ll make sure to defend her legacy as long as I live.
Editors Note: Winners for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be announced in December.