Janet Jackson Recalls Making ‘Velvet Rope’ at Reissue Party: ‘This Album Is So Close to Me’
The set was re-released earlier that day via digital retailers and streamers with additional bonus tracks, including 10 cuts that made their official streaming debut.
After Jackson greeted partygoers – while the DJ spun classic Jackson tracks alongside tunes such as Beyoncé’s “Heated” and Missy Elliott’s “She’s a Bitch” – Jackson took the mic to share memories of making The Velvet Rope.
“This album is so, so close to me,” Jackson shared with the crowd via Instagram Live. “It was, I would say, out of all the albums that I’ve created, and especially with Jimmy [Jam] and Terry [Lewis], it was the most difficult … the most difficult album for me to create.”
She was joined, via live video, by Jimmy Jam, who produced the album with his longtime creative partner Terry Lewis, alongside Jackson. (Lewis could not attend the event, but Jimmy Jam joked, “I brought my partner Terry Lewis,” and then held up a bobblehead figure of Lewis on camera. “He’s in bobblehead form, but he’s here.”)
The Velvet Rope debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart upon its release and launched Billboard chart hits like “Got ‘Til It’s Gone,” the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Together Again,” the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart-topper “I Get Lonely” and the Dance Club Songs No. 1 “Go Deep.”
“I was going through so much in my life,” Jackson said at the event, “and it was so deep, in trying to find and figure out who I am, where I stand. And at the end of the day, like I did with the other albums, just putting it down, never keeping a journal. I’m sure a lot of you already know this. And I didn’t know if my fans would like it.
“But one of the… I guess one of the best moments of my life connected to this album [was on] the day that it was released. I was on the 405 freeway, and I was in traffic, I was headed toward the Valley, coming from Malibu, and someone honked their horn. Now by then, at that time, we had CDs. [Laugher from crowd.] And this person kept honking their horn and I happened to look over, and there was a girl in the car, and she held up The Velvet Rope CD. And she smiled at me and she just nodded. It made me feel so good. That was the first person to acknowledge to me that, ‘Yeah, you did somethin’ that I really do appreciate.’ And 25 years later, it being No. 1, again?” (The album topped the U.S. Apple iTunes Store’s R&B/Soul top sellers ranking following its reissue.)
“Thank you so, so much,” Jackson continued. “I am so thankful to God, and thankful to all of you. You guys, I am so blessed. God has truly blessed me. Thank you so much for this. Thank you Jimmy and Terry for always being my two dads. Always there for me through thick, thin and the worst.”
Jimmy Jam added: “I agree that it was probably the most difficult album to do, but I knew you had a lot that you needed to get off your chest. Because normally when we did the albums, we would do the music and then you’d do lyrics for the music. But this album, you had the lyrics before we even did the music. A lot of it was , you would give us the lyrics and then we’d create the music around it. So, almost like we did it backwards. But it’s the reason why it’s so personal to you.”
Jackson responded to Jimmy, “Yeah, yeah. It was, it was, it was a tough one. And then when writing the melodies… it’s close to my heart. It’ll be the closest project that I’ve ever done to my heart.”
In closing, Jackson thanked the crowd once more, gestured to the DJ, and said, “Now can we get a drink and just dance?” The crowd roared in agreement. The next song the DJ played? “Together Again.”