TGJ Replay: Janet Jackson – ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’

Published: Thursday 18th Sep 2014 by Rashad
rhythm nation-janet jackson-thatgrapejuice

After a lengthy break on the bench, ‘TGJ Replay’ is back!

Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest retrospective segment – a written quest, if you will, to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday.

Unlike its ‘Rewind’ and ‘Vault’ predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.  As this week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of ‘Rhythm Nation’ – the now legendary fourth album from pop superstar Janet Jackson, we are set to deliver our biggest ‘Replay’ yet in homage to the Queen.

It all awaits below:


Yes, we read  you brag about the stats of your faves on a daily basis.  But, if you want to talk stats, let’s talk the yet-outranked stats attributed Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ album and accompanying era.

In a nutshell:

  • First album in history to achieve 7 top 5 singles
  • First and only album to score #1 singles over three different calendar years
  • Tied for 2nd place of ‘most #1 singles from one album’ – a feat shared by Paula Abdul
  • ‘Rhythm Nation’ tour still ranks as the most successful debut world tour (a feat challenged by Lady Gaga)
  • On the hems of ‘Rhythm Nation,’ Janet Jackson became the first woman in Grammy history to be nominated for ‘Producer of the Year’
  • First artist to have a #1 hit on ‘Mainstream Rock’ chart and ‘Billboard Hot 100’ simultaneously with ‘Black Cat’

The aforementioned only tip the iceberg of the accolades and recognition afforded to ‘Rhythm Nation’ – an album considered by critics across the board to be one of the greatest ever produced.  Birthed from 1989 studio sessions with Jackson and her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the album – much like its predecessor ‘Control’ – was designed to be a statement piece.  Unlike ‘Control,’ ‘Rhythm’s statement was more of an extrospective examination of the ‘state of the world’ (all pun intended).  Much to the group’s chagrin, the success of ‘Control,’ however, prompted pressure from the label to deliver an album with a similar sonic formula.  Jackson, on the other hand, had other plans.

In a world where the time’s leading pop stars –  Madonna, Whitney Houston, former choreographer Paula Abdul, and even her brother, Michael Jackson, were more fixated on making the world dance, Janet opted to take a risky move and create a socially conscious body of work.  Filled with a melting pot of sounds from new jack swing to R&B, pop, and rock, the feat would prove itself even more of a challenge as the then 23 year old continued to try to remove herself from the shadow of her wildly successful, yet controversial older brother.

Interestingly, borrowing a page from her older brother, Jackson introduced the concept album with a short film.  Comprised of three music videos – ‘Miss You Much,’ ‘The Knowledge,’ and title track ‘Rhythm Nation,’ the film’s black-and-white theme were reportedly used to demonstrate ‘racial harmony.’  Chock-full of high octane dance moves delivered with military precision, the films would not only launch her most successful era to date – but take the music world by storm and become the year’s top seller.

While ‘Miss You Much’ skyrocketed to #1 on the Hot 100 (her third best performing single there to date), ‘Rhythm Nation’ marched to #2 alongside a music video still influencing today’s crop of female stars.

Opting to take a lighter approach for succeeding singles, Jackson entered 1990 by tapping fan favorites ‘Escapade’ and ‘Alright’ to follow the mega successes of ‘Miss You Much’ and ‘Rhythm Nation.’  The move would prove itself lucrative.  Accompanied by music videos with cinematic quality rivaled only by her brother Michael, Janet would exceed and set the mark for female videos to follow.

Landing her two more top 5 singles (with ‘Escapade’ peaking at #1), it was becoming more and more evident that she was the new face of female pop music.

With four heavy dance-laden tracks to kick off the album, Jan sought to display the project’s sonic versatility with the follow-up singles ‘Come Back To Me’ and ‘Black Cat.’  The former, a heart-wrenching R&B slow jam decorated in an innocence all but mastered by the youngest Jackson, the latter would be just the opposite – an angry, guitar drenched number reminding listeners of the attitude oft-referenced in the “Miss Jackson if you nasty” days of ‘Control.’

‘Come Back To Me’ may have been blocked from the #1 spot by Mariah Carey‘s ‘Vision of Love’ during its tenure on the charts, but ‘Cat’ would claw its way to the tally’s perch and the history books.  The rise gave her the 3rd #1 single and 6th consecutive top 5 single from one album. In addition, it became the first song in history to top the ‘Mainstream Rock’ and ‘Hot 100’ charts simultaneously – an all the more impressive feat for an African American female artist.


By fall 1990, the stats that accompanied ‘Rhythm Nation’ seemed almost insurmountable.  In true Jackson fashion, however, she opted to continue to push the envelope by using the platform of music video as a way to segue into her next era.  With the now classic ‘Love Will Never Do Without You’ visual, Janet shed her all black-clad/key earring wearing/cookie cutter image by unveiling a svelte physique with bare midriff to boot.

The move – yet again – would prove itself devoid of misstep.  Giving the album its last #1, the feat would cement Jackson in history books as the first and only artist to have a #1 single in three different calendar years from one album.


As if recollecting chart stats was not exhausting enough, it might take help from TGJ staff in its entirety to recount accolades.

In a nutshell:

  • 1 Grammy
  • 2 MTV Video Music Awards
  • 4+ American Music Awards
  • 7+ Billboard Music Awards
  • A number of other industry awards, accolades

To date, ‘Rhythm Nation’ remains cited as Janet’s quintessential, must hear album.  The era would prove itself without flaw and set ablaze a path of inspiration for female artists to come including Beyonce, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, and many more.  On any given day, it’s not a thing for you to hear ‘Come Back To Me,’ ‘Love Will Never Do Without You,’ or ‘Lonely’ blasting from speakers here at TGJ HQ.

Now, we will charge you with the task of answering:

Your thoughts?

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  1. Rach September 18, 2014

    hmm who is this? Ive never heard of her she related to the KING Michael Jackson?

    • Missy September 18, 2014

      EITHER YOUR STUPID OR DUMB: probably both. JANET started the beyonce trend; her tours were EPIC showcases. The energy was explosive. The songs were s*** and groundbreaking. LEGEND LEGEND LEGEND; know as the black Madonna but a better dancer. JANET is an ICON and all these girls adore her and do they should

      • Rach September 18, 2014

        I’ve only heard one song from her… together again.. i think its called, i like it. All i know about her is that her t*tty popped out at the Super Bowl and she’s Michaels sister…

  2. BionicGlam September 18, 2014

    Yesterday I saw someone say Good Girl Gone Bad is the Control of this generation. I am still laughing today.

    • Missy September 18, 2014

      JANET is the ICON and she and Madonna should be mentioned in the same sentence as these new crop of girls.

    • Mark111 September 18, 2014

      I said that and I stand by it. Both artist previous two albums weren’t very successful and the 3rd album made them icons in pop music. Both merged the R&B, Pop and dance genres and set the tone for the following years for other artist.

    • ~The Arcade~ September 19, 2014

      @BionicGlam, Now that’s just disrespectful to Miss Jackson.

  3. B**** I Can’t Even Spell Welfare September 18, 2014

    Undeniable CLASSIC!

    Folks, THIS is what we mean when we say something is a classic.

    • ChanteWantsMore September 18, 2014

      I can’t think one classic album other than 21 to have come out in Pop in the last decade. The only other one is Back to Black.

      • B**** I Can’t Even Spell Welfare September 18, 2014

        You are absolutely right about “Back To Black.” Stunning album!

      • JOHNVIDAL September 19, 2014

        There are probably a few more than just those two, but yeah, not many in the last years. Proof of mainstream music downfall.

  4. BeyBeyKing September 18, 2014

    The political message on this album is still relevant to this day 2bh. I wish Beyonce would take more risks and speak about issues that interest in her songs cos at the moment all she’s ever given us is s**, heartbreak, superficial revenge and more s**. There’s more to the world than d*** sis.

    • Robin’sThicke September 18, 2014

      Beyonce doesn’t have much of a world view because she’s been so sheltered. Janet was the same but worked with people who had a wealth of experiences they could pull from when they wrote for her which is why she’s always been so good about talking about social issues. Beyonce only talks about serious issues on a surface level, like she’ll talk about feminism but ONLY the parts that relate to s**. Nothing about economic power, nothing about birth control, nothing about education, only s** and how her being a woman affects her relationships with men.

      • FAF September 18, 2014

        Well today music doesn’t sell as well so Beyonce wants success

        Janet carved her own lane

  5. There once was a pimp and his h**…. September 18, 2014

    Now that’s what you call slaying.The rhythm nation era is iconic as it is legendary.

  6. LB September 18, 2014

    Sam, give Rashad a raise; this is a well researched, well presented, well articulated piece, well done.

    Imma grab a cup of coffee, sit down a minute and enjoy this piece once more, this is very good. More of this please.

    To answer you’re question, my favorite song from Rhythm Nation is “escapade”.

    • DMoney September 18, 2014

      Here here! Rashad is amazing.

      • LB September 18, 2014

        I agree

    • LB September 18, 2014


  7. J Creweup September 18, 2014

    Thank you TGJ for profiling this landmark of an album. Brilliant/Iconic/Legendary.

    The Atlantic also did a wonderful write up about this album: “The Nation That Janet Jackson built.”

    She has made a significant impact with her work.

  8. Stephy September 18, 2014

    Yas Gawd! Now, THIS is a post worth clicking on. This album is legendary. She slayed. Every video, performance & song was perfect. To bad, EUROPE did not give this woman a chance.

    Even tho she did score many top 10 hits in the UK (which is basically like US). It still does not take away the fact that Europe completely ignored Janet. I guarantee, that if that certain WHITE WOMAN did this album. It would’ve sold 40,000,000+ & been deemed her best album to date. Anyways, Janet Jackson gave us 5 perfect era’s.

    Not many pop stars did that. And, don’t get me started on the so called “artist” these days. Also, LovelyBird is RIGHT! Please, give Rashad a RAISE for this post. And, let RASHAD do more writing. Cause Chile…

  9. Raj September 18, 2014

    The Empress of Music!! All female entertainers of today has taken and learned from this album! This album has changed lives! This album is still relevant till this day and what is going on in this world now! Can we say ahead of her time? People can try to talk down to her and hate, but at the end of the day there will NEVER be another JANET JACKSON! She path the way for all your faves and people need to respect that. Without Janet there wouldn’t been no Beyonce, J. Lo, Britney, Aaliyah, Rihanna, etc… They all looked up to her.

  10. Florida Evans September 18, 2014

    This album is 25 years old and still packs an emotional, musical, lyrical, and visual punch. Janet’s art has lived.

    When looking at the current musical landscape, we have to wonder whose art will live like Janet’s? It hard to say but one thing that I’m certain about is that Janet is a benchmark. When you think about the pinnacle of pop music, Janet is there.

    It is long overdue that we pay her the respect that she has more than earned.

  11. Stephy September 18, 2014

    OMGOD! I did not know Mariah’s “Vision Of Love” blocked “Come Back To Me”! DAMN YOU MARIAH & that Payola! Sik naw, “Vision Of Love” was actually one of MCs REAL #1’s. So, oh well. Honestly, RHYTHM NATION should have produced 6 number 1 hits & broken MJ’s record.

    Rhythm Nation
    Love Will Never Do Without You
    Miss You Much
    Come Back To Me
    Black Cat

    All those songs SCREAMED #1 hit. Legendary videos for each song. Gosh, I miss albums jammed packed with hits like this. To bad, our generation is NOT like this at all. Smh… Rihanna is probably the only pop star that delivers jammed packed hit albums nowadays. tbh…

    • JOHNVIDAL September 19, 2014

      Vision of Love is just better. One damn impacting debut. So no injustice there.

  12. Greg_N_Greed September 18, 2014

    Who would have taught Janet would have over topped RN and that whole era only by out doing herself with the following era, The “Janet” album. What a blueprint and yet ppl luv to knock her off even when she have accomplished so much and have certified receipts. The original Queen.

    • JOHNVIDAL September 19, 2014

      Yes, these true big artists used to do the impossible by outdoing their own unbelievably successful previous eras. More and bigger examples are Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion or yes, Madonna. Nobody does it now (and nobody has done it since 2000 or so). Only Adele could pull a true big artist shock by outdoing and at least kind of rivaling the success of her incredibly successful previous era. No Beyonce, no Rihanna, no Justin Timberlake, no anybody. They are not on that level.

    • Sean September 20, 2014


      Janet is the originator. She has the talent, the innovation and the receipts!

      Honestly, I have yet to see any REAL progress from the house Janet built in terms of pop/r&b albums, videos and performances. This woman set the bar (HELL she BUILT that bar with her own two hands) and everyone else, 25 years later, is still following in her wake.

      And all of this from one of the most humble, underrated performers.

      She deserves mad respect. I know she has mine!

  13. FutureCIARA September 18, 2014

    Mariah TRIED her that round…..

    But ESCAPADE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • JOHNVIDAL September 19, 2014

      Mariah surpassed her after all this, just compare careers. But it doesn´t take anything away from Janet and her incredibly successful era.

  14. King September 18, 2014

    This album is one of my favorites of all time! It’s incredible, Love Will Never Do Without You will be my first dance song at my wedding.

  15. FAF September 18, 2014

    love will Neva do!!!! Neva do without u!!!!!


    They say we wouldn’t last!!! We had to prove them wrOooong !!!

  16. PYTFROMAL September 18, 2014

    Yasss sam listing the Queens accomplishments, let em know!

  17. Marcus September 18, 2014

    Thank you for honoring Janet.

  18. Eloviano September 18, 2014

    One of the best articles I’ve rad here on grape juice in a while, honouring one of the most influential/timeless record’s in the world. Rhythm Nation 1814 was one of the records that broke down racial barriers in the late 80’s/early 90’s. #RhythmNation25 is trending on Twitter. I’m just angry this phenomenal woman is not inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite being eligible since 2007, she has never been nominated. Never mind that her brother Michael is in there. (Twice in fact, including one with the Jackson Five.)

  19. Eloviano September 18, 2014

    Speaking of phenomenal woman, I’ve just remembered the poem Maya Angelou wrote for Janet in Poetic Justice called Phenomenal Woman


    Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
    I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
    But when I start to tell them,
    They think I’m telling lies.
    I say,
    It’s in the reach of my arms
    The span of my hips,
    The stride on my step,
    The curl of my lips,
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    I walk into a room
    Just as cool as you please,
    And to a man,
    The fellows stand or
    Fall down on their knee’s.
    Then they swarm around me,
    A hive of honey bees.
    I say,
    It’s the fire of my eye’s,
    And the flash of my teeth,
    The swing in my waist,
    And the joy in my feet.
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    Men themselves have wondered
    What they see in me.
    They try so much
    But they can’t touch
    My inner mystery.
    When I try to show them
    They say they still can’t see.
    I say,
    It’s the arch of my back,
    The sun of my smile,
    The ride of my b******,
    The grace of my style.
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    Now you understand
    Just why my head’s not bowed.
    I don’t show or jump about
    Or have to talk aloud
    When you see me
    It ought to make you proud.
    I say,
    It’s the click of my heels,
    The bend of my hair,
    The palm of my hand,
    The need of my care
    Cause I’m a woman
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    • Eloviano September 18, 2014

      The ride of my B-R-E-A-S-T-S, smfh at this being censored, ya’ll just like the Super Bowl (no pun intended.)

  20. Mark111 September 18, 2014

    This album even inspired MJ to do Dangerous. I love the message in this album. That’s what music is missing today, a message.

    • Stephy September 18, 2014

      Yes, MJ was VERY inspired by this album.

  21. Chris September 18, 2014

    Funny how people try to dismiss Janet. The facts speak volumes. “Rhythm Nation” is the ONLY album to have #1 hits over 3 different calendar years. And the ONLY album ever to have 7 top 5 hits (6 of the 7 top 2). Beyoncé is lucky if she can score 3 top 5 hits per album, let alone 4 #1 hits from one album. Keep in mind it was also awarded the #1 selling album of 1990 from Billboard Magazine. #QUEEN.

    Janet scored 19 back-to-back Top 10 hits on the Hot 100. A record for a female performer. More than Beyoncé’s entire career. Janet actually has 29 in total vs. Beyonce’s 14. So if we can call Beyonce’s 14 top ten hits some massive success. What should we call Janet’s 29?!

    • Stephy September 18, 2014

      They do that cause she did not impact Europe.

      • Chris September 18, 2014

        “Together Again” is one of 15 the biggest selling singles ever for a female singer in the UK. How so?!

      • Stephy September 19, 2014

        As a whole, they still consider her to be a flop throughout Europe.

    • Sean September 20, 2014


  22. RoyalKev September 18, 2014

    This album is the best POP album every made imo.
    The production.
    The range in topics.
    The melodies.
    The artistry.
    The quality.
    The vocals.
    Absolutely Brilliant!

    • RoyalKev September 18, 2014

      *ever made

    • JOHNVIDAL September 19, 2014

      Hmm… leave the vocals out of this hun 🙂

  23. ka September 18, 2014

    The Queen shall rise again, hopefully soon and without you know who and bring back the team together to make some more classic hits!!!

  24. Beysus September 18, 2014


    • BeyRihLiyah September 18, 2014

      lmfao at will never

  25. coolness September 18, 2014

    This album is EVERYTHING! I fell in love with Janet about four years ago. I did not grow up on her but one of my cousins introduced me to her music and this was the album that made me a fan. To think that this album came out 25 years ago and is still very much relevant speaks volumes of how Janet was truly ahead of her time. Racism, problems involving children and education are still pressing issues in our world today and Miss Jackson with Jam & Lewis created a body of work that addressed these topics with stellar production and great lyrics. Everything was just right with this era. The singles slayed the charts, the videos broke new ground, her tour smashed and the awards she collected for this album alone >>>>. You can see the direct influence of this album on so many artists. From her brother, MJ to Britney and every other pop star in between, this is honestly one of the most innovative and important pop albums ever. It’s a shame not many will commemorate it though. Billboard gave a rather lazy attempt which is sad because this album is very important in Billboard charting history for all the records it set. It doesn’t matter though, those with ‘The Knowledge’ know what’s up. Janet is Queen and this album is legendary.

  26. BeyRihLiyah September 18, 2014

    the one who started it all Queen Janet p.s. rhythm nation was one of my fav videos from this era

  27. xratedforj September 19, 2014

    This is by far one of the best conceptual albums ever made. I mean from the no color lines of the white and black video imagery to the hard hitting industrial sound down to the raw edgy lyrical real life content. Its was a masterpiece before its time and she is usually ahead of the game. Hopefully she is given the love she deserves cause she laced a path for a generation.

  28. Suicide Blonde September 19, 2014

    This was a well written article, my compliments. Janet is without any doubt one of the most prominent figures in Popular Music, one of the founders and alongside a few others, the Blueprint for today’s girls. As a fan of one of her biggest rivals, i put my stan card aside, (I will ignore the subtle shades from some commentators here) i always admired her artistry, most people praise her for her dance skills (which is nothing to overlooked) but i was more impressed by her ability to envisioned Pop Music as a way to express herself, from her issues with being a Jackson to her needed to be accepted as a powerful woman in control of her career and sexuality. “Black Cat” is on my top 5 favorites Janet’s songs. “Rhythm Nation” is the definition of a Classic album, same with “janet”, “Control”, “The Velvet Rope” and i even included there “All for You”, she’s just a great entertainer.

  29. MariahIsMusic1 September 19, 2014

    Britney Spears, JT, Usher, Ciara, Rihanna even Beyoncé I can see Janet Influence on all of them. This is why this woman will always be one of the most influential artistic female entertainer ever. Back to this album. This is more than a Pop album its a movement a revolution. Thank You Miss J Jackson 🙂

  30. Sandra October 24, 2014

    Janet was clearly inspired by Michael for this album. The social awareness themes have all been done before by Michael for example in Man In the mirror, Beat It, Another part of me, We are the world, and more. So for Janet fans to act like Michael was inspired by Janet is laughable when Michael sang about these matters before Janet did.

    • what? October 24, 2014

      You’re an idiot. Man in the Mirror and this album aren’t
      alike and neither is Beat It! Janet said that she got the
      idea from Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, but
      decided to make the songs dance numbers!!!
      Rhythm Nation inspired Dangerous, smh… I swear,
      you dumb, deluded MJ fans hate to see someone else in the
      Jackson family get acknowledged for something
      that they created, NOT Michael. Not only that, you do
      it by spewing ignorance.

  31. what? October 24, 2014

    What kind of idiot are you? On what album was MJ
    socially aware before Dangerous? he didn’t!!!
    Rhythm Nation was before Dangerous and producers (i.e.
    Rodney Jerkins) have said that Michael listened to
    Rhythm Nation while making Dangerous! Get your facts

  32. Vincent Bernard September 19, 2019

    And now here we are celebrating 30 years of this monumental classic that changed the game!!

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