This week, Janet Jackson‘s classic sixth studio album ‘The Velvet Rope’ turned 20 years old. Today, we take you back to 1997 as this week’s From The Vault pick is the LP’s first single ‘Got ‘Til It’s Gone.’
The first taste of Jackson in the 2 years since she wrapped her self-titled era, ‘Gone’ was a departure in style for the singer. Markedly darker, the track was produced by Jackson alongside Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis set the tone for an album that was recorded while the star was going through depression.
Despite critics around the world praising Jackson for collaborating with A Tribe Called Quest alumni Q-Tip and incorporating a sample of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ over a bass-heavy Hip-Hop beat, the single choice still seemed to confuse people who were probably used to a more colorful sound.
The tune wasn’t commercially released in the US, so wasn’t eligible to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Still it reached the 36th position of the Hot 100 Airplay and the 3rd spit of the Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Airplay tally.
Overseas, the track was welcomed with open arms, charting at #6 in the UK, #11 in France and #10 in Australia.
Mark Romanek was the main man behind the highly-acclaimed visual for the release.
Set in a time that references Apartheid, the melanin-filled video was a celebration of Black culture. It is considered a masterpiece by many and won a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. [Note: The African theme was a very important one for the whole era.]
Like the song, the visual was something different for Janet. Indeed, she didn’t rely on high-octane choreography nor the glamorous shots she was known for at the time. Instead she is seen throughout the clip sporting a natural look. And even then the focus isn’t even on her much. Thus making the message she’s conveying – both with the song and video- even clearer.
‘The Velvet Rope’ is such an important part of music history and we’re glad it’s being celebrated two decades on. We feel it’s important the younger generation understands that it is one of the biggest inspirations behind some of their faves’ best work. From Beyonce, Rihanna, Solange and Kelly Rowland, to Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean among many many others, they all have studied this album that intertwined the music, the visuals and the staging like never before.
A round of applause for this disruptive, genre-defining, trailblazing work of art!