B. Cox takes a look at R&B and pop icon Janet Jackson's sixth studio album The Velvet Rope, as it turns 25. On the heels of negotiating and signing the biggest record label contract in history and her successful album tour from her fifth album Janet, the superstar suffered a nervous breakdown. Plagued depression driven by childhood issues, body dysmorphia, eating disorders and troubles in her not-yet-public marriage, she took time to regroup and decided to open up her very private life and explore this issues on record.
Working with longtime collaborators, the production duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, she wrote the album with her then-husband Rene Elizondo. Within the 22 tracks, she explored issues such as same sex relationships, self doubt, accountability, domestic violence, AIDS, LGBTQ issues, loneliness, despair and redemption. While not initially embraced by the critics, the album was a boom commercially, being certified triple platinum and selling over 8 million copies worldwide. Two of its singles, "Together Again" and "I Get Lonely" placed within the Billboard Top 100 Top 5 with "Together" reaching the No. 1 spot for two weeks.
Since its release, critics and fans alike praised Jackson for her transparency, vulnerability and strength in addressing such hot issues, while also lauding the production and lyrics. The album has been called everything from her magnum opus to one of the most important musical works on the 1990s -- regardless of genre.
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