Happy 20th Anniversary to ‘janet.’

Like a moth to a flame/Burned by the fire/My love is blind/Can’t you see my desire?/That’s the way love goes. ~ Janet Jackson, “That’s The Way Love Goes,” janet. (1993)

May 18, 2013 marked 20 years since the release of Janet Jackson’s fifth studio album, janet.  janet. was a departure in sound and style when compared to Control (1986) and Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989).  The album unveiled a different side of Jackson—her sensual side.  Songs from her aforementioned efforts like “Funny How Times Flies (When You’re Having Fun)” and “Someday Is Tonight” provided mere glimpses of what would later be uncovered with janet.  

janet. stands as a declaration of Jackson taking even greater control of the direction of her music and career, composing and co-producing (with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) the majority of the music on the album.  If it wasn’t clear before, janet. proved Jackson to be a distinctive, innovative, and monumental force that had come out quite far from the shadow of her family’s fame.  With the removal of her last name, she (continued) to command respect on her own merits.  At the time of the album’s release, Jackson was well on her way to carving her own niche—one that continues to inspire and influence fans and artists alike to this very day.

Jackson’s albums are musical snapshots of specific periods in her life.  janet. represents Jackson’s exploration of her softer, sensual side and the confidence which comes from embracing all facets of ourselves and honoring who we truly are (inside and out).  It’s genuine.  It’s real.  It doesn’t comes off as contrived or pretentious.  You feel Ms. Jackson opening up in ways never heard before (“Anytime, Anyplace,” “The Body That Loves You,” “If,” “You Want This,” and “Throb”).  Aside from sensuality and intimacy, janet. delved deeply into relationships, the ups and downs of love (“Because Of Love,” “Where Are You Now,” “Again,” and “This Time” featuring Kathleen Battle), and the impact of racism and sexism (“New Agenda” featuring Chuck D of Public Enemy).  

Vocally, Jackson delivered some of her most confident, sweet, sexy, and soulful vocals yet.  The songs, expertly paced, run the gamut from R&B/Soul, Funk, Pop, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Opera, and Rock.  janet. is an album that you can play straight through, uninterrupted.  Even at 75+ minutes, it never gets tiring or boring.  After 20 years, it’s safe to say janet. has aged quite well.   

Jackson, Jam, and Lewis easily produced one of the best and most eclectic albums of the 90s (or ever in my book).  janet. has sold over 7 millions copies in the States and over 20 million copies worldwide.  It remains one of her best-selling albums and one of the best selling R&B albums of the SoundScan era.  The album produced 6 Top Ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles charts, “That’s The Way Love Goes” (#1 Pop/#1 R&B), “If” (#4 Pop/#3 R&B), “Again” (#1 Pop/#7 R&B), “Because Of Love” (#10 Pop/#9 R&B), “Anytime, Anyplace” (#2 Pop/#1 R&B), and “You Want This” (#8 Pop/#9 R&B).  

Musically, thematically, and visually, janet. took Jackson to even greater creative heights and laid the blueprint that many artists would follow soon after.  (Jackson would blow critics, fans, and artists minds alike again in 1997 with the release of The Velvet Rope).
  
Happy 20th anniversary to janet.  We thank you (again), Ms. Jackson, for this masterpiece.

Related Posts:
80’s Albums That Changed My Life
Day 48: Black Music Month – Janet Jackson 
All 4 Janet.

Celebrate Love Every Day (A Valentine’s Day Post)

Love is everlasting.  Love endures.  It doesn’t come with conditions.  Has no qualms.  Love is free.  Love is freeing.  Love is freedom.

Love is welcoming.  It doesn’t discriminate.  Bears no hatred.  With it, everyone has a chance because equality is love’s best friend.

Love is beautiful.  Comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes.  Its range is limitless.  Its impact is eternal.  Love is boundless.

Love is confidence.  Love is faith.  Love is the feeling that everything will be okay even when things go wrong.  Love is harmonious.

Love is universal.  No one needs qualifications or requirements.  There’s no battery of tests, obstacle or endurance courses necessary.  With love, everyone makes the grade. 

Love is not a fad, trend, or seasonal occurrence.  It’s not something that should be celebrated only one day out of the year.  When it’s real it’s an everyday thing.  Love is a yearlong, lifelong celebration.  If we love ourselvescelebrate it every day.  If we love otherscelebrate it every day.  If we have people in our lives that love uscelebrate it every day.  If we give love—celebrate it every day.  If we receive love—celebrate it every day.  If we make love—celebrate it every day.

Love.  Every day.  Love every day.  Celebrate love every day!

Universal Love

You preserved your heart
The way a doctor would to save a patient’s life,
So that it would be mineeternally.
It’s an out-of-this-world union
That will sparkle and shine long after we’ve gone.
Destined for its own place in the universe,
It’s totally divine.
We are lovers
In spirit, body, soul, heart, and mind.

© BuddahDesmond

Love Real and True

Somewhere along the way I found love.

But it didn’t happen the way I thought it would.
It was quite different from my dreams—
Wasn’t always so nice and pretty.
It was quite different from my fantasies—
Was sometimes better than I could ever imagine.
Was not always what I expected.
In love, if you just have to have expectations—
     expect the unexpected.

In my experiences with love and relationships,
I realized—
That love doesn’t always happen or arrive the way
     you want it to
     Or the way you dreamed it to.
Love comes in the way you need it most.
And you may not realize it,
You’re often blind to this mystical, magical thing.
And maybe that’s why I was afraid.
Maybe that’s why I was scared and ran away—
Because it didn’t come in the “right” package,
Because it didn’t meet all of my requirements
     On “the list”.

But once you get past want and arrive at need—
It’s like a new world.
You feel complete.
You are fulfilled in ways never known before.
You desire nothing more,
Because you got a love that’s real and true.

© BuddahDesmond

101 Days Project: Anecdotes & Inspirational Writing

When working on the 101 Days Project, there were several periods where I was not churning out poetry and prose the way I normally would.  If remembering correctly, there were times when I wasn’t writing creatively at all.  But that soon changed one day while on my way home from work on the train.  The muse returned and the words started coming to me in the form of anecdotes.  These writings, many of them brief, were about everything from communication and relationships to self-esteem/self-love and spirituality.  Check out some of my favorites:

  1. Day 33: Loving Yourself
  2. Day 28: Getting Beyond Blame
  3. Day 89: Many Ways to Get to the Ultimate Destination
  4. Day 97: Making Dreams Happen
  5. Day 25: Fear
  6. Day 23: Faith & Determination
  7. Day 41: Apologies
  8. Day 30: Obligation & Convenience in Relationships
  9. Day 34: Communication
  10. Day 37: Love & Bills

Day 94: The Ultimate

Your tongue dances all over my body.
Your kisses walk upon my face.
Your hands swim into my skin.
Your valley is my playground,
once I enter I never want to leave.
Your love saved the stomach of my heart from being
     love-starved.
Your mind nourishes my mind.
Your body is the sculpture of my passion.
Your are the essence of perfect love,
And I am your reciprocal makeup.
We are two rivers,
Connected by a stream of love.
We flow into each other
Sharing, giving, transporting, and providing nutrients,
     nurture, and nourishment.
The ultimate is this existence of love.
© BuddahDesmond

Day 93: RIP Chris Lighty

Image courtesy of the BrooklynVegan site.
‘”I am utterly, utterly devastated…It feels unfair to us. He was our wealth. Chris was like the fruition of all that could be. He was loved.”‘ ~ Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist (NY Daily News, 2012)
When I first started seeing tweets on Thursday that Hip-Hop mogul Chris Lighty had passed, I couldn’t believe it.  I immediately started doing some research to see if these claims were true.  Eventually, site after site confirmed that he had in fact died.  Suddenly it seemed as if my day was at a standstill.  I couldn’t do anything.  His passing saddened me so.  Lighty was, at only 44, yet another pivotal figure gone too soon.

Lighty, CEO and co-founder of Violator Management/Brand Assets Group, was a fixture in the world of Hip-Hop since the late 80s.  It was impossible to experience anything in Hip-Hop without feeling Lighty’s impact.  He truly was one of the last great power moguls in the entertainment industry.  Lighty began his career carrying records for Kool DJ Red Alert and acting as a party enforcer for the DJ and their Violators crew (The Grio, 2012).  Also a DJ, Lighty was known as “Baby Chris.”  He went on to become a respected manager, managing the careers of several Native Tongues acts, including the groundbreaking, influential groups De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.

Lighty credited his time working in several executive positions under Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen at Def Jam and Rush Artist Management as being pivotal to him becoming an entrepreneur.  Under their tutelage, Lighty, in a 2011 Black Enterprise article, said,
‘”I learned you are only as strong as the people around you,” he says. “You’ve got to build a good team–from your accountant to your right-hand man to employees–the whole nine yards,” he says. “I also learned you can have a plan [for what you want your business to look like], but you need to know when to deviate from it. You have to be able to bend and sway with the moment…“‘ 
And it’s clear that the he applied (and expounded upon) what he learned from his experiences when establishing his own business, Violator Management/Brand Assets Group, with co-founder Mona Scott.  Lighty was a highly lauded and favored, achieving stellar success managing the careers of artists such as LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown, Mariah Carey, Diddy, and 50 Cent.  Lighty was also praised for brokering multi-million dollar endorsement deals for his artists, most notably for LL Cool J and 50 Cent.

Lighty, in a 2011 Black Enterprise article, said one of the keys to success in the entertainment industry is diversification.  
‘”From my point of view you have to be a multi-tasker and know every aspect of the entertainment business,” says Lighty, whose marketing firm has inked deals with Adidas, Coca Cola, Sprite, Reebok and Motions Hair products and others. “Back in the day you could get away with focusing on one thing, like A&R. Now whether its digital, marketing, A & R, radio, whatever–you have to know how to get your artist from A to Z, even if you need help pulling it all off.”‘
Other important keys to his success, as highlighted in 2011 by Black Enterprise, were 1) thinking outside of the box, 2) consistent common courtesy, 3) always adapting to your environment, 4) believing in your business or failing in your business, and 5) using persistence to overcome resistance. 

Lighty was respected, admired, and loved by so many, within and outside of the entertainment industry.  The outpouring of love on Twitter was more than enough to signify this.  Devastating already, the news that his death was a suicide made the impact, I’m sure, even more so affecting.  You never know what a person is truly going through, especially when it appears from the outside that everything is cool.  News reports state he was having financial woes, and that he’d gotten into a spat with his estranged wife over the phone just before taking his life (NY Daily News, 2012).  We may never know or understand the full extent of what Lighty was going through, but sadly—he was troubled. 

With Lighty’s untimely death, I hope our community takes it upon itself to say enough is enough.  It perplexes me why mental health remains such a taboo subject in our community.  So many of us are suffering in silence.  There’s no need for it.  It must stop.  If we have to look beyond ourselves to get the help we need, so be it.  Prayer is not always enough.  Ignoring and suppressing our issues is not cutting it.  Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and other addictions—thinking it will make everything better—is no way to win the battle.  Sometimes we need an intervention from trained professionals in the form of counseling, therapy, and/or medication.  As someone who’s battled with depression, I know.  We must not be afraid to speak on our issues and get the help we need.  There’s always support available.  We have to take better care of ourselves.  Good mental and emotional health is critical to sustaining our overall well-being.  We have to prevail.

My condolences to Chris Lighty’s family and friends.  As writer Danyel Smith said in a recent NPR story,

“Chris Lighty made history. He helped make hip-hop. He was a success story. He was a sweet and brilliant man. But there will be no more knowing of him — the complexities, the simple s—-, nothing. The man in the liner notes, the kid backstage, the dude counting the show money, the father with his children. It’s beyond tragic. Everybody’s Baby Chris is gone.”

We’ll miss you Baby Chris.  Rest in peace.

Day 92: The Kitchen, My Other Home

One of my favorite things to bake – Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Aside from the stage, studio, and classroom, the kitchen is my home.  I’ve been in the kitchen since I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Learned so many things from my mother and grandmother in the kitchen (still learning).  I’m so glad I received this gift.  I come from a long line of gifted cooks/bakers, especially on my mother’s side of the family.  Good food (and drink) has been just as much a centerpiece of family gatherings as the communion and the entertainment (mostly us acting crazy and talking cash shit—doing what we do best, in other words…lol).  There’s nothing wrong with loving good food, especially if you’re blessed enough to make it, share it, and enjoy it!  
One of the things I’ve learned over the years with cooking/baking is that food truly tastes good when you’ve put your heart and soul into it.  The love emanates through the food and touches the spirit.  This is why people enjoy it so much, and why we find some eating with their eyes closed (totally enraptured with the taste, how it makes them feel, and memories it conjures up).  The best advice:  if you’re not feeling it—step away from the stove!  Put the utensils down and the pots and pans away!  Get out of the kitchen and call for takeout/delivery!  Because the food will tell the story.  I apply this to many of my creative gifts and talents.  I have to feel it.  I have to be able to get into to it.  I can’t do it just for the sake of doing it.  If I’m not feeling it, I can’t do it.  It’s that simple.  
So let me get back on schedule.  I have a Honey Cornbread, Orange Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Baked Yams, Buddah’s Teriyaki Pork Chops with Apples, Onions, & Peppers, and Spinach to make. Happy cooking, baking, and eating! Enjoy!

Day 90: Kindred The Family Soul – Sticking With You

For the last 10 years, Kindred The Family Soul has been making heartfelt, soulful music.  Their music touches the core, speaking frankly, openly, and honestly about life, love, and relationships. Often compared to Ashford & Simpson, Kindred The Family Soul write songs that get down to the heart of the matter in an accessible way.  Their most recent album, Love Has No Recession, continues in this vein.  But aside from their signature love songs, Love Has No Recession, has some poignant tunes about the social and political ills of the day.  Overall, it’s a solid album which conceptually, musically, lyrically, and vocally makes it timeless.  Check out one of the singles from the album, “Sticking With You,” which is a sweet confession of true love and devotion.

Day 83: Can’t Make You Try

You can’t even give a little bit.
You won’t even try.
You fail to do anything that you think is going to challenge your ego.
You’re afraid of compromise for fear of losing yourself.
God forbid you should ever have to change.
But compromise is the key to keeping the scales in relationships balanced.
You can’t be the tyrannical controller and think you won’t get checked,
or think that I’m just supposed to go along with it.

You shouldn’t have to brand yourself differently to make our relationship work.
We have to accept each other as we are;
Else, our problems are much larger than we both can see.
I’m willing to make it work,

But if you aren’t—there’s nothing I can do to make you save our union.
It’s better to be selfish when you’re alone.
And we both know we can do better than that.

So if by now you haven’t changed your mind,
then consider these parting words:
Can’t deny I won’t be sad,
but I’ll get over it; 
and you will too.
I’ll just wish you well
And I sincerely hope and pray that you find whatever you’ve been looking for
Cause it obviously isn’t with me.