“Damita Jo” unleashes inner vixen

With artists taking on alternative identities like Eminem’s “Slim Shady” and the retired Jay-Z as “Hova”, the formula for success seems to be in the alter ego. Music veteran Janet Jackson, who emerged 18 years ago, has followed suit with her newly released eighth project, “Damita Jo.”

“Damita Jo”, Jackson’s middle name, is a voyage of love from beginning, middle, and end. The album shows growth from the infamous “Janet. Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty.” Her voice has more of an edge as well an angelic quality to it that will appeal to more of her R&B fans.

The album opens with the title track- an upbeat, feel-good song where Jackson’s voice melts over a bass-lit track.

The fourth track on the album, “Strawberry Bounce” lightly samples Jay-Z’s vocals from the hit “Can I Get A…” The song is a definite club joint. “My Baby” keeps the hot tracks flowing. The song features Kanye West spitting a few bars, adding some hip-hop flavor to Jackson’s smooth lyrics.

Although “Damita Jo” explores other artistic options, Janet did not forget to add explicit lyrical content. “All Nite (Don’t Stop)” has an upbeat tempo, but includes erotic lyrics that will put anyone in the mood.

“I Want You,” produced by Kanye West, takes listeners back to the music that put her brothers on the map. It is a breezy track reminiscent of the ’60s girl groups and doo-wop corner-singing quartets.

With an exception to “R&B Junkie” and the fast paced single “Just A Little While” the album doesn’t contain many lackluster songs. These two tracks are failed experiments for a usually well-polished Jackson.

“Damita Jo” is an excellent addition to any true music lovers’ collection. Jackson continued the tradition of working with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Yet, she has also broadened her horizons by experimenting with hot producers like Kanye West and Dallas Austin. The combination of new and old influences, along with 22 well-placed tracks, show why Jackson has had longevity in the music industry.

Although this is her eighth release, “Damita Jo’s” catchiness and creativity seem to be the beginning of what is yet to come.

Grade A

contact nyerere davidson atnyejournal@hotmail.com.