Top 5: Janet Jackson’s “Damita Jo”

Vincent Anthony
5 Min Read

On March 30, 2004, Janet Jackson released “Damita Jo,” her eighth studio album. Plagued by backlash and blacklisting following her infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, one of Ms. Jackson’s best albums was overlooked and remains severely underrated. Featuring gems like the soulful lead single “I Want You” and dance floor banger “All Nite,” the album is beloved by her devoted fanbase, the #JanFam.

“Damita Jo” showcased Jackson’s resilience as an artist. No matter how the landscape of pop music morphed, she was able to carve out a sonic space for herself. In 2004, R&B and Hip-Hop dominated the charts like never before. Producers like Dallas Austin, Rich Harrison, and Kanye West dominated the charts by producing hits for younger pop stars, all of whom Jackson had inspired. On “Damita Jo,” Jackson brought in a wide array of producers to work alongside the tried and true trio of herself, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis. It made for an album that sounded refreshing, yet still classic Janet.

We’ll be exploring the album in further detail in Issue 2 of THE 97 ZINE out this summer. We’re still ironing out the details, with the formal announcement and preorder coming in May, but you can subscribe now to receive Issue 1 starring @MariahCarey’s “Me. I Am Mariah…” album, as well as Issue 2 starring “Damita Jo” and Issue 3 starring “Destiny Fulfilled” by Destiny’s Child. If you’d like to pitch an essay for the zine, email [email protected].

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Until then, check out my top 5 songs from “Damita Jo.” Each track I selected represents one of the five prevailing moods on the album.

Damita Jo: My Top 5

5. “Damita Jo”

The ever-innovative Ms. Jackson was ahead of time with this succinct track, clocking in at just under 3 minutes long. Some may consider the track as a sort of second intro song for the album, and thematically, it is, but it’s a fully fleshed out track … and a complete banger. With quips like “A little lady, a whole lotta class, but do me wrong and I’ll get in that ass,” how can you not get your entire life? This track represents the more playfully revealing, “behind the velvet rope” sort of vibe of several other songs on the album, like “My Baby,” “Thinkin’ Bout My Ex,” “Truly” and the poetic interludes.

4. “All Nite (Don’t Stop)”

This club-ready jam deserved to be a smash hit. Effortlessly showing us why she, and not Madonna, is Britney Spears’ true pop mother, “All Nite” proved that Ms. Jackson was still ready and able to hang with the young girls. Unfortunately, the powers that be made that impossible. “All Nite” represents the album’s more contemporary dance-pop sound, also found on “Strawberry Bounce,” “SloLove” and the elusive “Love Me” remix of “Just a Little While.”

3. “Like You Don’t Love Me”

Perhaps her most unabashed album to date when it comes to sexually-explicit lyrical content, “Like You Don’t Love Me” is my favorite of the hyper-sexual tracks on “Damita Jo.” It’s a high-energy bop that’s filled with confidence and swag. “Sexhibition” also does this well, as does “Strawberry Bounce.” There’s also the pair of bedroom (or, rather, backseat) ballads, “Moist” and “Warmth” if you need an oral instructional manual.

2. “R&B Junkie”

This battles for #1 in my book, and for a long time, it was. The throwback fun of “R&B Junkie” is irresistible and infectious, and a highlight of the album. Atop the funky Evelyn King sample, the song is impossible to skip. “Junkie,” as well as lead single “I Want You” and bonus track “Could This Be Love?” perfectly play with this soulful, R&B vibe. “R&B Junkie” is the album’s best uptempo, for sure.

1. “Spending Time With You”

If the album’s interludes are any indication, Jackson must’ve spent a lot of time in the Caribbean while recording “Damita Jo.” This groovy jam encapsulates the breezy beach vibe echoed on other tracks, like “Island Life” and bonus track “I’m Here.” While perhaps best known for her danceable uptempo tracks, Jackson’s slow jams are severely underrated. Filled with intricately layered background vocals and soulful leads, “Spending Time With You” is the perfect example of that aspect of Jackson’s artistry overall, and the sensual, slower side of “Damita Jo.”

Listen to Janet Jackson’s “Damita Jo”

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Vincent is the founder of the magazine and has had a strong passion for popular music since, well, 1997! If it's not obvious, his favorite artists include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, P!nk, and many more. Vincent lives in New York, where he is a high school English teacher, and currently he is pursuing a Master's in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.