Janet Jackson’s 10 Greatest Collaborations

What has she done for you lately? Um, a lot!

Oh happy day! When Janet walked (when Janet walked) back into our lives. The diva’s new single, “Made for Now,” featuring the King of Reggaetón himself, Daddy Yankee, dropped today.
 

Janet and the “Despacito” rapper filmed the video in Brooklyn last week with frequent collaborator Dave Meyers (“All for You”, “I Want You,” “Dammn Baby”).

The 52-year-old legend is known to share tracks sparingly, with most of her duets relegated to remixes, so each time she deigns to collaborate with another artist is special. How special? Let’s take a look with Janet’s 10 greatest collabs.

  1. “2300 Jackson Street” (w/ The Jacksons)

    Notable only for featuring nearly every member of the Jackson clan—perennial black sheep La Toya was on the outs with the family—”2300 Jackson Street” bridged the youngest Jackson’s first two major eras: sandwiched between Control’s final single, “Funny How Time Flies,” and Rhythm Nation’s first, “Miss You Much,” which she would release months later in August 1989. La Toya, meanwhile, would rebound with her own single in 1989, “Bad Girl” because you can’t keep a good Jackson down.

  2. “Alright” Remix (w/ Heavy D)

    Janet was one of the first mainstream pop artists to embrace hip hop when she re-recorded “Alright” with a verse from the late Heavy D. As a pioneer of New Jack Swing, it was a logical two-step for Ms. Jackson and set the stage for a number of other rap collabos in the future.

  3. “New Agenda” (w/ Chuck D)

    Janet teamed with another D, this time the Public Enemy frontman, for this socially-conscious track from 1993’s janet., though it sounds more like a holdover from Rhythm Nation, with Ms. Jackson speaking truth to power: “Because of my gender/ I’ve heard no too many times/ Because of my race/ I’ve heard no too many times/ But with every no/ I grow in strength/ That is why/ African-American woman/ I stand tall with pride.”

  4. “Son of a Gun” Remix (w/ Missy Elliott)

    Noted sisters doing it for themselves, Janet and Missy began their long friendship and professional relationship with this wig-snatch of a takedown from Janet’s post-divorce 2001 album, All for You. Missy is in particularly fine form, spitting scathing lines like, “Before I need you, I betcha gon’ need me/ You ain’t want me anyway way, you wanted to be me.” Who needs subtlety and innuendo when you can just go straight for the jugular? With a bat, no less.

  5. “Diamonds” (w/ Herb Alpert)

    Janet teamed with the legendary jazz musician for this 1987 top 5 hit, an ode to a girl’s only true best friend, which included some precious jewels—”They say you need some roses/ But roses do die/ You gave me some candy/ It melted/ Nice try”—that rivaled some of her best Control shade. You better close that door and get her some carats if you want her to respond, goddammit.

  6. “So Excited” (w/ Khia)

    Not really sure why Janet plucked Khia, best known for her 2002 ratchet masterpiece (ratchetpiece?) “My Neck, My Back” for this lowkey bop from 2006’s regrettably titled 20Y.O., but hey, if it twerks it twerks. Though the five minutes it took her to record “Act bad, don’t hurt me / Look sexy, talk dirty” did little to extend the Tampa raptress’s 15 of fame, it did at least give Janet another #1 on the dance charts—her 17th, NBD.

  7. “What’s It Gonna Be?!” (w/ Busta Rhymes)

    Ms. Jackson and Mr. Rhymes pulled out all the stops and all the catsuits for this Hype Williams-directed video, its $2 million price tag ranking it among the most expensive music videos ever made (back when labels were fine shelling out that kind of money). Janet, meanwhile, looks incredible, serving you futuristic dominatrix chic, a high ponytail that deserves its own holiday, nails that out-claw “Claws” and a train so epic it needs its own murder mystery.

  8. “The Best Things in Life Are Free” (w/ Luther Vandross; remix included Bel Biv Devoe)

    Remember Mo’ Money? Even if you were alive when it came out in 1992, it may not have left much of an impression, but at least it gave us this memorable duet between two R&B titans. Neither Vandross nor Jackson showed up for the video, however, so instead we got Damon Wayans and his Mo’ Money co-star Stacey Dash hanging out at a carnival and not being problematic AF.

  9. “Got til It’s Gone” (w/ Q-Tip & Joni Mitchell)

    Taken from her magnum opus, 1997’s The Velvet Rope, “Got til It’s Gone” was a departure for Janet. Blending elements of folk (courtesy of a sample of Joni’s “Big Yellow Taxi”), hip hop, trip hop and neo-soul, the song is an undeniable groove. And the video, depicting an apartheid-era South Africa, is among her most beautiful, and with little to no makeup, Miss Jackson has rarely looked better.

  10. “Scream” (w/ Michael Jackson)

    While “What’s It Gonna Be?!” is one of the most expensive videos ever made, the Guinness Book of World Records crowned “Scream” the most expensive, at a cost of $7 million. And who else would warrant such an extravagant clip besides the reigning royal siblings of pop? Following Michael Jackson’s excoriation by the press following allegations of child sexual abuse, Janet wanted to show her public support for her brother, and the result was “Scream”—a no-holds-barred attack on the tabloid media wrapped in a pulsating, rock-tinged soundscape fashioned by Janet’s go-to production team, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Still as visually arresting and sonically engaging as when it was released over 20 years ago, “Scream” proved a high water mark in the careers of both Jacksons, and Janet would revive it 14 years later for a tribute to her late brother at the 2009 VMAs.

 

Notable mentions:
“Burnitup!” (w/ Missy Elliott)
“Feel It Boy” (w/ Beenie Man)
“Call on Me” (w/ Nelly)
“No Sleeep” (w/ J. Cole)
“You Want This” Remix (w/ MC Lyte)
“Boyfriend/Girlfriend” (w/ Blackstreet, Ja Rule & Eve)
“Luv Me, Luv Me” (w/ Shaggy)
“I Get Lonely” Remix (w/ Blackstreet)

Lester Fabian Brathwaite is a roaming writer, editor, bon vivant, and all-around sassbag. He's formerly Senior Editor of Out Magazine and is currently hungry. Insta: @lefabrat