Janet Jackson in 1989
Photo: Courtesy of artist
Janet Jackson's Iconic 'Rhythm Nation 1814' Turns 30 Today & We Still Have Work To Do
"The fact that the lyrics remain relevant is a bit of a disappointment actually. It means we haven't moved too far away from the prejudice, ignorance, hate and racial bias that we spoke about 30 years ago," co-producer Jimmy Jam recently said
30 years ago today, a 23-year old Janet Jackson released her groundbreaking, GRAMMY-nominated fourth studio album, Rhythm Nation 1814. The chart-topping 20-track epic not only shook up the music world with its futuristic, raw, industrial soundscape, it also paved the way for socially conscious pop at a poignant time. It followed 1986's GRAMMY-nominated breakout hit album Control, which was the first time Jackson was given creative control over her music.
As with its predecessor, Jackson worked with GRAMMY-winning musical powerhouses Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, diving deeper into the collaborative co-writing and co-production process they had established. On Rhythm Nation her professional and personal empowerment shines through as she reflects on the madness of the times, and it still hits today. Unfortunately, her message for a safer, more equal world is still is a relevant today as it was then. It's definitely time to revisit the powerful album and take its words and rhythms to heart.
The year was 1989, and the first mass-shooting since the dawn of CNN (in 1980) had, understandably, shaken up the American public, Jackson included. The horrific, racially charged attack took place at an elementary school in Stockton, Calif., leaving five of students dead and 30 other people injured.
On Rhythm Nation 1814's heart-breaking 11th track, "Livin' In A World (They Didn't Make)," Janet echoes the tragedy in the chorus: "Livin' in a world that's filled with hate. / Livin' in a world where grown-ups break the rules / (And they're just) Livin' in a world they didn't make / Payin' for a lot of adult mistakes. / How much of this madness can they take, our children?"
The song ends with gunshots and children's screams, as a clip of a reporter announcing the news of the shooting pulses in and out of the track, fading into the background, almost like an additional, jarring interlude. This specific tragedy may have faded from our social memory, but, even more tragically, sounds eerily similar to breaking news in 2019, and to the countless shootings this nation has endured the past 30 years.
"The fact that the lyrics remain relevant is a bit of a disappointment actually. It means we haven't moved too far away from the prejudice, ignorance, hate and racial bias that we spoke about 30 years ago," Jam recently told Billboard. Yet just because it's downright sad that we're still here doesn't mean we don't have the ability to truly move forward and grow as a nation, for everyone.
"I still believe the power of music is the healing force for all things. It transcends language, race, age, and unites all the commonalities that we have. It's necessary like the air we breathe and we're going to continue to use our gifts to try to change lives in a positive way," he added.
Jam also spoke to her far-reaching influence on music, beyond her unmistakable pop footprint, over the years:
"Janet being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was well-deserved. So many of the trends in music today and the idea of female empowerment on all musical levels owe so much to her. Her innovations in staging, from her headset microphone to the elaborate arena size theatrical sets, and groundbreaking music videos incorporating innovative dance steps have been, and are still being, emulated by all artists across the board, not just rock n' roll. The Rhythm Nation album was designed to use music to inspire and inform people."
It's safe to say that the album did, and still does, make waves. The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, seven out of eight of its singles hit the Top 10 and the album and singles earned seven GRAMMY nods across two shows. At the 32nd GRAMMY Awards, in addition to the trio all earning Producer Of The Year (Non-Classical) nominations, the 30-minute album visual won Best Music Video, Long Form.
"I feel that most socially conscious artists—like Tracy Chapman, U2—I love their music, but I feel their audience is already socially conscious," Jackson told Rolling Stone in 1990. "I feel that I could reach a different audience, let them know what’s going on and that you have to be a little bit wiser than you are and watch yourself."
Maybe we just need to play it a little louder.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes
GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program
On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.
Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.
"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."
The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.
"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.