Janet Jackson avoided following her brothers into music, preferring to concentrate on an acting career. By 1982, however, family tradition proved too great, and she launched her own solo career.
Her meteoric rise was coupled with equal accolades for the writing and production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Jackson’s socially conscious #2 hit Rhythm Nation came together late in the sessions for her blockbuster LP Rhythm Nation 1814. Co-producer Jimmy Jam recalled being in the studio and “switching between MTV and CNN. Watching music videos on one side and watching atrocities on the other. Somehow they all merged together. The idea for Rhythm Nation was you can dance, but we can also do something more intelligent.”
When Jam heard Sly and the Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) at a restaurant, he raced to the studio to sample it.