PLAYDAR: Janet Jackson Celebrates Another 20-Year Milestone

From a No. 1 album to almost flashing her boobs on the cover of Rolling Stone, the summer of '93 was all about Ms. Jackson.

This week marks 20 years since the release of director John Singleton’s Poetic Justice, which means its also been 20 years since Janet Jackson’s film debut. The groundbreaking flick, about a lonely balladista who recites the works of Maya Angelou to a love-scorned mail clerk, broke form from other early-’90s African-American films by having a female lead in a marketplace that was predominantly driven by males. The film was a success, opening at No. 1 at the box office and making Ms. Jackson an official crossover success. 

The release of Poetic Justice came in a year that was already all about Janet. Earlier in the season, she released her fifth studio album, janet., a sultry mix of interludes and leather- and laced-up grooves that let the world know Michael’s kid sister wasn’t so much of a kid anymore. Then came that now-iconic Rolling Stone cover that had us wondering whose lucky hands those were covering Janet’s bazungas. As it turns out, they were the hands of then-secret boyfriend, video director Rene Elizondo. (The pair is long divorced now, but something tells me he still hasn’t washed his hands.)

Three of the seven singles released from janet. controlled radio stations around the world. The first was the seductive “That’s The Way Love Goes,” which was accompanied by a simple, sexy video starring post-In Living Color fly girl Jennifer Lopez. The baby-maker is also one of Janet’s longest running No. 1’s, spending seven weeks on top. The second single, “If,” was released early summer and its video was nothing short of a gay boy’s dream come true. I’m sure I’m speaking for several boys out there when I say that close-up crotch-grab during the video’s dance routine will be embedded in our dirty gay minds forever. Lastly — and tying it all together — the power ballad “Again” was released as the theme to Poetic Justice. It shot straight to No. 1 and earned Janet a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

To mark the anniversary of the summer Janet ruled the world, I’ve compiled a playlist of songs from the era, plus a recent remix and a Janet-sampling by Kendrick Lamar to show how her influence is still rocking the airwaves today.

Poetic Justice trailer

“That’s The Way Love Goes”

“If”

“Again”

“Throb” (Peter Rauhofer 2013 Remix)

“Poetic Justice” by Kendrick Lamar

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Have music you’d like to see featured on an upcoming Playdar? Email Patrick DeMarco at [email protected].