“I think a comeback is when you leave and then you . . . come back,” Janet Jackson says by way of introduction of “Discipline,” her debut for Island Def Jam. “People are always quick to use that word ‘comeback,’ but I never went anywhere, really.”
Due this week, “Discipline,” Jackson insists, does not put her in the same camp as Mary J. Blige or Mariah Carey — it’s not her “Breakthrough,” nor her “Emancipation.” But given the commercially disappointing sales of her preceding Virgin sets, there was a vanishing act of sorts that warrants all the comeback talk.
Heavier on dance tracks than seductive jams (Jackson’s other forte), “Discipline” is classic Janet. The title track is one of her typical frisky bedroom cuts, featuring lyrics like, “I need some discipline tonight/I’ve been very bad” and “Daddy, make me cry.” In addition to production by Jackson’s longtime boyfriend Jermaine Dupri, Island’s head of urban music, “Discipline” also features tracks by newcomers the-Dream and Tricky Stewart (“Umbrella,” “Bed”), Lil Jon, Stargate and songwriters Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin.
With “Discipline,” the aim was to innovate without totally reinventing the wheel. “There’s so much that I’ve done, from ‘Black Cat’ to ‘I Get Lonely’ to ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ to ‘Together Again.’ I have never stuck to one style of music ever,” Jackson says. “There are some things that maybe I’ll try for right now and some things I’ll wait later on to try. It’s [about] sticking to who I am. Even lyrically, something that I’ve experienced or someone that I know has experienced, it has to relate to my life and myself.”