Janet Jackson's 'Velvet Rope' turns 20 years old this year

Janet Jackson will forever be one of the queens of music.

Despite her slow start, and having to fight out of the shadows of her late-famous brother, Jackson has become one of the treasures of popular music. She had it all: fame, wealth, and a legacy that was secured as a baby in a blanket.

Just how powerful and valuable was Janet? In 1995, when her contract with Virgin Records was up, Sony Music, the Walt Disney Company and Time Warner all jumped into a bidding war that, to this very day, has not been eclipsed.

But despite having everything she ever wanted, Janet wasn’t happy. The following year she suffered an emotional breakdown, which she has been suffering from since childhood. Her breakdown was deep, which included anorexia and self-harm.

To cope with the depression, Jackson began writing a concept album that would look at life from an introspective point of view, from self-worth to sexual topics. In January of 1997, she would enter the studio to lay down these personal tracks for what would be her sixth LP.

The end result would become The Velvet Rope, which hit store shelves on Oct. 7, 1997, and was met with rave reviews. Everything about The Velvet Rope was personal, from the tracks to the album cover that depicted Jackson’s emotional pain and suffering at the time.

The heavy introspective themes merged with Jackson’s emotional breakdown, which spurred the tracks and made the album somewhat inaccessible since some of her audience would find it hard to relate to most of the tracks.

But just because the LP suffered from inaccessibility didn’t mean that it was bad. In fact, it is one of her best albums.

Sure, she made other albums that were personal to her, but none have come close to what she displays on The Velvet Rope. This album was deep, really deep, and the LP, which went to number one on both the R&B and Billboard 200, deserves to be celebrated for its raw emotional honesty that was turned into beautiful artistry.

That’s what makes The Velvet Rope such an essential album, not only for Janet Jackson fans, but for pop fans in general.