DAR Music: 9 Classic Albums Produced By Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis

By @TrueGodImmortal

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are legends. The two producers and songwriters have been discussed before on this site, but only for the hit singles they produced. With over 35 years in the business doing what they do best, the duo has contributed so much to the music world, that we felt it was only right to take a look back at some of the greatest albums that they have been a big part of. They've contributed tracks to some of the biggest albums ever, but their best work comes when they can lock in on an entire album and shape the bulk of the project. Today, I wanted to look back at some of the most classic albums that they have helped to shape. Let's take a look. 

*Janet Jackson- The Velvet Rope (1997)

-I will be the first to state that I'm not a huge fan of this album. I think it is definitely one of the best Janet albums, but of all the Janet albums you will see on this list, it would be at the bottom for me. Still, there are some albums that you have to recognize regardless of personal preference and The Velvet Rope is exactly that type of album. After bouts of depression and anxiety, Janet once again creates an album that is personal, perhaps too personal in some ways. Themes on this album included depression, self worth, social networking (10 years before it became so prevalent), domestic violence, and varying instances of sexuality. The production ranged from a variety of sounds, and showcases Janet as an even bigger risktaker and icon. As far as the album and the songs themselves, tracks like "You", the massive hit "Got Til It's Gone", "Together Again", and of course, "I Get Lonely" are highlights on the album. While not my favorite, The Velvet Rope was such an impactful album and Janet's image during that time is still showing signs of influence, even today.

*Cherelle- High Priority (1985)

-One of the more underrated vocalists of her time, Cherelle is a legend. Her work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis elevated her career to a high level, with Alexander O'Neal being a big reason for her success as well. This album would end up being her biggest in terms of individual success, as it spawned the hit "You Look Good To Me" and her largest hit ever "Saturday Love" with O'Neal. Other highlights on the album include "Artifical Heart", "New Love", and "Will You Satisfy". Cherelle is an underrated artist from this time period, but this album is one that can't be denied.

*The S.O.S. Band- On The Rise (1983)

-I have always been a fan of The S.O.S Band, and I always thought they made solid albums. Of course, I was late to the party on their music, but once I discovered it, I went back and studied their music. Their projects were almost always exclusively produced by Jam and Lewis, so essentially, there were many other choices in terms of albums for this list. However, this is their best work and features one of the greatest songs of all time. Yes, one of the greatest songs of all time. That song is the classic "Tell Me If You Still Care", which might be my favorite Jam and Lewis production ever. Other highlights on the album include "If You Want My Love", "Who's Making Love", and "Just Be Good To Me". This is easily one of the most fluid Jam and Lewis produced albums, as there are no skips on this one IMO.

*Cheryl Lynn- Preppie (1983)

-On her fifth album, Cheryl Lynn would reach her musical peak, due to some top tier assistance from Jam and Lewis. After albums crafted by Ray Parker Jr. and luther Vandross (both of which are really good), Cheryl went to work with the Minnesota producers and together, they would make a classic. It worked so well that they would follow up this album with another produced by Jam and Lewis, which was the first time she had done consecutive albums with the same producers. In addition to the title track, which was a moderate hit, this album also featured singles like "This Time" and perhaps her most infamous single ever "Encore". Some producers just have that magic with every artist they work with, and I believe Jam and Lewis definitely are those type of producers.

*Janet Jackson- Control (1986)

-Quite possibly my favorite work from Janet turned 32 this year. It is amazing to see how well albums sound three decades later and with this project, Jam and Lewis would forge a musical partnership that changed both of their careers forever. With the New Jack Swing sound being hinted at in this album, Janet would deliver the best work of her career up until this point, with classics such as the title track, "What Have You Done For Me Lately", "Nasty", "The Pleasure Principle", "When I Think Of You", and "Let's Wait Awhile" on the album, Janet positioned herself as a more mature artist, and her image would slow begin to change with it. This is considered her breakthrough album and it is the start of her partnership with Jam and Lewis, so it is without a doubt a classic not only for her discography, but for music in general.

*Alexander O'Neal- Alexander O'Neal (1985)

-I am very much a big fan of Alexander O'Neal and much like the S.O.S. Band, I discovered his music later and studied it. His debut album is his best to me, though some will look to Hearsay as that. This album features my favorite O'Neal song, the hit "If You Were Here Tonight", as well as other important singles like "Innocent", "A Broken Heart Can Mend", and another favorite of mine "Do You Wanna Like I Do". The sounds on this album are among some of my favorite from Jam and Lewis, and there was no way to make a list like this without mentioning an album from O'Neal.

*Janet Jackson- Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

-Janet is a legend and her work with Jam and Lewis is why. When we look at the producer and artist combinations of the genre, this pairing is probably up there with Michael and Quincy. Janet went a different route on this album, and it worked. It was a concept album addressing social issues all over the world, but Jam and Lewis made sure to provide the rhythm and sound needed to still make you dance despite the messages within the songs. There were very few artists at the time on a grand scale like Janet that would take the risk, and this album definitely has an experimental vibe to it, but it works. And it works well. From the classic "Miss You Much" to the title track to "State Of The World" to "Alright" to Escapade" and more, Janet delivers an album that stands very high in her discography. Rhythm Nation inspired a whole generation of female singers and dancers without question and for that alone, it is a classic and easily one of the biggest Jam and Lewis produced albums.

*New Edition- Heart Break (1988)

-The greatest R&B group of all time needed an image change. They needed a sound change, they needed a style change, simply put, change was the key for New Edition. With the departure of Bobby Brown and the addition of Johnny Gill, change was definitely put into play for this album. With the group working with Jam and Lewis for the first time, they showed immense chemistry together, as the legendary production duo would end up producing timeless gems like "Can You Stand The Rain", "If It Isn't Love", "You're Not My Kind Of Girl", "Boys To Men", and many more. Heart Break is not only one of the best albums produced by Jam and Lewis, but it is easily the greatest New Edition album.

*Janet Jackson- Janet (1993)

-Of course, you knew Janet would have a number of albums here. She is the one artist that Jam and Lewis always seemed to have perfect chemistry with and this 1993 release was their best work. While the previous albums before were classic in their own right, this album would showcase a different, more sensual side of Janet and even a slightly rougher edge. While Control was pure 80s R&B and Rhythm Nation was more conceptual, Janet was more personal without question. This album came after Janet signed a huge 40 million dollar contract to become the highest paid artist in the game, and she decided that with her success, she could take a risk and become more open as an artist. It would pay off big time. This album showcases more of her intimate side, as sexual intimacy is a major theme throughout the album and it works. There are some albums, like Sade's Love Deluxe, or even Jodeci's Forever My Lady that have a vibe to them, and Janet is in that category. This album would make Janet an even bigger global icon and a much bigger sex symbol. Her sensual side was on display on songs like "That's The Way Love Goes", "If", "Throb", "Because Of Love", and of course, "Anytime, Any Place". All in all, this is her most well rounded work and I consider this album to her best work and the best album that Jam and Lewis produced period.



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