Life looks different when you’re a responsible parent — even when you’re a superstar.
Hawaii has been one of Janet Jackson’s favorite escape destinations for years — her father had relatives here, several members of her production team grew up here, she loves the people and the food — but the pop music superstar won’t be lingering after her three shows next week at Blaisdell Arena.
Being a parent is the most important thing in her life these days and that means returning to her home in London and her 2-year-old son, Eissa.
“I still perform, but it changed everything,” Jackson said recently during an early morning call from her London residence. “I’m a mother, first and foremost, and I try to fit touring around being a mom.
“I do some shows and then come back, and then go out and do some (more) and come back. It’s changed me so much. Everyone’s always told me that I was very much so a nurturer, and a patient person. But I feel I’ve become more patient, and it really teaches you what patience really means — what it really is having a child. The first thing I think about when someone says anything to me of wanting to do something, it’s about my baby.”
HAWAII IS getting Jackson on her way back from a series of shows in Australia and New Zealand. She’ll be in the arena on Nov. 20, 21 and 23 celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of her Billboard 200 chart-topping, multiplatinum album, “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814,” which officially hit record stores Sept. 19, 1989.
Can it really be 30 years? “There are some aspects that seem like it’s just yesterday, and some a good while ago, but not 30 years ago, not that long ago,” Jackson said emphatically.
Trivia fans know that “Rhythm Nation” is the only album to put seven Top 5 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and is also the only album with chart-topping Hot 100 hits in three consecutive years. What’s more, “Rhythm Nation” was certified 6x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for U.S. sales of more than 6 million copies.
Fan favorites include the title song, which was written by Jackson and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the exuberant love song, “Miss You Much,” written by Jam and Lewis, and “Black Cat,” which Jackson wrote on her own after she decided she wanted to have a straightforward hard rock song on the album.
THE SUCCESS of “Rhythm Nation” was not unexpected. Jackson had worked with Jam and Lewis on her previous album, “Control,” which was the project that launched her as a pop chart superstar in 1986 after two earlier albums had fizzled.
“Control” was in large part autobiographical. It drew inspiration from such life-changing events as the annulment of her first marriage, the termination of the management contract with her father, the hiring of new management and her introduction to Jam and Lewis.
“Control” was certified 5x platinum by the RIAA for U.S. sales of more than 5 million copies, and its first five singles were all Top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
Jackson said she and her production team were “pleased with the entire project. The three of us, we were very happy, we were very pleased with it.”
“I felt that what we wanted to accomplish with it, we did. For me that was really expressing as a young adult myself, what I was going through, things that concerned me. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in this world, (and) that other young adults must be going through some of the same issues, some of the same thoughts. I just tried to connect with them in that way, and I felt that was accomplished with that album.”
Jackson, Jam and Lewis established the theme of her emancipation by making the title song the first one on the album. It started with a defiant statement of personal independence:
“This is a story about control/Control of what I say/Control of what I do/And this time I’m gonna do it my way.”
The song’s take-away message — “Make your life a little easier/When you get the chance just take control” — is an affirmation that has resonated ever since.
“It is a very powerful statement, and it’s not just for young adults,” Jackson said. “It’s for everyone across the board, taking control of your life or certain aspects of your life that you might not (be in control of) at that very moment.”
After “Control” in 1986 and “Rhythm Nation” in 1989 came “Janet,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in 1993 and which sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. Among the tracks that were not released as singles was “This Time,” in which Jackson dressed down some clueless fool who could have been with her but had run around with “nasty hos” instead. It ended with a contemptuous “You’re dismissed!”
Jackson has enjoyed success after success in the years since: hit albums, multiple Grammy Awards, and concert tours that have included memorable shows here at Blaisdell Arena and Aloha Stadium. In March of this year she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with The Cure, Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks as a solo artist, Radiohead, Roxy Music and the Zombies. Jackson has been eligible for induction since 2007.
“I’m appreciative of it, but to be honest about it, I was never really thinking about it from the gate,” she said. “I was just doing what I loved in my job and trying to do it to the best of my ability. The fans wanted (the induction) so badly for me, so badly for me, and I appreciate their support more in that way. If it happened, great, and I would be there alongside my brothers” — the Jackson 5 were inducted in 1997, Michael Jackson as a solo artist in 2001 — “but if it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. It was not something that was on my agenda to do.”
In 1993, Jackson brought her entire crew to Hawaii to rehearse the choreography for a music video they were going to shoot in California.
“We did that for the ‘If’ video, to be exact. We were supposed to be rehearsing in California and I took everybody to Hawaii — all the dancers and everybody — because I really wanted to be there and I needed a break and that’s where I wanted to go. So we rehearsed in Hawaii. We had our sun time, our day time, we put in our hours of rehearsal, and then we came back home (to California) and we shot it.
“I still love it there. The people are so warm and so beautiful, the islands are gorgeous, and there’s so much that I haven’t seen,” she continued. “One year I went with (Creative Director) Gil (Duldulao) to this really private beach. We just had the best time, running around, (and) in the water. I’m in heaven when I’m there, and I love squid luau — and lomi lomi salmon and kalbi!”
Jackson’s love for Hawaii goes back even further than that.
“It’s a special place for me because even before I started in the industry, my brothers used to perform there all the time, so we as a family would always go. It was always so much fun. We used to stay at — the Kahala Hilton is what it was called back then — and that was our home in Hawaii. When I go (to Hawaii) I never want to leave. It’s always like that.”
“Rhythm Nation” 30th Anniversary Tour
>> Where: Blaisdell Arena
>> When: 8 p.m. Nov. 20, 21 and 23
>> Cost: $49.50-$299
>> Info: 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com