Superstar entertainer Janet Jackson is one of the first pop artists to work with rappers, despite the fact being credited to Mariah Carey (and we’re sure Jody Watley has them both beat by a hair with “Friends”). While Mariah was living in a world full of rainbows and butterflies having visions of love, Janet was kicking brand new flavor in your ears.
In celebration of the dance pop diva’s 49th birthday on May 16th, let’s take a one, two step down memory lane and look back at a history of Janet Jackson’s collaborations with some of hip-hop’s l greatest and lamest rappers.
Heavy D – “Alright (Remix)” (1990)
Janet Jackson found great success as a dance pop singer with a message. Noticing she could use a little street cred, she invited the overweight lover into her musical house for an alternate version of “Alright.” The track is perfect for Heavy D; he spit a funky 16 while cutting a rug in the video. This song is also important because it makes Waterbed Hev the only rapper to work with both Janet and Michael, which he did on 1992’s “Jam.”
Michael Bivins & Ronnie DeVoe – “The Best Things In Life Are Free” (1992)
As much as we love BellBivDeVoe for telling us to never trust a big butt and a smile, calling them rappers is a bit of a stretch. However, the two singer/rappers did contribute rhymes to Janet’s duet with Luther Vandross. The song appears on the Mo Money soundtrack and is based off some game Damon Wayans was trying to run on Stacey Dash.
Chuck D – “New Agenda” (1993)
As men around the world celebrated Janet’s new found sex appeal, she didn’t abandon her fight for social justice. “New Agenda” was a militant hip-pop song focused on pushing the gender equality movement forward. Public Enemy frontman Chuck D urged us to cherish our women for the simple fact “if it wasn’t for our sisters there would be no misters.” You can’t deny that one.
Q-Tip – “Poetic Justice” (1993), “Got Til It’s Gone” (1997)
A Tribe Called Quest rhymer Q-Tip got to double dip in the Janet Jackson collaboration pool. He got to have an ill make out session with her in the first few minutes of Poetic Justice. Writer/director John Singleton must’ve thought The Abstract’s character should die happy because he was killed two minutes later. The pair reunited for the Grammy Award winning single “Got Til It’s Gone” four years later, which stirred dating rumors. However, no one knew Janet was secretly married at the time.
Tupac Shakur – “Poetic Justice” (1993)
The death of Justice’s boyfriend Markell (Q-Tip) sends her into an inescapable despair. She meets Tupac’s character Lucky and isn’t even fazed by his flirtations and come-ons. After a rocky start on a road trip to Oakland, Lucky and Justice begin to open up and fall hard for each other. Tupac and Janet had every dude checking for dirt under his nails before approaching a woman.
MC Lyte – “You Want This” (1994)
Early 1994 found MC Lyte still riding high off the success of “Ruff Neck.” Miss Jackson recruited the Brooklyn rapper to contribute a verse to the seventh single from janet called “You Want This.” Janet and Lyte were telling men they had to come correct if they wanted any type of play or general conversation.
Coolio – “Runaway (Remix)” (1995)
Music fans spent most of ’95 living in Coolio’s gangsta’s paradise. So although it makes absolutely no sense now, Coolio was the perfect choice for hip-hop remix of her hit “Runaway.” While the song was a sonic thank you note to her fans across the globe, Coolio used his bars to mack. He talked about running away with a woman and flying her all around the world. It seems far fetched now, but at one point Coolio had the bread to do it.
Busta Rhymes – “What’s It Gonna Be?!” (1999), “Feedback (Remix)” (2008)
People were struck with fear in 1999 due to the supposed Y2K crash looming. Busta Rhymes couldn’t be concerned with that because he was working on a dope collaboration with Janet J. “What’s It Gonna Be?!” found Janet reaching deep into her bag of sex tricks and telling The Dungeon Dragon that she would make his body wet and cream and it didn’t matter who came out on top. Is that not every man’s Janet Jackson sex fantasy? Hell yeah! (More on “Feedback (Remix)” later.)
Ja Rule & Eve – “Boyfriend/Girlfriend” (1999)
Teddy Riley’s R&B group Blackstreet began a nice working relationship with the pop music queen on the Timbaland-produced remix of “I Get Lonely.” They teamed up for another duet for Blackstreet’s album Finally… The aural battle of the sexes features two then freshman rappers Ja Rule and Eve. Each rapper’s verse echoed the sentiments relayed by the singers. Ja and Eve didn’t get a chance to meet Janet because their parts in the song and video were recorded and filmed separately. Also, shout out to Lil Mo for writing Janet’s sassy verse.