10 Essential Janet Jackson Rare Grooves


If you're anything like me, you haven't been able to get enough of Janet Jackson's music since she informed us all that "Privacy" is her middle name. Being an icon in the game, there is plenty of material out there that didn't make her studio albums. Below, I have attempted to declare my ten favorites (in no particular order). Let's dance:

1. "Pops Up" (Damita Jo era)

There is no mistaking that this is a Rich Harrison production. In one word, it is percussive. The horn loops and the slightly off-beat tambourine really help make for a criminally funky groove. It really is a shame that Jan didn't work more extensively with Harrison, as it seems that had good (if fleeting) chemistry in the studio. This track is perfect for Jackson's light vocals, and allows her to work her playfully sexy side.

2. "Put It On You" (Damita Jo era)

Another Rich Harrison creation, "Put It On You" (aka "Put It On Me" or
"Speed It Up") is beat heavy, with a guest appearance by a pair of MC's
no one can seem to positively identify. The music here is a bit more
sparse, leaving plenty of room for a flirtatious Janet vocal. It's easy
to see why this was left off of the project, but it does make for good
listening outside of the context of an album.

3. "Roll Witchu" (20 Y.O. era)

Somewhere between "With U" and "Rock With U" there was "Roll Witchu," a more urban-leaning jam that smacks of the Jermaine Dupri midtempo
aesthetic (which is a good thing). Musing on an encounter on the dance
floor, Janet taps into the sexiness of sharing a dance with someone you
might not know all that well now, but may get to know intimately later.

4. "70's Love Groove"
(janet. era)

Oh my damn. Even though recorded long before the aforementioned
track, "70's Love Groove" seems like a conceptual continuation of "Roll
Witchu." Dripping with carnal sweat, this song was designed for one
thing. If you're playing this while with your significant other, you
better have packed a lunch (and another pair of draws). This track was
probably included on Tommy Strong's G.T.D. mixtape.

5. "Could This Be Love"
(Damita Jo era)

Another contender in the "Shoulda Been A Single" department, we have
"Could This Be Love," which is just so vibrant...not unlike the feeling
of new love itself. Gorgeous. This would have been a perfect complement
to "I Want You," had it made the album.

6. "God's Stepchild" (The Velvet Rope era)

This ethereal ballad sounds a bit like the not-so-distant cousin of
"Again." Here, Janet gets very introspective and deeply personal about
her loneliness and insecurities. Also found on the soundtrack to the
film, Down in the Delta.

7. "One More Chance"
(janet. era)

Beautiful cover of The Jacksons track from their Victory album. Brother Randy penned this. When Jan is asking her lover towards the end to "say you love me," I get chills. Breathtaking.

8. "You Need Me" (Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 era)

Okay. Janet straight spazzes on Papa Joe here (if it wasn't
apparent to you). This is one of the most specific and autobiographical
songs Janet has recorded about her family. You begin to get a good
grasp of the frayed Jackson family dynamic here. This is a brilliant Jam & Lewis
uptempo track, very in line with what they were doing with Janet at the
time. You want to dance, but there's so much pain here that you feel
wrong for jamming.

9. "Accept Me" (The Velvet Rope era)
Another deeply personal song that still didn't really have a place on the turbulent Velvet Rope
album. This is another example of Janet making her pain very palatable
(musically, anyway). A nice, midtempo groove you can sway to.

10. "And On And On" (janet. era)
"This is a song about...summertime...may it never end." That's all you
really need to know about this breezy track. It samples the
unmistakable groove from Sly & the Family Stone's
classic "Family Affair," slowed down just a taste for effect. You
cannot frown and listen to this. Makes you wish for sand under your
feet, instead of hard and crunchy snow.

Are you a stan for Jan? What's your favorite rare Janet track?


16 Responses

  1. Dar, no disrespect but this list is mad crazy! I dont mean a good crazy either:-) There's a reason the songs you chose didnt make her studio list or get any heavy radio play....They all suck big time:-)It's obvious that you dig the latest, newest Janet crapfest, but for me and a lot of other folks who know better, Janet best music is her older stuff. You mean to tell me "when I think of you", "Anything", That's the way love goes" "lets wait a while" "what have you done for me lately", "Alright w/ Heavy D" should even be mentioned with the joints you listed? If I have a choice of Janets "rare" cuts or her classic cuts, I'm going with the classics. Real talk, I honestly have never heard of most of these joints mainly because I stopped buying Janets albums about 10 years ago. I'm trying to work through the list as we speak and so far, it's all been one gigantic crapfest.........

  2. Not a bad list at all but some of these certainly aren't up to Jan's typically high standards. Of the couple I haven't heard, Could This Be Love is certainly the most single worthy. And On & On and 70's Love Groove were both released as B-side singles, with both gatting a lot of airplay during the Janet album era. So I don't count those two.

  3. There's a hidden track at the end of Velvet Rope called "Strong Enough". It's a damn good song. Very empowering. I wish she would've released it as a single.

  4. Thanks for this. I've never heard "You Need Me", leave it to Janet to make a sad dance song. "God Stepchild" and "70's Love Groove". Again thanks, you've brightened my Monday.

  5. Avatar

    Agree with Stony 100%

  6. "Roll Witchu" is one of JJ's finest urban moments, and was included with the divine "Days Go By" on the Japanese pressing of "20 Y.O.," of which I am a proud owner.
    Barring the ill-fated Rich Harrison work, go-go just doesn't go with Janet sad to say, these are mostly wicked songs. Stoneyisland...I could disagree w/ you more, especially on "Roll Witchu." And you've been missing out on quality JJ work. "Damita Jo" anyone?-QH

  7. Good list! Janet has some pretty good rares, true that these aren't going to be up to par with stuff like "When I Think Of You" or "Alright" but it's kind of cool just to revel in obscurity....Whoa @ "You Need Me"...that song has alot of bite to it! And thanks for putting some 'Damita Jo' rares, that album is NOT bad at all and I tend to favor stuff she did from that era more so than the 'All For You' years
    Has anyone heard of "Start Anew"? It was from the 'Control' era and was only released on the Japanese 'Control' album, it does have a cheesy synth sound to it, but I really adore that track
    And as someone mentioned, "Strong Enough" from Velvet Rope is another great rare track as well.

  8. "You Need Me" is my all-time favorite Janet Jackson song, it was a B side of her first single "Miss You Much". If I could find an mp3 of that joint, I would be set. The lyrics are real and when she sings that song, she means it.

  9. OMG. i so love you for doing this forever and ever. though i don't like the term i stan so hard for janet it's ridiculous. and all the tracks you listed i have and then some. and it's for reasons like this that i love soulbounce people who know good music and support it. keep doin yall thing.
    hell here are my 10 favorite janet rarities
    I'm Here (Damita Jo Era)
    What Can I Say (Damita Jo Era)
    Let Me Know (Discipline)
    Who (All For You Era)
    Rock N Roll (Dream Street Era)
    Put Your Hands On (Damita Jo Era)
    Weekend (20 Y.O Preview)
    and there are so many so i'll stop now. but this just made my day.

  10. My fave rare Janet jams were the cuts from her second album which were played in 81 and 82 on WKTU and WBLS -- those tracks, namely, "Come Give Your Love to Me" and "Young Love" were spun along with some other seminal unheralded tracks that went on to define the 80s sound template.

  11. I miss Janet. Classic Janet. but this is one of my favorite rare janet songs"ask for more"...thanks for this list, i didnt know a couple of these

  12. I love "Ask for More." I believe it was created to coincide with a Pepsi campaign overseas. it is a pretty good song for what it is.
    i also just wanted to clarify that i don't believe that all of these songs should have been singles, but are rather interesting pieces of Janet Jackson's canon. some of her more rare songs are better than some folk's singles.
    i am also not of the school of thought that believes nothing Janet has done for us lately is good. there's plenty of nice things to discover on ALL of her records (even her self-titled album and "Dream Street.") "Damita Jo," "20 Y.O.," and "Discipline" may not be classics, but they are certainly good enough for a lot of people.

  13. See, I sort of agree w/ dar. But I do think that there are classics to be found on her last three LPs, hell, DJ is a classic as an entire body of work itself. Can anyone argue against "Slolove," "Island Life," and "Spending Time W/ You"? Or "Show Me," "Do It 2 Me," "Enjoy," "Take Care," "Luv," "Can't B Good," "Rollercoaster," "Curtains." These last few records were solid on singles and in terms of how they were arranged album wise.
    JJ is an act who people romanticize and act like she only had ONE period where her work was decent, but most don't challenge themselves to move beyond 1997 or 1993, depending on the silly individual.-QH

  14. Wow, I don't know of any other artist with so many B sides and rarities. And On and On and '70s Love Groove REEALLLY took me back. Dang, I'm old. lol...

  15. I can't believe I just found this. Of course I can't just narrow it down to one, but my favorite rare JJ tracks are "70's Love Groove," "One More Chance," and "And On And On." Thanks for the track listing.

  16. Ask for more
    I know the truth (elton john)
    let me know