By the end of the 1980s, Janet Jackson rebounded from the underwhelming performance of her first two albums, Janet Jackson (1982) and Dream Street (1984) to deliver a multi-platinum smash record with Control (1986). After the release of Control, Jackson cemented her place among pop music royalty. It provided the fertile platform to expand her global reach on her next album. She would capitalize on the opportunity in the stellar fashion and launch her promising career into another stratosphere. On September 19, 1989, Rhythm Nation 1814 was released by A&M Records and it became her second consecutive record breaking album within the decade. The record would spawn seven singles, including six number one hits “Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” “Escapade,” “Alright,” “Black Cat,” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You’).” The other single, “Come Back to Me” landed in the number two position on the Billboard Music Charts.
Behind the boards during recording were the titanic producing tandem of James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis. They played a pivotal role in taking Jackson’s career to the next level beginning with Control and three years later with Rhythm Nation 1814. Through their technical precision and huge talent, they were able to craft sounds that would capture the socially conscious theme of the album. Due to their contributions and the ravenous work ethic of Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814 became her highest selling album to close the 1980s. For the album’s 25th anniversary, we spoke with Harris about crafting one of the most definitive records in the latter half of the 20th century.