Songs I Wish Everyone Knew: “The Knowledge” by Janet Jackson

In a general sense, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 is one of those records everyone should know cover-to-cover, and I don’t feel like that’s unreasonable. When it comes to the coexistence of pop, R&B, and hip-hop, there are very few records that rival this one (I’d say at least 3 of the ones that do are Janet’s, anyway.) It would be easy enough digging through her almost 35 year music career and finding some hidden obscurity, but I felt it was necessary to bring some light to this glorious gem hiding in plain sight. Rhythm Nation is not only one of the most recognized and iconic albums in pop history, but it’s one of the most successful. The album cranked out an unfathomable 7 US top-5 singles, 4 of them reaching #1, outdoing even her own brother. “The Knowledge,” somewhat curiously, was not one of them. Maybe it’s the bold lack of structure or melody that kept it out of single-territory, but that’s what makes it such a standout on the album. Jam & Lewis’ production is sparkly and intricate, despite the track being one of the more simple pieces on Rhythm Nation. The entire song is built around this heralding bass line that acts a vessel for a mesmerizing, largely spoken vocal arrangement. “The Knowledge” is funky, it’s unique, and it’s socially conscious to boot. It’s truly Janet Jackson at her best.





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