Control // Janet Jackson

In 1986, Janet Jackson had a failed marriage under her belt. She’d released two albums that she hated, having no creative input. They both flopped. Her acting career was going nowhere. And to top it off, her brother was the biggest star in the world. So what does she do? One option was to go to college, become an attorney. The other option—do it her own way.

She would sever ties with her father Joe Jackson and, through her new management, link with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who wanted nothing but to get her out of her comfort zone in LA and record in Minneapolis. The music—funk. (Jimmy Jam wanted this album to be “the Black album of all time.”) The lyrics—honest and raw.  At the time, Jackson herself stated, “It’s aggressive, cocky, very forward. It expresses exactly who I am and how I feel.” It was a gamble.

What went through her mind the night before its release? How did she feel hearing the lead single “What Have You Done for Me Lately” on the radio? Her father hated the sound. But, as the story is told, when Michael first saw the video for “Nasty Boys” he cried in amazement of the woman his sister had become.

We all know what Control did for her career. The words “breakthrough” and “triumph” are used a lot. But why is it our muse for the inaugural issue of Arcade44? You don’t have to go much further than the story to know why. It’s never too late to take the leap, to make the bold choice—to make decisions for your life that are unknown and bold and risky. Looking back at the journey and celebrating the big mistakes for the gifts they were. You only need to go so far as the lyrics to know why. Being a million times greater and better than your yesterday is cool. Stepping out on faith is cool. Forever adapting and growing as an artist, as a man and woman, is cool. Falling in love is cool. Demanding respect is cool. Being self-assured and courageous is cool. Being and doing everything your naysayers said you couldn’t is pretty cool. Taking control of your life is cool. Living your mission with style is cool. And you only need to hear the music to know why. Rocking out and jamming to the beat—to the art—is cool.