Here’s a wonderful article I found from Noisy Vice News!! Check it out:
This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.
A great producer is like a really great wing buddy: They accentuate all your best points and they make other people love you. They’ll pay you compliments when you need them, and the truth when you don’t. And if we take this hastily-constructed analogy as gospel, then Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would truly make the world’s greatest wingmen. They could get you laid at a Toploader gig.
The legendary songwriting and production duo’s roll call reads like who’s who of Grammy-brandishing alumni, and in their 30-plus years in the game they’ve worked with (amongst others): Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Prince, Luther Vandross, Usher, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Shaggy, Gwen Stefani, TLC, and Kanye West. Basically, all the artists you bang on at 6 AM at a house party once everyone is too tired and too fucked to keep pretending that they truly enjoy PC Music, and everyone just wants soothing classics. Hell, they even worked with 5ive once, but the less said about that the better.
Anyway, Jam and Lewis recently went back into the studio with Janet Jackson to record her Unbreakable record, so we got to sit down for an hour with Jimmy Jam himself to chat about some of the most memorable shit he’s ever contributed to; a task that, due to the breadth of what his golden fingers have touched, he says is “basically impossible.” Still, he tried, and this is what came out of it.
JANET JACKSON AND MICHAEL JACKSON – “SCREAM” (1995)
Jimmy: Michael had told us he wanted to do a song with Janet, so she came to the studio and we came up with five or six ideas to take to him, one of which would become “Scream.”
Michael comes into the studio that day very quietly, wearing a bunch of bangles, jewelry and hard shoes – all the things you’re not supposed to have in a studio. He’s all timid, very quiet, and says [Jimmy affects a perfect Michael voice], “Go ahead, play it from the top.” Straight away he turned into some sort of Tasmanian devil; dancing all around the studio, clapping, snapping, stomping his feet. Normally you’d say something like, “Hey, you gotta stay on the mic.” But we were just were like, “We’re just gonna watch this while you do your thing.” Janet—who was supposed to be recording her vocal the same day—saw this, turned to me and said, “Erm, I think I’ll do my vocal down in Minneapolis.”
I’d never seen anything like it before. I’ve never seen anything like it since. Over the years I’ve had some wonderful and moving studio experiences, but there was an earthquake in New York that day, and it was Michael. The force of Michael. He had just got married to Lisa-Marie Presley at that point. We asked her what brought them together, besides the fact they had showbiz in common, famous families and everything. She said he was the kindest person she’d ever met. That really struck me because that’s exactly what I thought about him too.
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