Shoulda Known Better
Label: BMG Rights Management (US) LLC
“Hello, it’s been a while; lots to talk about,” Janet Jackson says at the end of the title track, an ecstatic homage to her brother Michael. Split into two sides like a record, her first album in six years offers spiritual love inspired by her conversion to Islam. (Even a “No Sleeep” duet with J. Cole sounds chaste.) “Side One” boasts “BurnItUp!,” which flips Laid Back’s “White Horse” beat with Missy Elliott’s manic shouting. “Side Two” has too many fuzzy “Dream Maker” wishes to “Create a perfect place/ Without jealousy abuse or hate,” and not enough verve. Still, it’s great to have Janet back.