Rolling Stone (10/30/97, p.67) - 3.5 Stars (out of 5) - "...there's plenty of emotional navel gazing here, but there are also moments of unsullied pop bliss....it's a testimonial to the record's merits that it's ultimately stronger than Jackson's sense of self-importance."
Spin (1/98, p.87) - Ranked #15 on Spin's list of the "Top 20 Albums Of The Year."
Entertainment Weekly (10/10/97, pp.89-90) - "...In the end, the most daring thing about THE VELVET ROPE isn't its sex talk but its honesty. Tempting as it may be to compare the album to similarly sultry stuff like Madonna's EROTICA, it's much closer in spirit to the unabashed emotionalism of Joni Mitchell's BLUE..." - Rating: A
Village Voice (2/24/98) - Ranked #24 in the Village Voice's 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
Personnel includes: Janet Jackson (vocals); Q-Tip (rap vocals); Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis (various instruments); Mike Scott, Dave Barry, O. Nicholas Raths (guitar); Vanessa Mae, Hanley Daws, Brenda Mickens, Michael Sobieski, Elizabeth Sobieski, Carolyn Daws, Leslie Shank, Daria Tedeschi, Jan Chong (violin); Alice Preves, Myrna Rain, Glen Donnellen, Charles Gray (viola); Josh Koestenbaum, Daryl Skobba, Dale Newton, Camilla Heller (cello); Ken Holmen (flute, clarinet, saxophone); Lynne Erickson (trumpet); James "Big Jim" Wright (organ, keyboards, background vocals); Gary Raynor (bass); Alex Richbourg (drum programming, background vocals); Xavier Smith (drum programming); The United Children's Choir (background vocals); Joni Mitchell.
Producers: Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson.
Recorded at Flyte Tyme Studios, Edina, Minnesota.
"I Get Lonely" was nominated for the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
In her most personal and emotionally revealing album to date, Janet Jackson tackles subjects close to her heart, including homophobia, abusive relationships, AIDS, and sexuality. THE VELVET ROPE is deftly produced by longtime Jackson collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who have a knack for injecting heavy, emotionally charged themes into musically flawless, stylistically innovative settings. The understated "Got 'Til It's Gone" features A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip and a sample of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi." "What About," an edgy narrative from the perspective of an abused woman, contrasts a romantic, moonlit beach scene with memories of abuse. "Free Xone," highlights Jackson's open-minded perspective on sexuality: "Free to be/Who you really are/One rule/No rules." It is this expansiveness that marks THE VELVET ROPE as more than just another mainstream pop record.