After the negative effects of the Super Bowl incident, Janet’s career, which previously was launching hit after hit, was not doing very well. She needed some strategy to put herself on the market. Her boyfriend, at the time, was Jermaine Dupri, responsible for two of the biggest albums of the Decade – Confessions by Usher and The Emancipation Of Mimi by Mariah Carey. Together with Janet and longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, J.D. brought the urban sound the the project, a little aloof to what Janet used to do, but that was in vogue at the time. Judging by the performance of the previous album, the only segment willing to support Janet was the Urban radio, at which the album is clearly targeted. So, J.D. also recruited rapper Khia (famous for the dirty single “My Neck, My Back ‘) and his colleague Nelly, both with street cred.
The concept of 20 Y.O. is the celebration of 20 years of her breakthrough album (Control), released in 1986. It is the celebration of 20 years of success in her career and you can feel the atmosphere of the mid 80’s in ‘Show Me’; the happy effervescence from ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ in ‘Call On Me’ and ‘Daybreak’ – the latter considered to be the modern version of ‘Escapade’; the sensuality of janet. and the melancholy of The Velvet Rope in ‘Take Care’ and ‘Love 2 Love’; the optimistic point of view of All For You in ‘Enjoy’; and the contemporaneity of the years 2000 in ‘This Body’. We have a clear reference to ‘I Get Lonely’ in ‘ Do It 2 Me ‘ and ‘ With U ‘ would be a sequel to ‘ Let’s Wait Awhile ‘. Unlike the album Damita Jo, with a lot of different producers, 20 Y.O. can be divided into a block produced mostly by J.D. and a block produced by Jimmy and Terry.
The first single from the album was ‘Call On Me’, with rapper Nelly, one of the biggest hits of Janet in the decade, reaching the R&B charts top spot due to physical sales. The music video was the third most expensive by Janet – after ‘Scream’ and ‘What’s It Gonna Be?!’, also collaborations. The next single, ‘So Excited’ with the “Queen of the South”, Khia, didn’t get the same success and the album promotion halted due to lack of support from Virgin Records and the ongoing boycott from MTV. Janet came to declare in an interview with Billboard that she would tour with the album, her first in almost six years, but a note was published in her official website at the time confirming the cancellation of the tour, which, according to some reports, was already at the stage of design and sound check. A partnership between Virgin Records and Yahoo stirred up project promotion and stimulated fan participation in the celebration. They launched a competition challenging fans to submit their own artwork for the album cover. More than 25 images of various moments in her career were made available for use. The winning covers were printed and released in limited editions of 20 Y.O., and their authors won her full discography on CD.
Uma parceria entre a Virgin Records e o Yahoo agitou a divulgação do projeto e participação dos fãs na comemoração dos 20 anos de carreira da Janet. Um concurso lançado no website da cantora desafiou os fãs a enviarem suas próprias artes para a capa do álbum! Foram disponibilizadas mais de 25 imagens de diversos momentos da carreira de Janet em alta qualidade para uso dos participantes. As artes vencedoras foram impressas e lançadas em edições limitadas do 20 Y.O. e os finalistas ganharam a discografia completa de Janet em CD.