When radio stations began playing Janet Jackson's "Doesn't Really Matter" before its official release last week, producer Jimmy Jam had mixed feelings.
"You like to have a game plan, so you can build a single up the way you want to," Jam said from Flyte Tyme studios in Minneapolis, which he owns with partner Terry Lewis. "On the other hand, the fact that radio was so eager to play it was wonderful."
The song is the first single from the soundtrack to "The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," in which Jackson stars with Eddie Murphy. The film will be released on July 28.
The soundtrack, to be released July 11, also features a remix of Sisqó's "Thong Song" (RealAudio excerpt of original version) featuring rapper Foxy Brown, as well as tracks from singers Brian McKnight and R. Kelly and rappers DMX and Jay-Z.
The upbeat "Doesn't Really Matter" is Jackson's first single since 1998's "Go Deep," from her 1997 album, The Velvet Rope. Until early May, nobody was sure whether Jackson was going to record a song for the soundtrack.
Jimmy Jam, who began producing the S.O.S. Band with Lewis in 1983 while the two were still members of the group The Time, said that in April the movie's director, Peter Segal, brought a rough cut of the film to Flyte Tyme, where Jackson was working on her next album.
"He said, 'Now that you've seen the film, if you'd like to do a song for it, that'd be great,' " Jimmy Jam (born James Harris III) said. Segal gave them a May 15 deadline, and on May 12, Jackson came to Jimmy Jam with three songs, including "Doesn't Really Matter."
"It lyrically goes with her character in the movie," Jimmy Jam said. Jackson plays Denise, who falls in love with Murphy's obese character Sherman Klump. "The song is about 'it's what's inside that counts.' "
"You think it's funny when you hear that Janet and Klump have a relationship, but they make it believable," Jimmy Jam added.
He said the song is a return to Jackson's more melodic, pop side and a departure from the more groove-based The Velvet Rope. If you've caught it on the radio, you might not have heard Jam and Lewis' final mix. Jimmy Jam said the versions he's heard on the radio haven't been the version he mastered two weeks ago. He also said some radio stations are doing their own edits of the song.
"That's wonderful, because it means radio is excited about it," he said.
Jackson's fans are excited to hear her on the radio again, too. "It reminds me of 'Escapade,' " said Jackson fan Martina Rich of Fort Collins, Colo. "I'm really excited she's working on a whole new album."
Jimmy Jam said he and Lewis have been working with Jackson, 34, in Minneapolis off and on for several months on her next album, which he said should be out early next year. The duo have produced all of Jackson's albums since her 1986 release, Control.
He said the tracks they've worked on so far emphasize Jackson's melodic sensibilities but that they worked with producer Rockwilder to give some of the songs a more hip-hop edge.
Jimmy Jam said one song, "Feels So Right," has a mellow vibe similar to Jackson's 1993 single "That's the Way Love Goes," but with hip-hop beats. He also said the album will include a track with hard-rock guitars.
He said they were originally only going to work with Rockwilder whose production credits include rappers Redman and Method Man on one song, but they ended up recording four tracks with the producer.
"He's comfortable working in all genres," Jimmy Jam said. "It's nice, because he's not one-dimensional."