When we caught up with producer
"Janet is like my sister now," Jerkins told MTV News on Wednesday (October 21) at his Los Angeles recording studio. "We definitely have this incredible chemistry, this bond — I think we musically connect, crazily. I knew it — it's funny 'cause I predicted this. Five years ago, people used to ask me who I wanted to work with, and I was like, 'Janet Jackson.' And I was so passionate about that because I've always been a fan of her music and what her and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have done in the past. And I felt like, knowing she wants to try new things, that I feel I can get it and I can deliver it for her," he said.
DarkChild explained that fans can look forward to an emotionally driven album.
"Since we've been working ... I feel like the studio has become a second home for her because with the whole situation with Michael [Jackson] happening, and I feel like right now, emotionally, she can come here and let all her feelings out. I got her writing again — she has the pen and the pad in her hand."
But it's not just the recent passing of her brother Michael that is fueling the content of Jackson's album. Fans are going to see a side of Janet that they've never seen before, thanks in part to Rodney's persuasion.
"You gotta understand, she lost her brother. She was in a relationship for seven years [with Jermaine Dupri] that's over now. There's things that she told me that I didn't even realize. You know, certain [things] like self-esteem that I didn't even realize that she dealt with for years that, you know. ... She's working on her book and she'll deal with that in her book, but also in songs, certain songs we're dealing with that head on. And sometimes it can be a touchy subject for us to even go into, and I kinda had to persuade her, 'Let's just go, let's talk about that.' And she's been doing it, and she's a pro about it."
Although Rodney says you can expect some up-tempo dance tracks on the new album, it won't have the futuristic sound we heard on her last project, 2008's Discipline.
"It's funny, 'cause when we just started the project, she was like, 'I wanna do 10 dance records, all up-tempo to dance. Let's just go dance,' " Jerkins said. The sound is inspired by worldwide influences, from African rhythms to Brazilian and Latin music, and RJ said we can expect features on this album like a Pitbull track that was recorded last week.
"But she hits me today and she says we need to do some mid-tempos as well," Rodney continued. "And I'm glad for that because there's a time when you listen to a record that you wanna mellow out and she always gives us those great smoothed-out mellow records. So now that she's in that zone, it's like 'Yes!' 'cause we can focus on that. But I'm still gonna keep the beats hard underneath 'cause she's still a dancer at heart."
Jenkins and Jackson co-produced her recently released single, "Make Me," which will be included on her greatest-hits compilation Number Ones, due in November. A release date has not been announced for her yet-untitled studio album.