One year ago today, songstress Janet Jackson dropped “No Sleeep,” the first single off of her 11th studio album, Unbreakable, and her first new song in nearly seven years. Touted as a worldwide event by both Jackson’s team and her immensely dedicated fan base, the seductive track would go on to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart and stay there for an astounding 12 weeks. It also reached No. 18 on the Billboard R&B charts and brought Jackson a groundbreaking 40th entry on the Billboard Hot 100, making today’s anniversary of “No Sleeep” all the more wondrous — except it almost never happened.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly last August, constant Jackson collaborator Jimmy Jam admitted that had it not been for his and music partner Terry Lewis’ exhaustive work ethic, “No Sleeep” would have never been recorded.
“‘No Sleeep’ was basically called that because it was like five in the morning, and we had just completed a day of work [on Unbreakable] and I was still awake,” he stated, “so I was playing around with some different stuff and came up with the skeleton of it. [Terry] hit this track,, and Janet said, ‘Ooh, what’s that?’ [She] loved it —just the feeling that she got when she heard it is the feeling she wanted the fans to have. Just a warm, welcoming, sensual feel. But it was almost forgotten.”
Clearly not forgotten by the #JanFam, the “No Sleeep” anniversary celebration has been in full swing throughout the day, with fans of the entertainer showing their love and appreciation in droves on social media (please note that some fans have been tagging the song as “No Sl333p,” which is how Jackson first introduced the track last year).
Jackson’s “No Sleeep,” as previously mentioned, was the first new song the artist released following a seven-year break from music. After rumors of her return began to pop up from several sources, Jackson herself finally made a definitive statement in August 2014.
If there is a new project, you'll hear it from my lips.— Janet Jackson (@JanetJackson) August 1, 2014
She would then go radio silent for nearly nine more months before fully setting the record straight on her future music plans, with a little help from the first sounds of “No Sleeep.”
“I promised you would hear it from my lips,” Jackson cooed in a teaser video released in May 2015, “and now you will. This year: new music, new world tour, a new movement. I’ve been listening. Let’s keep the conversation going.”
The announcement of the Unbreakable World Tour preceded the release of “No Sleeep” by about a week in June 2015, further adding speculation to the idea that new music from Jackson would be coming soon. Not only was that speculation ultimately confirmed, but further whispers surrounding the name of the new album were solidified that August, when a press release announced that the upcoming LP would indeed be titled Unbreakable. It would be the first release from Rhythm Nation, a music imprint created by Jackson through BMG, and the main speaking point of the movement she created through the hashtag #ConversationsInACafe (the inspiration for its title comes from another Unbreakable single, “Dammn Baby”).
One year after waking the world up with “No Sleeep,” Jackson is more or less taking it easy, as she is currently awaiting the birth of her first child, so says the Inquisitr. Luckily for her, her fans are more than willing to not just “keep the conversation going,” but to raise it even louder on a day of melodic remembrance that almost didn’t occur. Happy anniversary, “No Sleeep”! For those who haven’t seen it, check out the music video, which features hip-hop star J. Cole, below.
[Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images]