A first look at Janet Jackson's new album. She's back in the studio, and we have the scoop
Janet Jackson
Credit: Janet Jackson: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com

The one untarnished star of the Jackson clan took four years between albums last time. But it looks as if fans won’t have to wait nearly as long for Janet Jackson’s next pop/R&B opus. Six months after wrapping her tour behind 2001’s ”All For You,” Janet is at work on her next studio album; she hopes to release it early in 2003, according to her longtime collaborator Jimmy Jam, who’s once again co-producing with partner Terry Lewis.

”Janet was itching to get back in the studio,” Jam says. ”We talked about a million different possible things to do and finally decided to do a brand-new album.” Jackson has already begun recording two songs, both of which are in the vein of her 1993 smash ”That’s The Way Love Goes” — which Jam cites as his favorite Janet song ever. ”It’s sensual, mid-tempo, and it has a little bit of a jazzy vibe,” Jam says of the new material, while adding that other songs may go in entirely different directions. (Jackson’s publicist at Virgin Records didn’t return calls.)

It’s still unclear if the still-untitled new album will continue ”All For You”’s fun-loving, sexually explicit themes. On that album’s title song, Jackson sang that she hoped to ”ride” a clubgoer’s ”nice package,” and she got even raunchier on other tracks. ”The ‘All For You’ album was very refreshing record,” Jam says. ”It was at a point in Janet’s life where she was getting out of a divorce but felt, I’m gonna be okay, I’m gonna live my life. Lyrically, the new album’s going to be whatever’s going on in her life right now.”

One possible guest-star on the new CD is none other than Jackson’s pal (and rumored more-than-pal) Justin Timberlake, Jam says, while cautioning that no definite plans are in place. ”We love Justin,” says Jam, who, along with Lewis, had talked to Timberlake about working on his upcoming solo album (in the end, they didn’t participate). By the way, despite knowing both Janet and Justin, Jam denies playing matchmaker. ”Nah, they already knew each other,” he says, laughing. Just don’t tell Britney.