Janet Jackson Shares The Story Behind Her Key Earring, The “Nasty” Song & More

February 13, 2020  |  

Janet Jackson

Source: picture alliance / Getty

Janet Jackson is an icon. Coming from a legendary musical family, creating her own chart-topping records and establishing a new sound for pop music, with the help of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

As an icon, Janet Jackson rocked some incredibly memorable looks over time. One of the most notable ones is the key dangling from her hoop earring.

Recently, in the promotion of her new Black Diamond tour and her new album, Jackson stopped by Jimmy Fallon.

The key earring

Questlove: I always wanted to know, for years you wore a key in your earring, I guess for your animal cages or whatever but where is that key? What happened to it?
Janet: I’m pretty sure it’s in storage, in my storage. I never kept a keychain and I took care of the animals. We had so many animals growing up. We had fawn, mouflon sheep, peacocks, giraffe, just all kinds of animals. So, it was my job to feed them, to clean the cages. That was my chore. It was a working key. So all through school, I wore hoop earrings and I would keep the key on my earring.

The origins of “Nasty”

In Minneapolis, my friend and I were on our way—I had never taken a dance class so she had this great idea to take a dance class. We were staying downtown at a hotel, at a loft. And walking out of the hotel, there were 5 or 6 older guys and they just basically started messing with us. And I didn’t like it very much and I was pretty embarrassed and actually pretty upset. I came back to the studio that night and told Jimmy and Terry about what I experienced and it turned into the song “Nasty.”

Jimmy: That is a crazy story. Yeah, cause ‘My first name ain’t Baby.’

Janet: It’s Janet.

Jimmy: Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty. It’s the best.

During the interview, Janet also spoke about her son, Eissa Al Mana and his musical abilities.

“He’s three. He just turned three January 3. He loves music. Quest, as a matter fact, gave him a beautiful set, drum kit. He’s incredibly musical. First, it was the violin. This was at two. First, he chose the violin. He loves classical music. First day of school, he took the violin school. Third day of school, he says, ‘Mama, I want to take a cello to school.’ I said, ‘Baby, you don’t have a cello.’ He says, ‘I take one—turn my violin into a cello. Please, Mama.’ So my assistant Terry, she took a straw and taped it to the bottom of his violin. He loved it. He was posing. My other assistant Shanti said, ‘Eissa, you want a cello.’ She said ‘Who’s going to buy it for you?’ He says, ‘Mama.’ So he has a cello. He takes cello lessons. He loves his cello lessons.’

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