Justin Timberlake Sheds Light on Janet Jackson Super Bowl Debacle, Collaborating with Pharrell Williams

by Chanel Peykar

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Last night, Justin Timberlake held a listening party to preview his new album Man Of The Woods, which will be released February 2, just two days before he makes his return to the Superbowl halftime show. The event was forest-themed, much in-tune with the singer’s “back to nature” description of the album, although Timberlake forwarded the session by jokingly stating, “I’m not going to go all Ray LaMontagne.” 

While only one track has been released to date, JT sat down with Zane Lowe prior to the full show's Jan. 18 release to discuss what to expect from MOTW, the Janet Jackson controversy, and his disappointing lack of collaboration with Pharrell Williams since his debut album Justified.

Those concerned about a shift towards a more experimental genre will be happy to hear the album is primarily the same pop/R&B Timberlake-esque sound fans are expecting, albeit with vocals that have a slightly more distinct country melody. 

When Lowe brought up the highly controversial Janet Jackson debacle in 2004, now aptly named NippleGate, Timberlake confirmed that it was lightly discussed when the NFL chose him to return for a second Super Bowl performance.

“To be honest, it wasn’t too much of a conversation,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where you go, like, ‘Yeah, what do you want me to say? We’re not going to do that again!’” 

Even further, he states that he and Janet have since made peace. “Absolutely. And I don’t know that a lot of people know that.”

Lowe also got Timberlake to shed some light on why it had taken over a decade for him to collaborate again with The Neptunes (Pharrell's production duo with Chad Hugo), citing it mostly to label drama, which made him unable to work with any Jive artist. 

“If I’m being totally honest about it, I was extremely hurt being caught up in the middle of it,” he continued, “but at the same time I had a s—load of money stolen from me by somebody else when I was in ['N'Sync], I had already gone through legal troubles, and I kind of felt like I’m at this point where I feel like I have so much ahead of me, I don’t want to be in the middle of the record label and somebody that I consider a friend. So I feel like I kind of removed myself from the situation.”

Justin’s interview with Zane Lowe will air Thursday, January 18 at 10 a.m. PT on Beats 1.