After signing a recording contract with A&M in 1982, she came to prominence following the release of her third studio album Control (1986). Her collaborations with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis incorporated elements of pop, rhythm and blues, funk, disco, rap, and industrial beats, which led to crossover appeal in popular music. In addition to receiving recognition for the innovation in her records, choreography, music videos, and prominence on radio airplay and MTV, she was acknowledged as a role model for her socially conscious lyrics.
In 1991, she signed the first of two record-breaking, multi-million dollar contracts with Virgin Records, establishing her as one of the highest paid artists in the industry. Her debut album under the label, Janet (1993), saw her develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her work. That same year, she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice; since then she has continued to act in feature films. By the end of the 1990s, Billboard named her the second most successful recording artist of the decade, following Mariah Carey. She has amassed an extensive catalog of hits, with singles such as "Nasty", "Rhythm Nation", "That's the Way Love Goes", "Together Again", and "All for You" her most iconic.
Having sold over 100 million records, she is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States, with 26 million certified albums. In 2008, Billboard magazine released its list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, ranking her at number seven. In 2010, the magazine announced the "Top 50 R&B / Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years", ranking her at number five. One of the world's most awarded artists, her longevity, records and achievements reflect her influence in shaping and redefining the scope of popular music. She has been cited as an inspiration among numerous performers.
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