Many an artist's career has been derailed by label politics, and the failure of companies and the people who work at them has, sadly, been the cause of too many hiatuses. One such incredibly talented person who was forced to put her career on hold (much against her wishes) was pop singer JoJo, who had quickly become one of the most talked about starlets in the mid-aughts.
The teenage singer scored a number of hit singles--"Leave (Get Out)," "Baby, It's You" and "Too Little Too Late" to name her biggest successes on the charts--and both of her albums performed very well, but when her label started facing issues, JoJo's time in the spotlight was put on hold.
Now, she's back, and her fans have not gone anywhere. The pop star recently re-recorded and re-released her first two full-lengths, which were also tied up in label drama and which weren't available anywhere. Now, fans can finally listen to the music they love, and JoJo can move on with her life and her career.
Your career is in a different place now. You put out an album two years ago and you're touring, so was it weird to go back in the studio with this material that's been with you for so long, and work on it again?
JoJo: Yeah, It's definitely weird. I had no real reference point. This is kind of just out of necessity and wanting to, like I said, come up with a solution for the fact that it looks like I came out in 2016, if we're seeing the only album that's on streaming, which is Mad Love.
It was interesting essentially covering my first two albums. The first that I made when I was 12, and the second when I was 14 and 15. It was definitely cathartic in ways that I didn't know I needed it to be. It was almost like I was a different person then, and I was this wise, precocious little girl, teaching myself, encouraging myself as a woman in my 20s now. Like, when I re-recorded the song I wrote when I was 12, “Keep On Keepin' On,” that was a message that I needed to hear in that moment when I re-recorded it last year. And it was really cool to connect with that little girl and remember how excited I was and how genuine my passion is and was for music before I had all the experiences that I've had in the industry.
Have you heard from someone at Blackground now that these albums are out?
JoJo: No. As far as I know they're not a record label, they're defunct. Last I heard... Yeah, I don't think they're doing that anymore, so, no I haven't heard from anybody.
Do you wonder what the people who worked on these albums originally and who were involved think about this re-release?
JoJo: I do, too. I'm very curious. I really do, too. You know, I'm sure they were surprised. I'm the type of person that I hate not having a solution for something and I hate feeling like my future or my... Like I'm not in the captain's seat of my existence.
I had to do something. I couldn't allow my career to be at the mercy of these people who clearly don't care about me.
Do you know the background regarding the legality of these albums? You had to figure out, if you could get the lyrics and who had to sign off. How difficult was that, do you know?
JoJo: Well I know that we had the help of my distributor and the people who work at my lawyer's firm and Katie, who's my manager. They were all on top of it and making sure that the people that collaborated on these songs, that made them, the writers and the producers, everybody involved originally would be compensated on the publishing side.
Now, there's no way to go back and make up for the money that they could have made all those years that it wasn't streaming, but we wanted to make sure that they have the proper credit, but that they will get publishing from streaming.
Now that it's out, now that all your music is out and you're in a different place career-wise, do you have any expectations for what these songs might do streaming-wise? Changing your career? Do you have any idea what this project will actually do?
JoJo: The intention behind this wasn't to change my career or have this be... I really honestly didn't want to make that big of a deal out of it. I just wanted to put these songs out and keep moving, because that's always my main objective. Just keep moving, stay in motion.
For so long I was tied down and could not move, so this was kind of like a final clearing of energy and creating a space for me and a final nod to that chapter. And to feel like I was in control of my catalog, my history, my masters. I just wanted to make a boss move. I started a joint venture with Warner Brothers called Clover Music, and I signed myself to it and then chose, yeah, to take that to Warner Brothers. And, I just, I think it was an experience that helped me, like I had mentioned, free up some space to feel in control in the next chapter.
You dropped this as a surprise—what have you been hearing from fans about this?
JoJo: That they're excited that they can listen to these songs and they're like, "I can't believe you actually listened!" Because I would respond to their comments and be like, "There's nothing I can do. It's out of my control." Blah, blah, blah. They could probably feel my exasperation, my frustration. And they were like, "I can't believe you did this." And I kind of can't believe I did it either. It was definitely something that I put up the money for upfront and it was just a little surprise for them at the end of the year. And it seems like they're digging it, so that's all I wanted.
Photo Credit JoJo