Yesterday on Instagram, JoJo announced she amicably left her label Atlantic Records.
To be honest, I’m not at all surprised at this. She’s mentioned on numerous occasions that she didn’t feel she was able to have as much creative control as she hoped. In London during her gig at KoKo, she seemed annoyed that she couldn’t tell fans if the label would issue another single from Mad Love, her first album in 10 years.
So despite Atlantic being the label that gave her the opportunity to finally release her third album after years of being trapped by Blackground Records, home girl didn’t feel in control and I don’t blame her for leaving.
What now then? Well, she’s inked a new imprint with Interscope called Clover Records, where she will (hopefully) have greater say and ownership over her music.
To mark this I wanted to look back at some of the music JoJo put out during her years battling freedom from Blackground Records. Despite the situation being absolutely awful, it’s the period where she had the greatest control over her sound and image.
It’s also a chance for you to hear some JoJo songs you probably never even knew existed.
JoJo – Marvin’s Room (Can’t Do Better)
Let me start with the obvious one here. In the spring of 2011 JoJo uploaded her own version of Drake’s song Marvin’s Room, from his sophomore album Take Care.
The audio has 40+ million views on YouTube, gave us the greatest kiss-off lyric known to humankind – ‘And when you’re in her, I know I’m in your head’, and inspired everyone from Paula DeAnda and Chris Brown to try their hand at their own versions.
In some respects this was her ‘Dirrty’ moment where she was able to make that transition from innocent pop girl to grown ass woman.
JoJo – Boy Without a Heart
Taken from her first mixtape, Can’t Take That Away From Me, JoJo penned this heartfelt ballad about a fuck boy who, you guessed it, breaks her heart.
This is also a fan favourite when she performs it on tour and the way her voice just soars near the end still gives me chills.
JoJo- Keep Forgetting (To Forget About You)
Rumour has it that this was meant to be the first single from JoJo’s third album when it was originally expected in 2008. The album was going to be called ‘All I Want Is Everything’, but as we all know she ran into label issues and this first incarnation of the album was leaked on YouTube.
This feels like the proper follow-up to Too Little Too Late and would have completed the trilogy of fuck-boy anthems quite nicely. Compared to the JoJo of today the lyrics sound a bit juvenile but she was 17/18 years old at the time so she gets a pass, and to be honest this song still goes OFF.
JoJo – In The Dark
Another one taken from Can’t Take That Away From Me, this moody mid-tempo captures the feeling of being in a no strings attached arrangement and the point when you start to catch feelings.
The use of auto-tune is definitely not needed but it was the early 2010’s and everyone else was doing it. It also helps elevate the dark and somewhat cold vibe of the song.
JoJo – Andre
Fast-forward to 2012 and JoJo released her second mixtape Agapè. The first song from the project was We Get By, but Andre was the real standout from the tape.
Inspired by her love for Andre 3000, I’m convinced this song would have been such a huge radio hit. The pop infused RnB production, the nagging Ah-Ah-Ah Andre chorus and her voice all worked together so well.
She also filmed this entire video using her own money!
JoJo – Demonstrate
The fact this song never got an official single release will irk me till the end of time. It was initially earmarked as JoJo’s lead single from the second (or third) incarnation of her third album. There was even a video shot where JoJo was going to swing off a goddamn chandelier well before Sia made it a thing. But it was never released.
Produced by Drake’s right-hand man 40 Shebib, Demonstrate is GROWN JoJo. Her irresistibly sexy lower register also felt like a throwback to 90s Brandy and Aaliyah.
I also realised not long ago the line ‘I leave the door open wide, with hopes that you would sneak inside’ means something completely different to what I originally thought.
JoJo – Thinking Out Loud
To many people Agapè is JoJo’s creative peak and I low-key agree. She recorded it in six days with a bunch of friends, was high for most the recording process and had free reign to do anything she wanted.
With just her voice and piano, this gorgeous song and tells the story of running into an ex and having all those feelings flooding back in that very moment.
This version is just over a minute long and while she did put the full version of the song on her LoveJo EP, the spark the shorter version has was missing. I’ll let you be the judge of it, but I’ve always preferred this version.
JoJo – Wonder Woman
Technically this song was only uploaded online last month and came after she left Blackground and released Mad Love, so it isn’t a purgatory bop as such.
That said, this sounds like JoJo at her most comfortable and RnB really is where she excels. If this is a sign of what’s to come from her new deal with Interscope then I am definately here for it.