While fans the world over rejoice in the re-release of Aaliyah’s back catalog, several other acts on the new-minted Blackground 2.0 roster are also seeing their music return to the light of day. In addition to Aaliyah, Blackground Records CEO also helped break the likes of Timbaland, Tank, and R&B/pop sensation Jojo. Jojo has possibly the most heartbreaking experience with Blackground because not only did they hold her debut and sophomore albums hostage, but they also kept Jojo trapped in a recording contract that silenced her powerful voice for almost a decade.
Joanna Noëlle Levesque was only 13 years old when she became a household name. She was one of the youngest artists in American history to score a number 1 record. Her debut single “Leave (Get Out)” was a staple on radio and early 00’s music video countdowns.
The powerhouse from Boston found success after years of hitting the talent show circuit as a little girl. She eventually caught the eye of Barry Hankerson, who signed her to Blackground Records, home of Aaliyah, Timbaland, Tank, and Toni Braxton, for a brief moment. “Leave (Get Out)” was followed by her self-titled debut album. She then managed to score big a second with “Too Little Too Late” and its parent album High Road.
Things seemed to be looking up for Jojo at this point, as she began to pop up in films and television shows in prep for her third studio album. Blackground began to express “concerns” to Jojo about her appearance, putting the singer on a strict diet regimen in order to prep for her next body of work. In 2020 Jojo spoke to Uproxx about this period of her life and how it sent her on a downward spiral. “I ended up getting put with a nutritionist who had me on a 500-calorie-a-day diet,” she said. “I was on these injections that make you have no appetite.”
However, after recording over 100 songs, it seemed Blackground was not willing to let her release music. She found out her label had burned a lot of bridges and lost the resources to support her. Unfortunately, they were not willing to let her out of her deal either. Jojo says this lead her into a spiral. “I needed to be buzzed to feel ok.” In one part of the interview, she says “I should be dead”.
Lawyers assisting her at the time told her that the contract she’d signed with Blackground was ironclad and that she would never get out of it. In order to keep busy and connect with fans, she began releasing a series of mixtapes and doing small tours on her own to make ends meet. Eventually, a clause was found to get her out of the deal, and Jojo was able to move on and start fresh over at Warner music. In 2018, she re-released her debut and sophomore albums with new vocals to earn some money and so that fans could have access to that music.
When Blackground 2.0 announced JoJo’s album would be re-released, Jojo was quick to let fans know that a stream on the original versions of her first two albums, unfortunately, does not put any money in her pocket. “never telling you what to do, but so that you know – a stream of the re-recorded 2018 version supports me and helps me continue to do what I love. Streaming the original unfortunately does not,” she told a fan on Twitter. Her back catalog is scheduled to hit streaming on September 24th. Jojo has a new album titled Trying Not to Think About It dropping 10/1.
thanks for the love babe 🥰🤍 never telling you what to do, but just so you know – a stream of the re-recorded 2018 version supports me and helps me continue to do what I love. streaming the original unfortunately does not. https://t.co/pYL0W8glEz— JoJo. (@iamjojo) August 5, 2021