TSG Evolution - JoJo Levesque (Newly Signed to Atlantic Records)
What a hell of a ride Ms Levesque has been on in the past few years! One of few artists who has managed to manoeuvre herself from teen star to genuine adult chart contender, JoJo confirmed the amazing news last week that she had finally been released from her record deal with Blackground. The same label who made Aaliyah a star had been holding the “Leave (Get Out)” singer hostage in a legal battle over the lack of support they have been giving to her career. But let’s not dwell on all the drama and take a look at how and why this good news has pop and alt RnB heads alike salivating at the prospect of a new JoJo project.
With it’s colourful video and undeniable hook, “Leave (get Out)” earned JoJo the title as the youngest ever performer to reach number one on a Billboard chart. The pop RnB cut saw the, then 13 year old star display those killer pipes which drew fans from not only her own peer group but those much older. What a tune!
With two platinum singles under her belt and various movie roles JoJo showed little sign of slowing down with the release of sophomore album “The High Road”. Lead single “Too Little Too Late” went on to repeat the success of its predecessors clocking in at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. This, it seems is where the problems began for the singer as no other video was released to support the project and promotion was evidently absent. Despite the lack of work from the label JoJo managed to secure another hit in the form of the Toto sampling “Anything”.
If at first you fail…
By 2011 we had starting hearing rumblings of JoJo being unhappy at her label. Despite this she stuck to the formula that had clearly been working for her. With a guitar heavy first single off a promised new album, “Disaster” made its debut to great radio numbers and interest from fans. However, all wasn’t to go to plan with a video delay and JoJo seemingly invisible to mainstream media. It’s a shame as the song has hit written all over it and clearly her talent had only grown during her downtime.
For those of us who are fans of the singer the emergence of “Disaster” however welcomed did feel a little out of place. The singer was clearly a huge fan of some real soul stirring music (see Jill Scott and D’Angelo) and has some proper pipes on her so to hear her on something so poppy seemed a little, well, un-expected. After all the frustration she was experiencing behind the scenes the 21 year old singer had clearly had enough and decided to release, for free, the single- “Demonstrate”. What could probably be hailed as her most daring move yet she stripped herself of the teeny bopper image with the sexy alt RnB cut produced by Grammy winning production BOSS Noah “40” Shebib. Blackground Records tried to play catch up after the singles success and set an official release date and even shot a video- all of which did very little in terms of gaining much mainstream ground for the singer. But it worked perfectly for JoJo as an artist- repositioning her in the new wave of RnB internet darlings. Sidenote: this is the follow up to “Motivation” Kelly Rowland would have killed for.
The new found liberation looked good on JoJo and despite the too and fro with her label she kept on full steam ahead and set about collating her own body of work- - “Agape”. The EP was released to absolute fanfare by her existing fans and had alt-RnB fans jumping for joy at their new favourite artist. The grown project found Ms Levesque team those soulful influences she constantly references with her pop sensibilities and stellar vocals. My personal favourite happens to be the single “Andre”- what can I say, it’s my personal anthem!