Pursuing a career in the music industry isn’t an easy feat. Even if it’s off to a good start, it can end up being riddled with hurdles to overcome, shady label situations, and even overwhelming moments of doubt. While daunting, none of these factors were enough to deter music icon Joanna Levesque from following her musical passions and turning them into an artistically abundant career.
Most of us found out about the Massachusetts native when she released her smash debut single “Leave (Get Out)” at the age of 13, that earned her the title of the youngest solo artist to have a #1 single in the U.S. Following “Leave (Get Out)”, Jo released another popular single from her debut album, “Baby It’s You” and continued building momentum and increasing her loyal fan base. Her success continued with the release of her sophomore album The High Road in 2006, that spawned the iconic singles “Too Little, Too Late” and “How to Touch a Girl”.
After the release of The High Road, Jo ran into issues with her label at the time, Blackground Records, and she was unable to release music commercially, but that didn’t stop her from fighting hard and continuing to pursue her passion. While dealing with the contractual issues with Blackground, Jo released two mixtapes, Can’t Take That Away From Me and Agápe (in addition to a couple of singles), to hold fans over and to show how she had grown as an artist over the years. These projects not only gave fans the music they longed for, but acted as an outlet for Jo to continuing expressing herself and bringing light to things that we all face as we become adults.
In 2014, it was revealed that JoJo had finally gotten out of her sticky situation with Blackground, and signed a deal with Atlantic Records. Fans and fellow artists alike were ecstatic to know that one of the most raw, powerful, and honest voices in the industry had finally won the 7 year long battle with her former label. Jo wasted no time getting back in the studio and cooking up some sonic treats for all to hear.
Shortly after signing to Atlantic, Jo released an EP entitled #LoveJo that was released on Valentine’s Day in 2014 via Soundcloud. The 4 track EP includes covers of classic tracks like Anita Baker’s “Caught Up in the Rapture” and Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home”, as well as JoJo’s rendition of “Glory”, inspired by opera singer Kathleen Battle.
In August of 2015, JoJo sent music lovers into a frenzy when she dropped her collection of 3 singles, that she dubbed a “tringle”, entitled III. The project featured the tracks “When Love Hurts”, “Save My Soul”, and “Say Love”. The “tringle” quickly climbed the iTunes charts and showed that no matter how long Jo may have been away, her supporters aren’t going anywhere. III. truly showed how much Jo studied her craft and put every fiber of her being into making the sure that her music still resonates with listeners.
After going on tour and working her ass off in the studio for months on top of months, the moment we were all waiting for came to fruition on October 14th, 2016: JoJo’s 3rd studio album, Mad Love, was released to critical acclaim and incredibly positive fan reception. The Massachusetts native came back with vengeance and she once again demonstrated just why she is such a precious gemstone in this industry.
There isn’t a single weak or mediocre track on Mad Love, and I’m not saying that simply because I adore JoJo. From start to finish, this work of artistic excellence delivers fresh track after fresh track while simultaneously displaying Jo’s growth as an artist and woman over the years.
Mad Love is more than just an album – it’s a sonic masterpiece that manages to conjure up various emotions and give listeners an inside look as to who Joanna Levesque really is.
Whether it’s sassy, bad ass tracks like “High Heels” and “FAB (feat Remy Ma)” or more vulnerable tracks like “I Am” and “Music”, Mad Love has something for every music lover. The lyrical content, production values, and vocal demonstrations all come together to deliver a superb LP for JoJo to add to her catalog of hits.
I’m beyond happy that JoJo has stayed persistent and didn’t let past label issues get the best of her. This woman’s drive and hunger to create art that touches the masses is incomparable, and her silly and confident personality and support of her fellow artists only adds to her dopeness. This is her time to shine and I’m beyond ready for her to be back on top where she belongs.
Jo’s journey goes to show that even though you may face extreme hardships when traveling on the road to success, it’s possible to triumph over adversity and come out on top. Jo is an inspiration not only to fellow artists, but to her supporters as well due to her unrelenting willpower and determination to make her voice be heard. JoJo has been my favorite artist since that first album dropped over 10 years ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much more she’ll accomplish within the next decade.