JoJo rose to fame in 2004 when she was only 13 with her breakthrough hit Leave (Get Out). That paved the way for her debut self-titled album to sell over 5 million copies across the world, establishing her as one of the brightest new female artists in the industry. Two years later she scored a huge hit with Too Little, Too Late, the first single from second album The High Road. That album added another 3 million worldwide sales to JoJo’s already impressive tally and it looked like she was going to be one of the biggest stars in the world.
Since 2006 JoJo has been locked in various legal battles with her former label and despite releasing a few mixtapes, she hasn’t released a full-length record in a decade. During that time many false starts occurred with the singer recording plenty of material but being unable to release much, if any, of it. Last summer JoJo released III, an EP featuring three singles that started to build buzz around her music again. Now signed to Atlantic Records, JoJo is finally releasing her third studio album Mad Love.
The first taster from Mad Love was the feisty Fuck Apologies featuring Wiz Khalifa. It’s a bold return for the star who was last riding high in the charts as a child. She’s now 25 and the last decade has given her plenty to talk about in her music. Fuck Apologies is a call for people to stand up and pay attention to an artist, who by rights should be one of the biggest in the world right now. JoJo’s powerful vocals are present and she has a gritty edge to her voice that has no doubt come through maturing and getting plenty of life experience under her belt.
Mad Love’s opening track Music catches you off-guard. The gentle piano ballad serves to put JoJo’s distinctive vocal in the spotlight reminding her fans of why she was such a big star 10 years ago. She possesses a range that puts her in the category of big singers such as Christina Aguilera and Ariana Grande. Music is an ode to the struggle that JoJo has had getting to this album release and it’s an homage to her late father who sadly passed away in 2015. The track drips with emotion and it’s a stirring start.
For the majority of Mad Love, the tempo is mid and the beats are R&B/pop. JoJo is sticking in a similar arena to her previous albums but the content of her music is more adult reflecting her maturity and life experiences. FAB (Fake Ass Bitches) features Remy Ma is one of a handful of middle finger salutes on the record and finds JoJo waving a firm goodbye to hangers on and people who have tried to drag her down.
Alessia Cara features on the stuttering R&B jam I Can Only, Vibe celebrates layers tropical beats for one of the more uptempo moments on the record, and Edibles sees the singer embracing her sexuality. On album highlight High Heels, JoJo catches her lover cheating on her and serves up enough straight-talking to rival Beyonce’s Lemonade album.
The album comes to a close as it started, with a piano ballad. I Am is stark and honest moment with JoJo battling insecurities exploring the pressure she feels and the pressure she puts on herself. The chorus switches from confidence to self-doubt and JoJo’s vocal soars really showcasing what she’s capable of as a vocalist.
Mad Love is a welcome return for one of the world’s most gifted female vocalists. It’s been a long time coming but it’s worth the wait. At times the album suffers from being a little samey but to be honest I’m so glad to have JoJo back, that I can overlook that. Mad Love perhaps lacks the potential monster hits that JoJo enjoyed at the start of her career but for the first time you get to hear her real voice and thoughts, and that’s enough to recommend you listen to this album.
Track Listing: 1. Music. 2. I Can Only. (feat Alessia Cara) 3. Fuck Apologies. (feat Wiz Khalifa) 4. FAB. (feat Remy Ma) 5. Mad Love. 6. Vibe. 7. Honest. 8. Like This. 9. Edibles 10. High Heels. 11. I Am. Record Company: Atlantic Records Release Date: 14th October 2016