29-year-old singer, JoJo has been vocal in the past about her issues with substance abuse. However in a new interview with Uproxx, she reflects on her early career, in which she became the youngest solo artist to reach number one with her hit, “Leave (Get Out),” at the young age of 13.
However, she revealed that after issues with her record label prevented her from releasing a third album, she turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope.
“I Should Be Dead.”
“There were definitely nights that I stumbled out of clubs and that I blacked out. I was just completely reckless, did not care,” she said. “I needed to be buzzed to feel okay. I would go to the edge, stand on my tiptoes on the edge and then come back. I should be dead.”
The singer added: “My dad was an addict and I refused to end up like that. I did not want to do that. I would have ended up like my dad, just going to sleep one day and not waking up. Because life is hard, not coming from a cushy situation where I can run home to mommy and daddy and go home. Where is that for me?”
In the same interview, JoJo spoke about the extreme lengths she went to as a teenager to appease her former record label, including eating just 500 calories a day.
The singer was initial courted by Blackground Records’ founder Barry Hankerson, who was late singer, Aaliyah’s uncle. “He started that label for her because she was so young that nobody would sign her.” she stated, “but hearing about how he had made Aaliyah into the icon she was, we were obviously really interested in that.”
She said of the early days. “My label got my mom a car, an apartment, and I had my own room for the first time.” She recalled, “they felt like family to us, and I think that’s what both my mom and I were really longing for deep down. Both of us come from very unstable family situations and they really appealed to that within us – that we were creating something that was going to last forever.
Going to Extreme Lengths.
However, as she got older, pressures to maintain her looks by her record label made her go to extreme lengths.
“When I was 18 I remember being sat down in the Blackground office and the president of the label being like, ‘We just want you to look as healthy as possible.’ The singer continued: “And I was like, ‘I’m actually the picture of health. I look like a healthy girl who eats and is active. I don’t think this is about my health. I think that you want me to be really skinny.’
“He’s like, ‘No, I wouldn’t say that.'”
The 29-year-old singer added: “I ended up working with a nutritionist who had me on a 500-calorie diet a day. I was taking these injections that make you have no appetite.”
Jojo’s success ultimately stopped at a standstill when her label refused to release new music when she began pursuing other careers in film and television. She then fired her mother as her manager, and described the relationship, “…it became very, very unhealthy for her. I was really concerned that it was just going to kill her if she continued on. That was the hardest thing of my entire life up to that point.”
Calling the battle with her record label “incredibly upsetting,” Jojo said she blamed her appearance for the label’s punishment.
“I Want To Create A Legacy.”
As her music career stood at standstill, her own father was battling addiction and passed away in 2015. At that time the singer decided to take legal action against her record label. In 2009, the singer and the label settled. “I didn’t get any money. I didn’t get any damages or anything like that. I just walked away being able to sign another record contract. I was like, ‘Let’s go!’ I was free,” she said of the settlement.
The singer re-recorded her first two albums and singles owned by Blackground and went on to launch her own record label through a partnership with Warner Records. Her next album, Good to Know, drops this spring.
In Jojo’s own words, “This journey has been a journey of learning how to love myself. I feel really lucky, really, really grateful for the longevity that I have and for the resilience that I do have. But I work on it every day. I want to create a life for myself and I want to create a legacy.”