JoJo - Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes Tour

Monqui Presents

JoJo - Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes Tour

Malia Civetz

Mon, June 4

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Wonder Ballroom

Portland, OR

$25.00 - $28.00

This event is all ages

JoJo is resilient. That’s the message that comes through loud and clear when you
listen to Mad Love., her debut album with Atlantic Records and her first LP in ten
years. She’s empowered. She’s in control. And she’s grown as hell.
You can hear it in her Wiz Khalifa-assisted lead single, “Fuck Apologies.” It’s a
powerful statement of intent that announces to the world that the singer-songwriter
isn’t going to let anyone make her feel small.
“As a woman, I find myself apologizing for things that I really don’t need to
apologize for,” JoJo says. “Even as simple as when someone bumps into you.”
She laughs. “Guess what? I’m not sorry you bumped into me. Overall, though,
the song to me is an anthem of empowerment. It’s about being confident and
comfortable enough with who you are to live unapologetically.”
Themes of hard-won independence and strength are vividly realized on Mad Love.,
which swerves from slinky alt-R&B to exultant pop bangers and back again. It’s no
surprise, given that JoJo, now 25, had a heavy hand in writing the entire album after
first attempting to cut tracks penned by outsiders.
“I was starting to lose myself in the process of being sent songs,” she says. “But
I stood up and remembered that I’m a songwriter, and I want to be heard.”
Truly finding her voice was a journey that’s taken a lifetime. Born Joanna Levesque
and raised in Massachusetts, she notched a #1 hit on the Billboard Pop Songs chart
with her debut single, “Leave (Get Out),” when she was only 13; she was the
youngest solo artist to have a #1 single in the U.S. She followed it up with a string of
additional singles, most notably “Too Little Too Late,” another Top 3 smash, and the
hit album The High Road in 2006. “Being a child star is a weird thing because
your identity is put onto you,” she says. “As much of an individual as I was, I
still had a lot of cooks in the kitchen telling me where to go and how to dress
and what songs to record.”
It didn’t help that she was trapped in a deal with a label that was defunct, which
kept her from releasing music commercially. As the years passed, she earned a
devoted following online releasing free mixtapes featuring tracks from top
hitmakers like Boi-1da, Chad Hugo of the Neptunes and Da Internz. She
collaborated, too, with the producer Noah “40” Shebib on her critically acclaimed
single, “Demonstrate”, and had guest features on Timbaland’s Shock Value 2 and
Pharrell Williams’ Grammy-nominated album G I R L. She was finally liberated from
her contract in 2013 after 2 lawsuits and seven years of limbo and signed anew with
In 2015, she released a critically acclaimed trio of singles—she called it a “tringle”—
to give fans a first taste of the sound she’d been developing with tunesmiths such as
Harmony Samuels, Benny Blanco, Wayne Hector and Jason Evigan. Ever prolific, she
recorded dozens of songs. But a series of major life events—including the passing of
her beloved father and a break-up—inspired her to start fresh at the top of 2016
when conceptualizing the vibe of her first studio album in a decade. Life was too
short and she wanted to be in the driver’s seat. “After losing my father and
breaking up with my boyfriend,” she says, “I realized: I cannot keep listening
to the opinions of others.” So she started writing again. “I needed it to come
from my pen, in a way I would say it,” she says. “I felt like my spirit would die if
I didn’t come across with my own point of view. It just poured out of me.”
It comes as no surprise, then, that there’s so much authenticity and vitality in Mad
Love.; it’s a document of a young woman finding her way in the world. She’s
vulnerable on the opening track “Music,” a spare piano ballad that allows the singer
to show off her spine-chilling vocal chops as she recalls her blue-collar roots and
pays homage to her late father. “Usually I’m crazily obsessive about chasing my best
performance when I’m cutting vocals,” she says. “But for ‘Music,’ I put my
perfectionist ego aside and did a couple takes all the way through, singing through
my tears. The emotion was more important to me than anything else.” She’s
emotional, too, on the haunting “I Am,” the only song from her earlier sessions to
make the album. “This song is my mantra,” she says.”
But she turns up the volume on the self-empowering Alessia Cara-assisted “I Can
Only”, asks a male suitor to politely stop killing her vibe on the head-nodding
uptempo “Vibe”, and demolishes the hater-industrial complex on “FAB”, (which
stands for Fake Ass Bitches) featuring Remy Ma. For devotees of the woozy R&B
slow jams from her JoJo’s mixtapes, there’s something here too—namely “Edibles,” a
sultry ode to cannabis consumption that’s bound to be a fan favorite. And on the
swooning, doo-wop-inspired title track, the singer commits so fully to retro soul she
sounds transported from another era.
If it sounds like there’s a lot of ground covered here, there is—which is exactly what
JoJo wanted. She called the album Mad Love. because it’s the first thing that feels like
it’s 100% her voice. “This album is passionate, crazy, vulnerable and all about
the thing that keeps us going—love,” she says. “It’s inspired by the music I
grew up listening to—and like my generation, refuses to be put in a box. I tried
so many things along the way, but I realized I needed to be true to myself and
do this on my own terms.”
Now, she’s ready to turn it over to the fans who have stuck with her after a full
decade of challenges. “I don’t want them to experience me,” she says. “I want
them to experience themselves. This music is for you. Listen to this in your car,
do your workout with it, get ready to it, cry to it. It comes from my life, but it’s
not for me anymore.” She smiles. “It’s for everyone.”