TGJ Replay: Jojo’s Self-Titled Debut Album

Published: Wednesday 30th Dec 2015 by Rashad
jojo debut album thatgrapejuice

Welcome back to TGJ Replay!

Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment to act as a written quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday. Unlike its TGJ retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.

This week, we’ll press play on the critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album of pint-size powerhouse Jojo:

Even in the absence of a record deal and full on backing, Joanna Levesque – affectionately nicknamed Jojo – was already making a name for herself belting out some of music’s most vocally challenging hits…before she could even ride a bike.  Appearing on a number of top-rated American television shows from ‘Maury’ and ‘Destination Stardom’ to ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’ and ‘The Rosie O’Donnell Show’ in her formative days (as seen above), the youngster was becoming a media darling on the wings of an uncanny vocal ability seasoned far beyond her years.

Catching the eyes and ears of media exec Vincent Herbert, Levesque was introduced to Blackground Records CEO Barry Hankerson, who – reports have it – was instantly impressed with the 12-year-old vocalist.  Likening her to his late niece/flagship artist Aaliyah (who was also 12 when he added to her the label), Hankerson quickly set up sessions with hitmaking producers The Underdogs (Harvey Mason, Jr.) and more.  With Herbert at the helm, ‘Jojo,’ her self titled debut album, was born.

America would finally get a much deserved taste in full of the budding teenager’s offerings with the set’s lead single ‘Leave (Get Out).’  Written by the preteen herself, the tune – on the instrumentation front – tip-toed on a very radio friendly line of teen pop and R&B.  On the vocal front, however, the singer’s stylings left many-a-listener jaw-dropped.  Quickly earning comparisons to the industry’s other blue-eyed/big-voiced diva, Christina Aguilera, Jojo’s soaring vocal displays and crisp melisma – like Aguilera’s – were finding welcome on both sides of the musical spectrum (pop and R&B).

Taking the song all the way to #12 on the Hot 100, the feisty single was certified gold less than 4 months after its debut and earned international success in a number of European markets. By the time her self-titled project hit stores in June of 2004, critics and fans alike were singing the praises of the prepubescent soulful songstress (a lauding that would help hoist the project to a #4 debut on the Billboard 200).

‘Weak’ Live (SWV remake)

Despite an album full of delectable Urban numbers (see:  ‘Homeboy,’ ‘Sunshine,’ ‘Breezy,’ etc.), Blackground opted to push the project’s pop’ier numbers in an attempt to avoid alienating the singer’s white mainstream fans.

Shortly after seeing her name listed aboard the ‘Best New Artist’ nods at the year’s MTV Video Music Awards (losing to Maroon 5),  Jojo and co. lifted its long-awaited second single, ‘Baby It’s You.’ Tapping pint-sized rap hitmaker Bow Wow to co-star, the Harvey Mason, Jr.-penned tune was launched to radio.

‘Baby It’s You’

Though failing to attract the fanfare of its predecessor, ‘Baby,’ which peaked at #22 on the Hot 100, did manage to nab a gold certification for exceeding 500,000 in sales.

Jojo Levesque Corloeur Dalle Photoshoot Paris, France 11/22/2004

Together, ‘Baby’ and its predecessor ‘Leave’ helped push their parent project right into platinum territoy (an impressive feat given the absence of push from the label).  Bursting onto the scene with ‘Leave,’ the potential for the project to be launched into the stratosphere was evident given the international response to the tune and, of course, the singer’s extraordinary talent.  The distance (in time) between the lead single and its follow-up, in conjunction with no single thereafter, lent the album an undue limited shelf-life.

But, as she would later learn, the lack of support would spell itself a mainstay during her tenure at Blackground.


All-in-all, ‘Jojo’ was not a defeated project. For, if all it did was introduce the masses to the gems of Ms. Levesque, that in itself was a win.  Now, as we await her third full length LP, we hope she returns to tip-toe on the very rhythmic pop line that brought her debut its acclaim over 10 years ago.

As we excuse ourselves to press play on our jam ‘Never Say Goodbye,’ you tell us:

Your thoughts?

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  1. maurice December 30, 2015

    Get Out was my ish in 2004 when I was 9
    Everybody was playing that in primary school.
    Then she came out with that joint with Bow Wow.
    I can’t believe she’s only like 25. I’m rooting for her man.

  2. Arfa December 30, 2015

    Aaliyahs bloody uncle murdered this poor girls career. I guess someone else in the family caught his karma.

    • Mariah’s little lamb December 30, 2015

      What does “i guess someone else in the family caught his karma” suppossed to mean?

      • Arfa December 30, 2015

        Are you dumb?

  3. RihYonce December 30, 2015

    So TGJ just gone ignore that Rihanna & Beyoncé are joining Coldplay for the superbowl? Y’all gotta get it together

    • King z December 30, 2015

      First off that’s just a rumor that’s yet been confirmed by a reputable source.

      Second this post ain’t about them.

      Third I love this album. Still bump it regularly. Never would’ve thought a teenage white girl would’ve given me so much life

  4. Navyboi88 December 30, 2015

    I love Jojo I hope she can make a come back.

  5. Lake Erie December 30, 2015

    I remember her era. I never got the album but her album was the big talk when I was in school. I liked every song she ever let off tho. I don’t think she was given a fair chance. Her career was pretty much sabotaged. She also had a “sound” which isn’t reminiscent in any of her new joints. I think her hardship sidetracked her from that. I hope something Big happens for her. She needs to be heard.

  6. Mariah’s little lamb December 30, 2015

    Yea this girls career got runied by a evil man but yall act like this girl was going to last for many years even if she wasnt signed to blackground she would have still fizzeled out she would have fizzled out no different then britney,xtina,3lw,blaque,aaron carter,mandy moore,jessica simpson,o town and the rest of the early 2000’s t*** pop acts

    • eric December 30, 2015

      You did not just mention O Town. LOL But no matter what we think may have happened with JoJo, she at least deserved a chance and would be in a better position to make a comeback like Christina did with “Say Something”.

  7. another taken day something ain’t wrong December 30, 2015

    She was the ish back in the day and was everywhere around the world today music business are totally different

  8. AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig December 31, 2015

    Love this album! I used to play this back in primary school during golden time 🙂

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