JoJo reveals Taylor Swift sympathized with her when she was unable to release music due to a years-long legal battle with her former label

By Jeff Nelson
May 04, 2020 02:40 PM
Advertisement

Pop stars stick together.

She just released her new album Good to Know. But JoJo reveals that when her career was put at a stand-still a few years ago due to a seemingly incessant legal battle with her former label, Taylor Swift sympathized with her.

After releasing her breakout smash "Leave (Get Out)" in 2004, JoJo became a pop music mainstay with her subsequent hits "Baby It's You" and "Too Little Too Late." But five years into her budding career, everything came to a record-scratching halt when she sued her former label (Da Family Records, an imprint of Blackground Records) over her contract.

jojo-2-wm
JoJo

During the lawsuit, JoJo wasn't able to release new music — and her record catalog (JoJo and The High Road) wasn't available to buy or stream. (Blackground also owns the rights to the late singer Aaliyah's albums, which are still not available for streaming.)

"It made me feel out of control, like a little girl, disempowered," JoJo recalls. "I felt confused. What I always come back to is, 'What could I be doing differently, and how is this my fault?' I guess it just makes me feel more in control to think like I must have done it. It was very hard for me to accept something that didn't make sense. Why would they not want to put out an album? They weren't putting out anybody's album. To this day, Aaliyah's music is not available on streaming services because they haven't done a deal with the streaming providers."

In 2013 JoJo finally reached a settlement with her former label, releasing her from her contract and allowing her to put out music again. She released Mad Love, her first album in a decade, in 2016. And in 2018, to reclaim her voice, JoJo rerecorded her masters and rereleased her first albums in 2018.

"A way that I was able to change that narrative in the last couple years was by starting my own company [Clove Music]," she says. "I had to go on YouTube when I was making these rerecords just to listen to my old albums because I didn't remember. I released these new masters of my first two albums because I was tired of seeing people being like, 'Why did you take your albums down from Spotify?' They were never there. I would never do that. Why would I be a weirdo and want to erase my history? That makes no sense. I like money; I like people to be able to go back and have access to my songs whenever they want."

jojo
JoJo
| Credit: Doug Krantz

During the lawsuit, JoJo spent time with Taylor Swift, whom she met through mutual friends. (For the uninitiated, here are the degrees of separation: JoJo is close pals with Francia Raisa, best friend of Selena Gomez, who is of course BFFs with Swift.)

“A few years ago, Taylor had me over her house, actually. She was just like, 'I can't believe everything you're going through. This is so f—ed up, so wrong, blah, blah, blah,'" JoJo recalls of their hangout. "And of course, she couldn't have ever known that she would go through something similar where her catalog was bought from her."

Indeed, last year, Swift nemesis Scooter Braun purchased her former label, Big Machine Records, and with it masters of her first six albums. Swift has said she plans to re-record her masters, like JoJo did.

Jojo and Taylor Swift
JoJo; Taylor Swift
| Credit: Getty(2)

"But our situations were actually quite different," JoJo says. “I was literally being completely silenced. Taylor is in a different position in her career. I was really sidelined, and it was pretty hurtful. I don't think that her career is suffering because of whatever happened. They're still available on streaming services; that's the difference."

Adds JoJo: “I'm on the side of these women. But, at the end of the day, the situation between her and Scooter is vastly different than what I was going through with Blackground. To be honest, I don't have any problem with Scooter Braun. I think he's a really smart man — but it does suck to feel like you are not in control of your own s—.”

JoJo cover art for new album: Good To Know
JoJo’s Good to Know album art

Today, JoJo is back in control. On Friday, she dropped her acclaimed fourth album, Good to Know, a sensual collection of R&B slow-burns.

"When I was younger, I thought that what was sexy was men wanting to have sex with me, and that's not what I find sexy anymore. What I think is sexy, men might not like at all — but if it makes me feel good, I'm into it," she says of the energy she channels in the LP. "That confidence really reverberates. It’s very powerful.”

For more from JoJo, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.