Bleu Bombshell: Translucent Brown Sugar
JoJo came on the scene in 2004 at the age of thirteen with her hit single, “Get out Leave.” Fans were blown away with the thunderous voice that came out of such a small frame. She returned in 2006 with the hit single, “Too Little Too Late,” lifted from her sophomore release, The High Road. Fans did not hear from JoJo again until 2010 when she released her mixtape, Can’t Take That Away From Me, the break out single was, “In the Dark,” where she sings about having a lover that she only has a physical relationship with, and feeling conflicted about it. June 2011, introduced the world to a very different JoJo through her cover of Drake’s, “Marvin’s Room,” which became a viral hit. Noah “40” Shebib, the original producer of the drake crafted cut, heard JoJo’s cover and produced her single, “Demonstrate. “ On her 22nd birthday JoJo released her latest project, Agape.
JoJo shows us that she is ready to take charge on this new release. Agape, is a thirty-minute voyage into the woman she has become. The music is reminiscent of the 90’s when R&B ruled the scene, with its melodic beats and hypnotic lyrics. JoJo states she strived to be, “transparent and expose her fans to who she really is.” She takes no prisoners and if a few F bombs have to be dropped in the process so be it.
Even with all of its strength what is most endearing about, Agape, is JoJo’s vulnerability. The introduction of, Agape, finds by explaining it took twenty-two years to find herself and how now she trusts her own voice to speak for her. What does she have to say? Well in, “Take the Canyon,” she talks about rendezvousing with a secret love in, “White Girl in Paris,” she talks about living a life without the pressures of the people in her life asking for favors, and feeling truly free. In, “We Get By,” she talks about the optimism she feels though she is dealing with trials and tribulations with her current label. In, “Can’t handle the Truth,” she sings, “If you could handle the truth, I’d never lie to you. So busy loving yourself leaves no room for anyone else.”
Agape, was recorded at her friend Austin Brown’s studio, in Los Angeles. She described the experience as, “organic,” with days spent writing with Wood stock and Janet Jackson’s velvet rope tour playing on the T.V in the background. “It was important to me to take my fans on a 30 minute journey, it’s all about living in the moment and enjoying the ride.” The result is a project that is cohesive with a clear story of who JoJo is now. She is paving her own way and not asking for permission. She has come too far to return to her former self. There are people who want to hear this new voice and her mission is to make sure they do. Ultimately, she is a normal girl in her 20‘s trying to find her way through love, life, and knowing herself.
Many would be interested to know how easy it is to talk to JoJo, she’s charming, humble and unassuming. We spoke about her inspirations, love of music and what she wants for the future. JoJo goes by the name of transluscentbrownsugar on instagram, which pays homage to one of her favorite singers D’Angelo’s hit song, “Brown Sugar.” Translucent refers to the kind of music she is focused on making.
“I was not raised to recognize color, and I moved around so much that I have been exposed to so many cultures.” Translucent is also referring to the absence of color. After all why should the guys have all the fun? JoJo is representing female blue-eyed soul in a way similar to her counterparts Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. In her cover of, “Marvin’s Room,” she sings that, “she bets his new girl isn’t crazy like she is.” Admitting to being crazy is the last thing women want to do, out of fear of appearing unattractive. JoJo does not have that fear. She mentioned artist like Joni Mitchell and Amy Winehouse being a big inspirations because, “they were not worried about being perfect, they told the truth without worrying about what they looked like.” Other than crazy, when asked to describe herself in a word she chose, sensitive.
“Everything about me is sensitive, I love hard, I play hard, and even my allergies are sensitive!” Along with Mitchell and Winehouse she cites Musiq Soulchild and Jill Scott as inspirations as well.
Imagine my excitement as a Philadelphia native to hear that she is a fan of the neo-soul scene, she exclaimed, “I love Philly! It has such history and culture.” Jojo knows a lot about culture as she has traveled all over soaking up inspiration. She loves meeting new people and having conversations about music. Her tour dates take her all over the world, and in her live performances her inspirations can be heard as she covers songs ranging from the late Aaliyah, to Amy Winehouse to Rihanna.
No conversation with JoJo is complete without discussing the elephant in the room. Where is her latest album? Where has she been? At the moment she is dealing with a very sensitive issue with her current label. After so many promised releases and pushed back dates, JoJo has become exasperated with her label.
Under her current contract she does not have the creative license she needs to grow and take her fans on a journey of who she has become. This is why, Agape, is so important. JoJo has been very vocal with her frustrations and when asked if that has affected her negatively with her label, she responded that she doesn’t think it made a difference either way.
“My fans deserve to hear where I have been and why.” With millions of records sold in her career, and current challenges JoJo has been forced to redefine what success means to her. “Success is being able to impact people, performing, and happiness has now become being proud of the work that I present.” Five years from now she sees herself empowered free of baggage, releasing albums, and on a world tour. Agape is definitely a step in the right direction, #teamjojo get ready because JoJo is indeed, “translucent brown sugar,” and now that she has taken control her future has become so clear.
By Amber Kennedy