Yesterday was Jojo's birthday but somehow we all received a gift. When fans of the former pop singer realized updated versions of her first two albums were available on streaming services, it felt like the rhinestone studded glory of the mid-2000s all over again. Due to a contractual dispute, the singer’s previous label, Blackground, kept albums Jojo and The High Road from appearing on streaming services. The particulars are unclear but the fact that the music that was mired in a legal dispute is appearing on streaming services can only be a good thing for the singer.
I remember first watching "Leave (Get Out)" in the era of The-N, a Nickelodeon offshoot now known as TeenNick. The channel played videos between its teen-centric programming and I was seriously plotting on Degrassi's pre-Drake Aubrey Graham. At the time, message boards and AOL Instant Messenger were our preferred method of communication, and at 12 I was a little too obsessed with what I thought high school was supposed to be like. Here was this young girl, only two years older than me, with this huge voice breaking up with her boyfriend in front of the entire student body. She was mad, so I was mad. Truth be told, I had no one to be mad at but you'd never know that by the way I reenacted this video every time I saw it. Jojo was the soundtrack to sleepovers where my friends and I spent an unhealthy amount of time in chatrooms finding people to catfish. Not only were her singles timely (a duet with Bow Wow in 2004 was a big deal) but her deep cuts were exactly what were on our minds. You knew right away that you never wanted to be anything other than his definition of a "breezy" and would try your damnedest to sing "Weak" better than her rendition and SWV's original.
Two years later, I was finally in high school and she was still soundtracking my dramatic bouts of unrequited love (read: schoolgirl crushes). I still made sure my iPod was filled with The High Road's bops, but her hiatus from music seemed like she'd completely fallen off the radar until 2016's Mad Love. Selfishly, I wanted her to still be there to sing me through the rest of high school. But, I had no idea there was an actual legal battle going on for her to make music.
Jojo's remake of Jojo and The High Road bring me back to simpler times. I worried about how her voice would sound singing along to the songs of her past, but the maturation in her tone has elevated them. She switches a few of the lyrics on "Breezy," trading "I'm his one and only, nothin' less" to "That's my name that's tatted on his chest." "Not That Kinda Girl" aged like wine, resonating a little harder in the era of being extremely online. For a decade, Jojo might have felt confined to the music she's made as a child star. But, the 2018 version of Jojo and The High Road are her attempt at turning lemons into lemonade. Instead of she's having fun on these reworkings, reclaiming the music that could have held her hostage.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.