At age 13, JoJo made history as the youngest artist in America to land a No. 1 single, and then again as the youngest nominee for an MTV Video Music Award. JoJo astounded audiences with her powerful pipes and it seemed like she was priming herself to be the next R&B superstar. But, due to a failing record label, it would be 10 years until the world heard from JoJo again. Now, with a brand new album tearing up the charts, JoJo is back and here to stay. On May 1, JoJo released “Good to Know,” showing her resilience and fortitude as an artist who’s fought hard to continue making music. “When people ask me, ‘Why did you decide to keep going?’ I just don’t understand what the alternative is,” JoJo says. “This is something I started when I was a little girl and I refuse to let the industry, the politics and the things that were outside of my control define me. When you keep going, that’s how you win.”

JoJo’s career took off when she was 12 years old, after she signed to Blackground Records and later released her first No. 1 hit, “Leave (Get Out).” In her early teens, she went on to star in two of the biggest family films of the year and released her second album, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200. At that time, she saw more world tours and more No. 1 singles in her future; however, the decade did not go as planned.

Strapped into a contract she deemed unfair, JoJo took her label to court. “I didn’t legally own my own voice, so they wouldn’t approve anything I did,” JoJo says. “I wasn’t able to release albums and my inability to release music took me out of the running to be on the charts at all.” JoJo ultimately won the battle after finding a loophole in her contract, and throughout those years of struggle, one of her biggest motivations was her devoted fanbase. JoJo’s fans stuck with her throughout her years of silence and were always ready to defend her on social media, captioning their posts with #freejojo. “That was priceless and I can’t say that I would still be here if it weren’t for them,” JoJo says. “I can’t overstate how they kept me going and I have the best, most passionate fanbase in the world.”

Photo by Doug Krantz

Photo by Doug Krantz

After briefly signing to Atlantic Records and releasing her third studio album, “Mad Love,” in 2016, JoJo made the decision to create her own label—Clover Music. She then began re-recording vocals to her early hits and taking back ownership of her chart-topping singles. Now that she’s covered her old music with her own label and is in full control of her voice for the first time, JoJo has made a triumphant return with “Good to Know,” which showcases the singer as a fully evolved and realized performer. “My process [for this album] was getting some of my favorite creatives and trying a bunch of shit,” JoJo says. “I basically opened up my journals, drained my brain, wrote about the same thing over and over again. I went through a process of discovering myself, being alone, trying to escape and chronicling the past two years of my life.”

JoJo reintroduced herself to the world with the album’s first single, “Man,” and despite its title, she didn’t cast a single man in the song’s music video. Instead, it’s an anthem of female empowerment and the video featured cameos from JoJo’s real-life girl squad—Ari Lennox, Tinashe, JinJoo, Francia Raisa and JoJo Gomez. “I wanted to be clear that while the song is called ‘Man,’ it’s not about wanting a man or needing a man,” JoJo says. “It’s about loving yourself, not settling and stepping up to recognize your value. The women who are in the video are some of my home girls and are killing it in their own right, who I look at like, ‘That’s a bad bitch.’” In the song, JoJo puts self-love and friendship over romance, which can be secondary topics to the love- and lust-heavy genre of R&B. “My girlfriends have been so instrumental to my growth over the past few years,” JoJo says. “I’ve been consciously single and was celibate while I was making the album, because it was about getting to know myself, my tastes and my boundaries.”

While “Man” epitomizes finding confidence as a single woman, JoJo was clear to show the other side of that story in her album. Her promotional single “Lonely Hearts” taps into the vulnerable side of being on your own and the importance of working on yourself before a relationship. “‘Man’ is the ‘I love being on my own’ vibe, but ‘Lonely Hearts’ shows that [being single] isn’t always this sexy, empowering feeling,” JoJo says. “Sometimes, there’s a lot of introspection or you think about going backwards. It’s not always a straight shot being comfortable with being alone. It’s just another side of being alone.”

Photo by Doug Krantz

Photo by Doug Krantz

“Good to Know” wouldn’t be a full-bodied R&B album without at least one bedroom hit, and that track is “Comeback.” Initially selected as the promotional single for the album but held back to include features by Tory Lanez and 30 Roc, this song proves that JoJo is capable of showing her sexy side, as well as creating introspective ballads. As a body of work, the album showcases the multifaceted splendor of JoJo and when it comes to her physical body of work, her tattoos do the same. JoJo began collecting tattoos at the age of 17, getting a treble clef on her finger. As she spent many years getting to know herself, she showcased her self-growth through her tattoo collection. “I have this beautiful portrait of Sedona, Arizona—which is one of my favorite cities in the world,” JoJo says. “It reminds me of the peace and the clarity that I have when I’m there. It’s a really special place to me and it’s so beautiful with all the colors—which actually inspired the artwork for ‘Good to Know.’”

With her new album making waves online and millions celebrating her victorious return to the charts, JoJo has all the tools to regain the spotlight. The past decade and a half have been full of ups and downs for JoJo, but throughout all her struggles, she’s proven that she’s committed to riding out the waves. And now she’s stronger, as an artist, entertainer and woman, than ever before. JoJo won back her own voice, and with that out of the way, there’s nothing holding her back from taking over the world, one hit at a time.

Photo by Doug Krantz

Photo by Doug Krantz

Catch the deluxe edition of "Good to Know" on 8/28, which includes a remix of "Lonely Hearts" with Demi Lovato and five additional singles.