1. Updated — 6:19 p.m. E.T.
2. After years of legal battles over her contract with her former label Blackground Records, pop star JoJo is finally free, the L.A. Times reported on Tuesday.
She was officially released from her contract with Blackground Entertainment and its imprint Da Family Records around Christmas, a rep confirmed to BuzzFeed after the L.A. Times first reported the news on Tuesday.
3. The 23-year-old singer signed a new deal with Atlantic Records in December, which she celebrated on Instagram.
JoJo captioned the photo “#FREEDJOJO,” a reference to the “#FreeJoJo” movement many of the singer’s fans have taken part in in order to draw attention to the singer’s struggle to leave her Blackground contract. JoJo also celebrated the news by giving props to her legal team on Instagram: “Superb lawyering @DJD & litigation team #letsWORK #teamjojo #yourethefuckingbest”
4. The news marks a monumental new beginning for the singer, who had been bound by her contract and essentially held hostage by Blackground for more than seven years.
JoJo — who was the youngest star to ever have a No. 1 single on the Hot 100 chart with her 2004 song “Leave (Get Out)” — has been mostly out of the limelight since 2006, when she released her second album The High Road. Though she hasn’t released another record since, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been trying.
In May of 2013, JoJo told BuzzFeed that she’d been trying to release her third album for the past several years. “I’ve recorded about three incarnations of this third album,” the singer told BuzzFeed. “We’ve chosen the track listing, we’ve done multiple album photo shoots, chosen the cover, chosen the credits, everything.”
However, whenever she’d try to turn in her album, she’d get no response from Blackground. But because she’d signed a seven-album deal with the label in 2004, when she was only 12, JoJo was unable to break her contract. She first filed a lawsuit in 2009 against Da Family Entertainment/Blackground, citing a breach of contract, alleging the label failed to secure distribution for her album and forced her into a state of limbo. The suit, however, was ultimately dropped after the label found distribution with Interscope — only to lose it again three years later.
In July 2013, JoJo filed a lawsuit with the New York State Supreme Court against Blackground and Da Family, citing failure on the part of the label to release her third album and for allegedly neglecting to pay producers and vendors she worked with. She also invoked the New York law which protects minors from being trapped in contracts that exceed seven years — meaning her contract with Blackground should have been up in 2011.
6. But even while she was locked into her Blackground contract, JoJo continued to make music, releasing two mixtapes, including the acclaimed Agápē in 2012.
7. Her song “Demonstrate,” produced by Drake collaborator Noah “40” Shebib, was a critic favorite.
At a Vitamin Water x The Fader event this past summer, JoJo said she’d been working with 40 and Chad Hugo in the studio.
8. And she gained a lot of attention thanks to her soulful, moving cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room.”
9. Throughout the years of legal battle, JoJo continued to perform and slowly open up about her struggles.
10. JoJo’s fans have been celebrating on Twitter, but there’s perhaps no one happier than her mom, who tweeted this around the time her daughter was released from her contract:
11. Update: The singer made her first statements about her newfound freedom on Twitter, thanking the press and her longtime fans for their support.
13. She also thanked her team of managers and legal reps, saying they “helped make a way out of no way.”
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