K-Ci and JoJo Hailey are grateful. After going through some admittedly tough times, the chart-topping duo has come out on the other side stronger, wiser and at the top of their game. And so, when asked about My Brother’s Keeper, their first CD in ten years and debut on eOne Music, K-Ci and JoJo speak from the heart. “This right here?” says K-Ci. “It’s like the first time. We feel brand new because it’s been so long.”
The CD’s title sums up a thread that has run throughout K-Ci and JoJo’s spectacular career. Whether they are crooning or testifying, K-Ci and JoJo’s strengths, as artists and men, come from knowing that they have each others’ backs and that family, extended or by blood, is what really matter. “We have a very strong fan base,” K-Ci says. “They stuck behind us before, and they stand behind us now. Showing the love, coming to our concerts.” Echoing his brother, JoJo offers, “We love our family and our friends, and are fans are part of that.”
The first single is “Knock It Off.” Accompanied by a video with a smoky, Rat Pack vibe, “Knock It Off” is a soulful mix of grown man swagger and late night seduction. As for the message? “Knock It Off” makes it plain that no matter what you’ve heard or read, K-Ci and JoJo are back on top and have no use for games or gossip. “We’re tired of the drama,” JoJo says. “Just knock it off, leave me alone!”
The soaring, emotional title track also cuts to the chase and reaffirms the power of love. Offers K-Ci, “We’re just telling it like it is. Our backs are against the wall, we’re coming clean.” JoJo seconds his brother’s sentiments. “No one is perfect. But at least we had the courage to acknowledge our mistakes and put them out there. And if you’re going to talk about us, we might as well talk about ourselves.”
As with all K-Ci and JoJo albums, there is a little something for the women. The impassioned and soul drenched “Somebody Please” speaks to the pleasure and pain of laying your heart on the line. Explains K-Ci, “If you go back in time, (even) to the Jodeci days, all of our lyrics are very, very sensitive to the ladies. And this song is definitely that. Somebody please help and tell that lady that I love here…and I ain’t gonna front, I do love women.” “I’m so happily married,” JoJo says, “and my brother, he’s happy and we have our kids and grandkids and we don’t need to hear all that mess. We have grown into men.”
Another heartfelt song is “What Goes Around.” As K-Ci tells it, “That song is basically telling the ladies, you done me wrong, it’s gonna get you.” JoJo adds, “I love that song…the same road you travel just might let you down and it comes around again if you allow it.”
Born and raised in North Carolina, K-Ci and JoJo came up singing gospel music. In 1991, they became half of the hugely successful R&B foursome Jodeci. With three top ten albums and the hits “Feenin’,” “Come & Talk To Me,” and “Forever My Lady,” Jodeci’s hip-hop infused sound and attitude helped usher in a new era of R&B. Referring to that bad boy image K-Ci offers, “I always stayed humble but there was a wild side to us. But I’m glad we went through that, because we wouldn’t have been able to hit you with what we have now.”
In 1997, K-Ci and JoJo stepped out on their own with the album Love Actually. The album went 4x platinum and yielded two top ten hits, including the transcendent “All My Life,” which spent three weeks at #1. In 1999, JoJo and K-Ci dropped “Life” and later that year delivered their sophomore album It’s Real, featuring the #2 single “Tell Me It’s Real.” The album went platinum and charted at #8. Their third album, X, contained the #3 hit “Crazy” and was followed by 2002’s Emotional.
Even when the duo was not in the spotlight, K-Ci and JoJo were far from idle. They continued to work on new material, and in 2010 starred in the hit reality show K-Ci and JoJo Come Clean, which took an unflinching look in the brothers’ battle with alcohol. Those demons behind them, K-Ci and JoJo knew they had the strength to make the next move and return to what they do best. They began doing select dates, where they were greeted by scores of enthusiastic fans. Touched by the response, K-Ci and JoJo set their eyes on the prize, the culmination of which is My Brother’s Keeper. Says K-Ci “It was just a matter of time. We felt it was the right time and it hasn’t been easy. And we’ve got a long way to go. But we want people to know that we’re still here and thanks for the love, by the grace of God. He had a fence around us.” “This album is to let our fans know that, hey, we’re still doing this, “JoJo explains. “Maybe our lifestyle has changed, but as far as the music? It’s in our blood, we’re still here.”
That, they are.