Curiosity came over me when I learned that K-Ci and JoJo were coming out with a new album. Like every other female who came into her grown-and-sexy in the '90s, I ooohed and aahhed and found myself beside myself over and over again as the R&B group Jodeci dominated with songs like "Forever My Lady", "Love U 4 Life", "Come and Talk to Me" and "Feenin'." Whereas brothers DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin were easy on the eyes, arguably it was K-Ci (known as the Bobby Womack of R&B) and JoJo (known as the Stevie Wonder of R&B) who quickly became known as the voices of the group, the vocal masters of our ears.
Capitalizing on the celebrity and fame garnered from their time as part of Jodeci, K-Ci and JoJo went on to record several albums as a solo act that spawned several chart-topping hits, more commercially successful than their work with Jodeci. But just as we witnessed their rise to the heights of the R&B world, we became privy to years of their personal struggles with addiction as it played out in headline news and on reality TV with their show Come Clean. Last year, a reportedly inebriated JoJo fell off the stage during a show with his brother K-Ci, and a reunited Jodeci was booed off stage during a London concert in March of this year. But as K-Ci and JoJo shared during a recent interview, with the release of their sixth album My Brother's Keeper on September 30, the dynamic sibling duo aren't seeking to clean up their image or even prove that they're still relevant. They simply want their fans to know that they still have a passion for making music, and it's music that makes their worlds go round.
VH1: What don't people know about K-Ci and JoJo that you want them to know with the release of this new album?
JoJo: We just want our fans to know that as far as the new album and the trials and tribulations that we've been through, that comes with life itself. And we really want them to know that we still K-Ci and JoJo, our sound is still the same, and we just picked up on this album where we left off. The trials and tribulations slowed us down on a lot of things, we slowed down a lot but we still alive, and we just thank God for being here, and we just love the fact that we are even able to have a new album coming out and we just have to give thanks to our fans, family and friends.
This new album is your sixth album as K-Ci and JoJo. What makes K-Ci and JoJo, and the music you two create together, so special?
K-Ci: We have a very distinctive sound, and have been for over 20 years now, and we just keep singing, it's not built on fiction, so we just gonna stick to it. We made this sound, and our fans kept us out there. Dru Hill, Jagged Edge and all of them are keeping our sound out there so that means a lot to us and it's not going to go anywhere. Whether we're doing it or somebody else is doing it, everybody know, that's Jodeci's sound, or K-Ci and JoJo sound.
JoJo: You have to always keep the passion for it, and we still have the passion for music — for singing and performing and recording. It is our passion, it's what we do.
Is there a particular theme for this album and what was your approach to making it?
JoJo: The theme is "my brother's keeper" and our approach was to be honest. We knew we weren't going to go out of the context of who we are. Everything just worked out and fell into our hands, and we just ran with it. We have writing credits on the album and we have in-house producers, they're our family, and they've been producing us since we started K-Ci and JoJo. They've been with us since day one and we just stuck with that — we didn't try to go outside the box.
What does the future hold for you guys and Jodeci?
JoJo: You know what, I can't read into the future, so I really don't know, but right now we just want to focus on this album here. I don’t know how to juggle, so I have to do one thing at a time. So right now we're just really concentrating on K-Ci and JoJo from this moment.
When it's all said and done, what do you want your musical legacy to be and people to remember?
JoJo: The lyrics to the songs [laughter]. And just to remember the fun things about us. Let the good outweigh the bad.
Please talk about the song "Somebody Please" off the new album. You sing your hearts out on that record! It's like an old-school throwback to Motown, which is coming back around in a big way for a new generation of fans.
K-Ci: We're deeply rooted from the church and we do have that soul in us. So that song right there, when they let us hear it I was like it was perfect. And, if you can remember, it's right down my alley because I did a remake of Bobby Womack. We want to give something for the old and young — or not so old and not so young. We want to cater to everybody.
And the title song off the new album "My Brother's Keeper" — what's the story behind that powerful and emotional song?
It is a conversation. And the guy that wrote it (Roger “Mista Raja” Greene, Jr.), he got inspired by coming to one of our concerts and seeing us perform, and I think K-Ci and I hugged and he said it just brought chills to him and he just went home and started writing because he was thinking about the show and how it touched him. That's one of my favorite songs as well.
Any possibility of you guys collaborating with your cousin Fantasia on some music?
K-Ci: Absolutely! If we don't do it out here we'll do it in church, so you might want to come to Sunday service sometime [laughter].