K-Ci & JoJo's X will enter next week's Billboard albums chart at #21, becoming the third straight effort from the sibling duo to debut in the top 25 not including their previous three albums as half of the soulful group Jodeci.
After 10 years of recording and performing on their own and with Jodeci, brothers Cedric "K-Ci" and Joel "JoJo" Hailey are ready to celebrate their newest musical accomplishment, as well as take stock in their decade-long career.
"X has a very special meaning," K-Ci said. "That [refers] to the Roman numeral X, the number 10, and we're just celebrating. We're just so happy and blessed that we've been around for 10 years. We came a long way, and we still have a long way to go, but we just thank God that he let us be able to see 10 years being in the music business successfully."
Featuring tracks from such high-profile hit makers as Timbaland, Babyface and Teddy Riley, X marks the spot for K-Ci and JoJo's relatively quick return following the release of the duo's platinum 1999 LP It's Real, although the Hailey brothers say they're accustomed to the nonstop work ethic.
"We never stopped working," JoJo said, "even from the beginning. We've been working [continually] ever since Love Always (1997), and it feels so good to be able to hear ourselves again with new material."
"And say that we're back," K-Ci said.
K-Ci and JoJo are back in a big way with the new record, which is getting a boost from the first single and video, "Crazy," a collaboration between the duo and fledgling writer/producer Darrell "Delite" Allamby.
"['Crazy' is] just one of those songs that everybody can relate to," K-Ci said. "That's why I liked it, because if you lose someone, then you're going to do something crazy, whether you're going to start partying all the time or whether you're going to sleep all day and not eat. You're just going to go crazy if you lose your loved one, and that's what that song is about."
Another key track from X is "Thug N U Thug N Me," which includes a vocal sample from the late Tupac Shakur and which K-Ci said is a throw-back to Shakur's 1996 single "How Do U Want It." At the time, the song was the first appearance by K-Ci & JoJo as a separate entity outside of Jodeci, who released their last album, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel, in 1995.
"That song, to me, sounds like a 'How Do U Want It, Part 2,' " K-Ci said. "It's just one of those songs that we had heard before Pac passed away."
"It's a great song," he added. "We miss him, and he was in [the studio with us] in spirit, most definitely. He was there in spirit, because we could feel him."
Despite their success as K-Ci & JoJo, the duo admit they're anxious to reconvene with former Jodeci bandmates DeVante Swing and Dalvin DeGrate and record the long-awaited follow-up to The Show, the After Party, the Hotel.
To help lead into that planned new Jodeci record, K-Ci & JoJo brought in DeVante to help craft a pair of X tracks, "Get Back" and the uncredited "Slip & Fall." According to K-Ci, DeVante already has more than 40 songs awaiting the Hailey Brothers, who would like to have the new Jodeci record out by next summer.
Plans for the Jodeci album are going well, K-Ci said, but "there's a big difference now. We're all older, more mature, and have got more responsibilities. We see a light at the end of the tunnel, thank God, finally. So, we're all taking this project very, very seriously. At the same note, you've got to think about it we haven't worked together in six years.
"So, even though we're family, it's just like a family reunion. You know, you've still got to make the rounds and go, 'Let's see how this boy is going to act today. Let me see if it's the same K-Ci I know, or the same JoJo I know, or the same DeVante I know, or the same Dalvin I know.' That's what we're doing, and while we're doing that, DeVante has done 40 tracks already, the pre-production."
After completing a series of appearances at holiday radio shows in December and a Japanese tour in February, K-Ci and JoJo will reunite in the studio with DeVante and Dalvin to record what they said might be a triple album.
K-Ci & JoJo are scheduled to join Macy Gray, Christina Aguilera, 98° and Third Eye Blind on December 16 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for the KIIS-FM Jingle Ball 2000.