In a candid interview with Uproxx, singer JoJo opened up about her own struggles dealing with the businessman.
Famous for becoming the youngest solo artist to earn a No. 1 hit with "Leave (Get Out)," JoJo says she was enticed to sign with Blackground because she was impressed at how Hankerson was able to radidly transform Aaliyah into a household name.
"My label got my mom a car, got us an apartment and I had my own room for the first time," JoJo continued. "They felt like family to us, and I think that's what both my mom and I were really longing for deep down. Both of us come from very unstable family situations and they really appealed to that within us — that we were creating something that was going to last forever."
Those jovial days quickly turned gloomy, with the now 30-year-old saying label execs pressured her to radically change her physique under the guise of looking as healthy as possible.
"When I was 18 I remember being sat down in the Blackground office and the president of the label being like, ‘We just want you to look as healthy as possible.' And I was like, ‘I'm actually the picture of health. I look like a healthy girl who eats and is active. I don't think this is about my health. I think that you want me to be really skinny.' He's like, ‘No, I wouldn't say that.'"
"I ended up working with a nutritionist who had me on a 500-calorie diet a day. I was taking these injections that make you have no appetite. I was like, 'Let me see how thin I could become because maybe then they will put out an album. Maybe I'm so disgusting that nobody wants to see me in the video and they can't even look at me.' That's really what I thought."
Since severing ties with Blackground, JoJo has gone on to form her own record label in partnership with Warner Brothers, re-record her first two albums and corresponding singles owned by Blackground and release new music on her terms.