JoJo has been on a winning streak over the last year: She dropped her cover of Drake‘s “Marvin’s Room” and showed that not only can she still sang, she’s able to inject more ambiguity, resentment and longing into a vocal performance than pretty much anyone else in the game, racking up 32 million hits on YouTube for the song. Then, this summer, she won universal acclaim with “Demonstrate,” a slow-burning, freaky R&B jam that oozed attitude and sex appeal. Now, she’s gearing up for a new era with her mixtape, Agápē, and the first single, “We Get By,” premiered today.
“We Get By” is airy and diffuse as “Marvin’s Room,” but with a skittering, toe-tapping backbeat. At once celebratory and resigned, the track is an anthem for grinding that treats the art of the hustle for exactly what it is — hustle. “All I got are these hopes and dreams and this Cranberry Stoli,” she sighs in the first verse; then, bass begins to pound on the chorus as she sings “I get by” over and over again. It’s a neat tightrope between frustration and optimism, but she walks it gracefully.
It’s not the first time JoJo’s managed to turn an elegantly simple pop song into something much more emotionally complex, and with the direction Agape is taking, it won’t be the last. Listen below.