The most revealing moment of K-Ci and JoJo’s fall from grace occurred two years ago on an August night at the Enmore Theater in Sydney, Australia. During the group’s one-hour performance, JoJo staggered across the stage and spoke to the crowd with slurred speech before unexpectedly retreating backstage and leaving his brother, K-Ci, to continue the show and sing several songs alone. JoJo eventually returned to perform their hit “All My Life.” After singing a verse, JoJo passed out on stage due to excessive alcohol consumption. The video of the incident instantly became an Internet sensation and ultimately served as the duo’s joint cry for help.
While growing up in the small town of Wingate, N.C., Cedric “K-Ci” and Joel “JoJo” Hailey never imagined that achieving their dreams of stardom would come at price. As teenagers, K-Ci and JoJo’s desires to show the nation their musical talents began to manifest after joining DeVante and Dalvin DeGrate to form Jodeci. Their lives were changed forever after they signed with Uptown Records and were schooled by Diddy, who served as an Uptown executive at the time.
With three critically acclaimed albums (Forever My Lady, Diary of a Mad Band, and The Show, the After Party, the Hotel) as members of Jodeci, and after making a triple platinum album (Love Always) as a duo, K-Ci & JoJo experienced musical achievement at its highest level.
But as their careers progressed, their vices grew and money gave them the capabilities to feed those vices until their personal lives spiraled out of control. K-Ci and JoJo have placed themselves in a vulnerable position by allowing the world a glimpse into their lives as they attempt to recover from drug and alcohol abuse.
Days before their reality show “K-Ci & JoJo Come Clean” airs on TV One, the brothers discussed how drugs and alcohol ravaged their bodies and destroyed their music careers.
Take us back to that period when you guys first attained success. What were the negative effects of getting so much at a young age?
JoJo: We were 18 and 19 when we first started. But we had money and were traveling the world. We could get any car we wanted, girls, and the parties every day. We started depending on having fun and partying. [We were] drinking instead of taking care of our real business, which [was] going on stage or [into] the studio. But we would have wild parties at the studio when were supposed to be working. We were rebellious at that time.
Was there anyone around telling you guys to slow down?
K-Ci: There were a few people that came and told us to chill out. But those were the ones we would push away. We would be like ‘You can’t tell us what to do. This is our career.’ We thought that we were the baddest group in the world. That was the attitude we had and it caught up with us.
How were you affected by all of the money that you were receiving?
JoJo: Once you get that much popularity and that much money, you have people around you that are really supposed to be your friends, but they are not your damn friends. You’ll find that out as they come and go. But you get this frame of mind that you are untouchable. You can’t do anything wrong and everything you say is right. You get into this fake world and you forget about your morals. Even if it was wrong, I didn’t want to hear what was right.
When did you guys decide to make a change and leave that lifestyle behind you?
JoJo: I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I wasn’t born with that. There is no trace of that in my family. It came from drinking alcohol. I was drinking every morning, afternoon and night. Before I would eat breakfast, I would have a drink. It started taking a toll on my body. I was killing myself. My doctor told me that I could die if I continued to drink heavily. I started having seizures and passing out from not nourishing my body. You could smell the liquor come through my pores. You could see it all in my eyes. That’s when it hit me. I was like ‘Hell no, I’m better than this.’
K-Ci: It came a time when we had to stop. We [weren’t] raised like that living here in North Carolina. But we didn’t have any guidance when we were on tour. We had a bunch of yes people around us. When they told us not to do it, we would fire them. But we had to choose between having a good, successful career or be[ing] a drunk. Partying and drinking ruined it all and took everything away. We had to make our minds up.
Why was this a good time to do the TV One reality show?
K-Ci: I just thank God for giving us another chance and opportunity to let the world know about us. We just hope everybody can grasp it, and hopefully, it will be an inspiration for someone else. We had to come to our senses.
JoJo: Our parents and children would read stuff about us and it’s become embarrassing. We prayed on it and said let’s do it [the show]. This way, nobody has to read about us anymore more. With ‘Come Clean’ we let them know that this is what we did and what we’re doing now
Your kids have witnessed you guys struggle with substance abuse. What do you tell them about your past life and how have they helped in this process?
JoJo: I let my kids know that they don’t have to follow in my footsteps by being an entertainer. I am able to talk to my kids with more responsibility now. I’m able to speak to them let them know and show them there is a good way to have fun with drugs or alcohol.
K-Ci: Nothing is better than having your kids with you. For instance, my son called me and just wanted to say that he was proud of me. He understands that I am trying. He doesn’t have to do what his father did. I couldn’t talk to my kids back in the day because I was messed up. I didn’t even have time to talk to them because of that bottle and my frame of mind. I’ll never put anything before my kids again.
MTV Unplugged- “Lately”
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“All My Life”
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“Forever My Lady”
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