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Blast From The Past: Sisqo Talks Dru Hill Then & Now

Male R&B groups came and went like genie pants in the '90s, but Dru Hill stood out, with their soulful four-part harmony and energetic, to say the least, platinum-haired lead singer, Sisqo. The Baltimore quartet dropped their self-titled debut in 1996, led by the gold-selling single, “Tell Me." But after their sophomore follow-up, Enter the Dru, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts, group member Woody split to hit the solo road. Dru Hill's future seemed uncertain, especially with Sisqo getting women's panties in a bunch thanks to a little No. 1 hit called “Thong Song.”

By 2002, Woody had returned along with an additional member, Scola, for their third effort, Dru World Order but then the group parted ways again (see the pattern?). Now hoping that third time’s a charm, Dru Hill is back to a quartet with new member Tao replacing Woody. Their trials and tribulations on the road to reconnecting plays out every week on their Centric reality series, Platinum House, but game time officially began on Tuesday (July 27) with the release of their fourth effort, Indrupendence Day. While skeptics are still raising eyebrows, front man Sisqo says the group’s still got it. The blonde one speaks with VIBE and breaks down how they really feel about Woody, Nokio’s new choice of style and why he feels Indrupendence Day is the group’s best album, no side eye. ⎯Starrene Rhett

 


VIBE: There seems to be a lot of tension in Dru Hill. How did you guys fall apart?

Sisqo: A couple of factors played into what we had to do. When we left our old distribution, everybody went their separate ways and in doing that, that separated us and after a while of working solo everybody just⎯actually with Keith Sweat, when we decided to come back together, the first show we did was with him and that’s when he gave us the idea for Platinum House.

Did you have resentment toward Woody for leaving twice?

It really wasn’t resentment. Originally, we were talking about getting back together as a group and I guess he had a change of heart but he didn’t really voice that until we got on the radio and that’s really what the biggest issue was because it was like the second time that we were doing something really big and Woody had a change of heart in the middle of something. The first time he had a change of heart, we were on the set of the “Wild Wild West” video. That’s why if you look at the “Wild Wild West” video, in the beginning you see all four of us and then at the end you see three of us. So I think that’s where the frustration came from, like, “Wow, you didn’t have to say this on the radio. First time it was on the video, now it’s on the radio. You could have told us this before we got to this point.” And the reason Woody left, I felt like maybe he did have something to say and we weren’t listening. But it’s not necessarily that we weren’t listening. It’s four different guys with four different opinions and sometimes your opinion isn’t best for the whole group but that doesn’t mean that weren’t listening. I’ve had several ideas that haven’t gone through but you gotta pick and choose your battles.

Looking back what would you have done better as far as group communication?

It wasn’t a whole lot we could do. We came out of high school into the music industry. And doing the best you can to break as an artist is a full time night and day kind of job so you gotta grow up really fast. So it’s not really an option to hold one another’s hand. You just gotta make it happen. So I wouldn’t say that we didn’t do anything. I think it was more so just growing up and knowing when to voice your opinion, that way things are smoother. I really felt like I did all I could. Woody and I are still cool. I just spoke to him a couple of days ago and he’s definitely working on music on my next solo project.

 Tao replaced Woody, which takes you guys back to the original quartet format but what happened to Scola?

 Scola came along with Woody because [they] were working on a gospel project and when Woody left, Scola went with him. 

 How’s Tao working out so far?

It’s all good. We had already known Tao. We could have just kept going like Destiny’s Child did when they had turmoil in their group but that wasn’t really an option for us considering how intricate our harmony is. We definitely needed that fourth note so we held a contest in the Baltimore area because we wanted to keep it true to Dru Hill. You can’t have Dru Hill when everybody is from Maryland and Somebody is from Roanoke, V.A. [Laughs]. So basically with everybody that was in the competition except for one or two people, we knew them because they were from the area. When Tao competed, we didn’t choose who would be in the group. We asked the audience to choose.

So what can fans expect from Indrupendence Day?

Indrupendence Day is the most balanced album out of all the music we recorded. I say that because in the beginning of our career, it was typical of the label to push who they want into the forefront and in our case it was me. But if you listen to the album, you actually really do hear a lot of diversity. The music that was released was mostly me but on this album here, you get the opportunity to hear everybody singing. That’s really what a group is supposed to be but because of how groups have been portrayed throughout the past since the early 90s and the late 80s, it has always been that one person pushed to the front. So with this album we’re really trying to define what a group is.

Even Nokio? He really seemed low key in the past when it came to vocals.

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Signage is seen at the 2020 Billboard Power List Event at NeueHouse Hollywood on January 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
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Billboard’s 2020 Power List Event Pins Leadership As The Music Industry’s Most Lucrative Tool

The start of a new decade inspired a change of plans for Billboard’s annual Power List. In previous years, the publication ranked 100 music industry professionals for their strides in the business by creating strategies that have propelled artists to the top of the charts and proved that the senior practices of the business can sometimes benefit from a fresh makeover. For 2020’s edition, the brand opted to not rank those chosen professionals but instead gathered and produced a list of honorees including Lyor Cohen (YouTube’s Global Head of Music), Roc Nation’s Jay-Z (Chairman), Desiree Perez (CEO), and Jay Brown (Vice Chairman) to Quality Control’s CEO Pierre “P” Thomas and COO Kevin “Coach K” Lee.

To a resounding applause inside the event’s NeueHouse location on a balmy Thursday evening (Jan. 23) in Los Angeles, Hannah Karp, Editorial Director of Billboard Media Group, explained the reason for the change and the company’s hope that next year will produce another list of futuristic innovators. “For one thing it’s always been hard to compare the power of executives in different sectors,” Karp said. “We also wanted to inspire a new generation of music business executives that honor leadership instead of just leverage.”

The first award of the night, which was named in honor of Jay Frank, a beloved music industry veteran who worked as senior vice president at Universal Music Group (UMG) before he passed away from cancer in 2019, was given to Mitchell Shymanskly, vice president of data and analytics at UMG, for his strides in digital music leadership.

“Jay was a visionary in our field, he saw things differently which is the true definition of an innovator,” he said. “He was looking constantly for an edge and it was a great privilege of mine to have the opportunity to work alongside him.” Shymanskly learned the mantra, “We don’t succeed alone.” That quote was echoed by Columbia Records chairman/CEO Ron Perry, who received the Breakthrough Award. He gave praise to his team for their work and success, especially after a year of witnessing Lil Nas X’s breakneck speed to pop stardom.

While future pioneers both in front and behind the mic filled the room, a living legend who helped shape some of music’s most fortified models also made a special guest appearance. The Clive Davis Visionary Award was presented to Atlantic Records’ Craig Kallman (CEO) and Julie Greenwald (COO) by the man himself, Clive Davis.

Greenwald shared the duo’s singular vision that allows Atlantic Records the ability to remain one of the music industry's pillars of success. “Build and maintain a music company that we love, we surrounded ourselves with an extraordinary team of people and then we signed artists that both Ahmet and Lyor would truly be proud of,” Greenwald said. For women in the music industry, being able to take that stage and receive these awards was a major feat for Jody Gerson, UMG’s CEO, who received the Executive of the Year award. The Executive of the Decade award was given to UMG's chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. “To me, what is most meaningful is that this is a recognition without qualifications,” she said. “I am being honored not as a female executive, but as an executive. It is my hope that this award will help pave the road for more exceptional and diverse leaders to come. We all deserve to be judged for our merits regardless of who you are or how you identify.”

Gerson also sits on the board of directors for She Is The Music (SITM), a program that promotes inclusivity in the music industry. Gerson revealed that UMG will donate $50,000 to the organization, which aims to provide resources for gender diversity in songwriting, producing, executive positions and more. In 2018, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative conducted a study on the lack of women representation in the music sector. The research, which was published in 2018, concluded that for the year of 2017 out of 651 producers only two percent were women while men dominated at 98 percent. In the songwriting world, out of 2,767 credited songwriters, 12.3 percent were women while 87.7 percent were men.

Now, with new sights and plans set to change the makeup of the industry, Gerson reiterated that there's no better time than the present to implement new practices. “The moment of change is here.”

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Allen Berezovsky

Lauren London Debuts The Marathon Clothing x Puma Collection

The Marathon Clothing and PUMA are teaming up once again. The brands will be collaborating in honor of the late Nipsey Hussle. His wife, Lauren London, debuted the Marathon Clothing x Puma’s “Hussle and Motivate” collection on social media on Thursday (Jan. 23).

London is featured in the line's campaign shoot with Hussle's close friends, YG, J. Stone, and Pacman Da Gunman. Per a press release: "After first releasing in September 2019, PUMA will re-issue key pieces from the collection for fans and supporters including co-branded tracksuits and t-shirts featuring checkered patterns and TMC motifs, as well as PUMA’s signature California sneakers in black and white iterations."

 

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#HussleAndMotivate

A post shared by Lauren London (@laurenlondon) on Jan 23, 2020 at 5:56pm PST

Another image from the clothing collaboration shows London wearing a white sweatshirt with a message that reads, “We (The Marathon Clothing) honor the unwavering faith of those that never quit. Our products represent their testimony. Life is a marathon.”

A portion of the net proceeds from PUMA’s sales of the PUMA x TMC Collection will go directly to the Neighborhood “Nip” Foundation. Beginning February 1st, the collection will be available again in select retailers and on PUMA's official website.

 

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#HussleAndMotivate

A post shared by Lauren London (@laurenlondon) on Jan 23, 2020 at 5:58pm PST

London previously linked with Puma for a viral video campaign paying tribute to her longtime love. Hustle, whose Victory Lap recently went platinum, will be celebrated at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards with a tribute featuring YG, Roddy Ricch, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, and John Legend.

The 2020 Grammy Awards will air on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Lil Wayne performs at the 2019 Outside Lands music festival at Golden Gate Park on August 09, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Lil Wayne Reveals Release Date For ‘Funeral’ Album

Four years after initially announcing the project, Lil Wayne took to Twitter on Thursday (Jan. 23) to reveal that his  Funeral album will drop next week.

“Welcome to the funeral, closed casket as usual,” Tunechi says in the album teaser. The Grammy winner also tweeted a link for fans to pre-order physical and digital copies of the album as a CD, vinyl or “digital cassette.” The online shop features album merchandise, including long-sleeved shirts, hoodies and beanies.

In a recent interview with VIBE, Lil Wayne said that even though his recording process has drastically changed since his prolific mixtape days, he still finds enjoyment in going to the studio to create.

“I love the difficulty of trying to fit in with what’s going on today, making sure I sound likable to the ears today and having to remind myself that it’s not about what it was back then. Going to the studio now, for me, is awesome. I used to go to that muf***a and do 12 songs a night. Cut a beat on, I’m going to go and you let me know when to stop,” Wayne said.

“...I can’t wait to get in the studio now every night, just to see what I can come up with. [Before] it was just me going to the studio and saying, let me kill ten more songs and then I’m going to go home or do whatever I was doing. Now, it’s let me see what I come up with. Self-discovery, rebirth – call it whatever you want to call it but it feels awesome, I swear to God.”

The New Orleans native’s last studio LP, Tha Carter V, dropped in 2018 after years of delays. In 2019, the 37-year-old rapper embarked on a joint summer tour with Blink-182, but the jaunt was marred by difficulty as Wayne walked off stage during one show and threatened to quit. He changed his mind hours later.

Even with all the tour trouble, Blink-182 had nothing but good things to say about Weezy. “The one day where he walked off stage, he had said, ‘I just felt like they didn’t like me,’ so he walked off stage,” drummer Travis Barker explained in an interview last year.

Funeral drops on Jan. 31. Check out the album teaser below.

1/31 https://t.co/7VtPC39vT6 pic.twitter.com/FQrLNA8ptn

— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) January 23, 2020

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