Dru Hill Adds R&B Veterans Playa To Group, Announce New Album: Exclusive
R&B mainstays Dru Hill are extending its roster in a major way with the addition of fellow soul group Playa just in time for their forthcoming album, The Second Coming.
Jawann “Smoke” Peacock and Benjamin “Black” Bush have joined the group on the heels of the departure of Larry “Jazz” Anthony. The group, still sharing the stage name of Dru Hill will now be comprised of Smoke, Black, Tamir “Nokio” Ruffin, Mark “Sisqo” Andrews and Antwuan “Tao” Simpson as Jazz focuses on his career as a solo artist.
Playa came into fruition in the early 90s with the help of Jodeci’s Devante Swing. The late producer Static Major was also apart of the group, who worked closely with Timbaland to release their stand out track, “Cheers 2 U.” The song spent 17 weeks on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts in 1998.
In a statement to VIBE, the group shared their excitement of what’s to come along with their long-standing brotherhood.
“While Jazz is working on solo endeavors, it only made sense to come together with our brothers,” they said. “Not many people know this, but we met way back in 1998 when we all played the Ladies Night Out tour and Playa was a trio. We’ve been family ever since. When we stepped on that stage with Dru Hill for the first time this year, it was instant magic. We knew right away that this was where we all belonged.”
When it comes to their newfound union, Smoke explained how they plan to blend their unique flavor of R&B and soul.
“We are bringing our churchy, soulful vocals— which is the foundation of Playa’s legacy— and adding them to the legacy of Dru Hill,” Smoke tells VIBE. “I feel like we bring a whole other concept of harmonies and melodies to the table. And not only that, we’re writers, producers, and arrangers. The vocals that Aaliyah came within the 90s, the overall feel of Drake’s Take Care album, we were a big part of making that happen and we’re only going to keep innovating with Dru Hill on this next project. For me, The Second Coming is definitely the resurrection of real R&B. Fans should get ready because as of this fall, R&B is no longer dead.”
Their first performance as the supergroup will kick off Saturday (Aug. 11) at the AFRAM Festival in Baltimore which will also feature Ella Mai and Jacquees. It’s also the first time ever Dru Hill will perform in Druid Hill Park, where they famously got their name.
R&B supergroups have been a winning formula for the genre. Some notable supergroups include LSG comprised of the late Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, and New Edition’s Johnny Gill. There’s also the infamous TGT which included Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank. The elusive Lucy Pearl that featured Raphael Saadiq, A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and former EnVouge songstress Dawn Robinson kept the trend fresh.
The Second Coming will be released under their own label, Dru Hill Entertainment this fall. The project is produced by Grammy-winning writer and producer Troy Taylor of Songbook Entertainment. Known for his work with Boyz II Men, Mary J. Blige, and B2K, he helped curate the career of Trey Songz and most recently, R&B newcomer Kevin Ross.
Dru Hill’s previous release under their label was the critically acclaimed holiday EP, Christmas in Baltimore in 2017.
With R&B more defiant than ever, the supergroup is bound to bring all the nayhoos we’ve been craving.