Yeah. We passed the ball to him just like a basketball team. As a matter of fact, our song that’s on iTunes right now off the album called “Remain Silent”–Nokio’s singing the first verse on that as well as some bonus material that we have on the album from Nokio’s solo project with his rock band, Black Angel Down and he’s singing all the leads on both of those as well.
Nokio’s in a rock band? So that explains the sudden style change, huh?
Yeah. Anybody that followed our group used to know him with the clean-cut Caesar haircut and then with this album you see whim come out with the big mohawk and everyone is like, What’s with the big image change. But he’s the lead singer in his rock band.
Okay, that was concerning some people.
That’s the thing with Dru Hill. We’ve always tried to be good musicians and not be pigeonholed into one type of music. When we first started everyone thought we were just an R&B group and then I broke out into the pop realm and now with Nokio’s project we have our hands in rock as well. So it’s just music in general. Even for “Thong Song,” I hired some people who played on Star Wars to play the orchestrated music on there. A lot of people thought it was a sample but that’s orchestrated music that I composed.
Was there ever a point in your career where you couldn’t stand hearing the “Thong Song?”
For the rest of my life I’m gonna be known as “thong guy” [and] beautiful women are gonna be coming up to me showing me they thong until my hair is really that [platinum] color [Laughs], so you can’t be but so mad. I’m not mad at all. It’s just one of those songs that’s gonna be around for ever and it’s only a handful of artists that can say that. So I would be shooting myself in the foot if I said that.
But still, the song got run into the ground. If you could do things over would you be known for a different song?
Nah. I’m a hetorosexual male that beautiful women are always trying to show me their underwear so who would be mad at that? [Laughs] It’s a lot of things you could be known for so if I’m known for that I’m cool with that.
You hate being called a one-hit-wonder but what were you up to while you were away?
I’ve had international success so whenever you may not have seen me in America, I may have been in Dubai doing something. Technically I never really stopped doing music. I just did it in different places. For instance, I shipped a million copies of my second album. I pretty much sold a million before I even sold a record. I was in America for my whole first album [but] when I got to Europe for my second album, it was an even bigger response for my second album than for my first one because they were so into what I was doing. My second album wasn’t really played a lot over here so people had the misconception that it flopped. But I sold three million records.
Do you still have beef with Usher and R. Kelly?
I don’t have any beef with anybody. I remember that. And it was weird because R Kelly had took a shot at me on a record that he had done, I think with Jay-Z, and that was weird because I had just saw him a couple of months before that and I was wondering what did I do for him to start taking shots at me. It was ironic because the album that he was taking shots at me on stopped selling because of the scandal that went down. Whatever he said, I just retaliated on a [Kay Slay] mixtape. It was crazy because I wasn’t gonna say anything but I just wanted them to know⎯as a matter of fact⎯MTV reported on it and they quoted something that said something like, “If you mess with a rattle snake, you’re bound to get bitten” [laughs]. And it was crazy because I learned how to write songs studying R Kelly in middle school. So when he took a shot at me I was hurt. Like, here’s somebody I look up to who took a shot at me over nothing. I didn’t do nothing to him. But then we squashed it. This was around the time that the scandal happened. I went on the radio and said I ain’t have no beef with R Kelly and I respect him. I felt like he was like a Marvin Gaye of our time with his song writing ability. He’s incredible. And then he turned around and put the same song on the last album and ironically, here’s the crazy part, his album got shut down in the exact same time period that he got shut down before. So karma is a motherfucker. Don’t mess with a child of God.
Nas took a shot at you too, right? Didn’t you have words for him?
Yeah, it was all on the same song.
Are you cool now?
Yeah. We were at MTV at the same time I had retaliated and he came up to me like, “Look man, I ain’t got no beef.” It was straight like that. So I was like, “Okay, we straight.”
Would you collab with him at this point?