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.