Dru Hill have shattered sales records and racked up numerous awards. Their singles have soared to the top of the charts, their albums have sold in the millions and they’ve set the gold standard for R&B. So, after all the number one hits, the platinum CDs, the awards and the love, what could Dru Hill possibly do to top themselves?
Do it again.
Dru World Order is the eagerly anticipated third album from one of R&B’s most popular and successful acts. Featuring the emotional new single”I Should Be”, and production and songwriting contributions from Case, TQ, Everyday and Dru Hill, Dru World Order is the album fans have been waiting for and Dru Hill has always wanted to create. “I really feel that this album is our best effort to date,” “declares Sisqo. “We all came to the project really focused and with more energy, intensity and desire and you can hear it.”
“In many ways this record is a new start,” chimes in Nokio, who handled the majority of the production. “It wasn’t a record we were obligated to make, it was something we really wanted to do.”
Wanted to do but waited to do as well. It has been four years since Enter the Dru, the group’s multi platinum sophomore CD. The reason for the long hiatus? Woody offers,”People had things to deal with in their own lives. We all needed time to do that and then be able to come back fresh. We had solo projects (Woody’s Soul Music album and Sisqo’s Unleash the Dragon and Return of Dragon), but finally we had the opportunity to come together.”
“It was just time,” says Nokio. “but more than that it was the call from the street and from the fans. Everyone who had supported us over the past four years and from the very beginning. Making another record was one of those things that you couldn’t prevent. All roads were leading to it.”
Dru Hill started down the road towards Dru World Order with renewed enthusiasm, wisdom, confidence and a new member. Joining the foursome is long time B-More friend and musical collaborator, Scola. Although Dru World Order marks Scola’s DH debut he has been down with the fellows from the very beginning, but due to contractual issues, was prohibited from recording with his friends. ” We were always tight, “Scola offers.”In many ways I was always there, I w as the ghost fifth member.” Scola officially joined Dru Hill in 2001, right about the time the group decided to enter the studio. Say Nokio,”He came over and started singing and that was pretty much it. He’d written songs on Woody’s album and done production work with me, so he already had the Dru Hill Sound.”
The new Dru Hill was undaunted by industry expectations or the pressures of a comeback. “We weren’t nervous,”Nokio explains, “because we left off at a high point and it never went anywhere. Nobody ever came and knocked down that bar we set. There’s not much pressure, it’s just making sure we retain and maintain what makes Dru Hill.” “I love it!” laughs Sisqo.”I like the pressure. We’ve always had that driving force, that energy. That constant movement.”
And as for any fears as to how Dru Hill might fit into the current R&B trends Nokio shrugs,”All of our music is emotions. It’s real life and that doesn’t ever go out of style.”
Those sort of timeless emotions are evident on the lead off single “I Should Be”. The passionate mid tempo love song, was written by new comers Everyday, who Dru Hill discovered at a Baltimore talent show. “We saw these guys on stage,” Sisqo recalls, “and they were good. They kinda reminded me of us and after they performed they handed us a CD of their material. I played it and one of the songs was “I Should Be”. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was a hit.” In an age of big name producers and starmaking songwriters, handing the creative reigns over to unknowns was a gutsy move. Sisqo dismisses the concerns. “A lot of times people go for the most expensive producers, the hottest guys, but by having Nokio, who produced 80 percent of the album, we didn’t have to look elsewhere. We are self-contained, because we have writers and producers in the group. It was cool that these young guys could come up with a track that embodied that youthful feel and energy, and for us to have a song that wasn’t by well-known guys. Just four kids from Baltimore. They captured the Dru Hill spirit.”
More of that spirit is felt on “Xstacey Jones”, which Sisqo exclaims is “Phenomenal!” Written by Nokio, TQ and Case, and produced by Nokio, “Xstacey Jones” is a sexy love ballad that deals with the mind games played between lovers. Another sensual ballad is “She Said” featuring Chinky of LovHer. Offers Nokio, who wrote and produced the song, “She Said” is a different vibe than you might get from an ordinary ballad because it talks about a man talking to another woman about his woman and the comforting feelings that arises from that situation. Everyone who has heard the song is really touched by the depth of the emotions.” Emotions of another variety are explored on the rugged “On Me” which was written and produced by Nokio, Sisqo and Scola. Featuring a sizzling cameo from Noreaga, “On Me” is a straight up, gangsta club banger.
The versatility to rock the house and whisper sweet nothings has always been at the core of Dru Hill. Named after Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, Dru Hill started singing together while they were barely in their teens. In 1992 the group’s soaring harmonies and musicality, (each of the guys plays several instruments), caught the attention of a local manager and by 95 word of their talent had made its way to then President of Island Black Music, Hiram Hicks. Hicks asked the teens to record “Tell Me”, which was included on the Eddie soundtrack. The single went platinum, became a Top 20 pop hit and hit the top of the R&B charts, becoming the first of a string of Dru Hill singles to do so. Dru Hill released their debut album Dru Hill in 1996.The album was an immediate smash, selling over a million copies and yielding hits “In My Bed (Billboard’s #1 single for 1997) “Never Make a Promise”-the group’s third consecutive#1 R&B chart topper- and the gold single “We’re Not Making Love”, which was a Top 5 pop and R&B smash.
The group toured extensively around the world and in 1998 was invited to perform at a special celebration for then President Nelson Mandela’s 80th birthday in South Africa.
That same year Dru Hill dropped their sophomore CD Enter the Dru , which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The CD yielded the hits “How Deep Is Your Love” and “These Are The Times”, both of which hit the top of the charts. In 1999 Dru Hill appeared on Will Smith’s hit “Wild Wild West.”
Later in 1999 Sisqo released his multi platinum solo debut Unleash The Dragon that contained the international smash “Thong Song”. In 2001 Sisqo followed up that success with the best selling Return Of Dragon. “Even though we did solo stuff, the plan always was for us to get back together, “Sisqo says.”I’d always bring it in up in interviews, it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment.”
Asked what the difference is this time around and the guys are thoughtful. “We’ve learned how to deal with and respect each other,” Jazz says. “We each had our chance to shine and now coming back together it’s made us that much stronger.” “I’m really impressed by the versatility of the vocal arrangements this time,” Sisqo offers.”In the past most of our songs featured either Jazz or myself on lead but now this is the biggest group effort we’ve ever made. Everybody is singing and to me it’s comparable to what the Temptations did.”
Revitalized, renewed and blessed with a collection of honest, emotional songs, Dru Hill is poised to regain their crown by doing what they do best.”It’s like what the intro says,” Nokio smiles. “‘Love me or hate me. I’m gonna take you back to the beginning.’ ”
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