Dru Hill Talks Music and Multiple Loves

Helese and Dru Hill
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Dru Hill performed at B.B. Kings on Saturday, August 24th and they reminded me that the importance of live performance in the is undeniable. All of the commitment to the craft comes to light on stage. The true test of a performing artist is the stage. Dru Hill passed with flying colors.

The members of Dru Hill are sex symbols in their own right. Jazz is like “Big Sexy,” a huggable teddy bear, Tao is a sensual thug (who can probably sing you to tantric orgasm), Sisqo is the dynamo and beating heart of the group, and then there’s Nokio, the mysterious and sexy mad scientist and producer.

When it came to wooing the ladies in the audience, they delivered, calling a woman up to the stage and singing to her while we all screamed like they were singing directly to us.

Jazz took us to church on his solo on the number one R&B single “Never Make a Promise.” When they performed “How Deep Is Your Love” I became overwhelmed with yang energy, and “These Are the Times” opened up my heart chakra immensely. “Beauty” took me down memory lane. It’s one of the most flattering, soothing and melodic songs ever written about the enchanting mystery of a woman.

They also covered equally unforgettable classics like Mint Condition’s “Pretty Brown Eyes,” Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady,” Blackstreet’s “Before I Let Go” and ended with a finale of their hit “5 Steps.” Although we wished they could bless us with more and more encores, we all left excited and full.

I was happy to talk to them about their many years in music and of course, love.

Why the long absence? Nokio explains that when they got back together in 2008, they had to transition from restructuring the group to touring, letting Tao find his niche in the group. He didn’t mention his brother, former group member Woody, and I didn’t ask.  He was a foundation and always remembered by fans who have been supporting Dru Hill from day one. Tonight was all about the now, being present, and celebrating the future that fans will help to create with their love and appreciation.

Not to analyze all of their previous hits because we all know of their impact and how they touched our hearts. But I think it’s important to remember one of the reasons why we ever fell in love with Dru Hill’s music in the first place: the honesty and emotional vulnerability expressed in their lyrics. I think they were ahead of their time when it comes to artistically representing relationships. “These Are The Times” is a perfect example of unconditional love with the line, “no pressure from you, and none from me.” Isn’t that what we all want in our relationships and in our lives…freedom?

“I Love You,” accompanied by a heartbreaking video, gives the most beautiful line by someone expressing their true capability of lasting love: “even though I said that you should leave me, I want another chance just to adore you.” Isn’t that what true worship is? Gratefully accepting the opportunity to simply bask in the other person’s presence?

Speaking of relationships… “You guys are sex symbols,” I ask. How do you feel about new paradigm relationships, like poly and open relationships?”

Tao answers first, “I go with the flow.”  Previously married, having experienced a long term relationship, and now single, he goes on to express a Zen stance on the topic: “live how you live, as long as you're happy.” This is the little known secret to a long and stress-free life: don’t judge.

Jazz playfully sang his answer, “Jazz is the man when it comes to ladies…!” a bit of a verse from one of their songs entitled “I’ll Be the One.” He explains that he’s been around the world, and each situation defines itself... “Many people don’t feel they wanna be tied down.” Of his own experience with relationships he says, “Being a star, there were points where I couldn't lock anyone down. It depends on the relationship,” he concludes.

Sisqo kept it pure and simple in his B-More accent “I’m married to music, I love her.”

And Nokio, ever a man of few words calmly states, “I plead the 5th.”  He’s a private person who “loves women.” Quiet as it’s kept, still waters run the deepest. (Ok I’m biased, I always fall for the quiet ones.)

I asked Sisqo, what was up with the country music reality show? Was it just a matter of jumping on the reality show bandwagon? “It was the highest rated show in Country Music Channel’s history.” He did it to prove a valid point. “I’m a musician, and it’s about the music.” He goes on to explain that a lot of general audiences were looking at him as “Sisqo the Rapper,” but no person who has followed Sisqo’s career could ever say that he’s ever been anything other than the quintessential modern R&B singer.

The latest album InDRUpendence Day begins with dance oriented songs like “Do It Again” tinged with auto-tune and turns into a more classic and familiar type of R&B with “What You Do.” I liked it a few seconds in, and the cherry on top is the nasty little rap by Nokio. Sexy slow jams on the album begin with “State of Emergency,” a song enriched with all kinds of much appreciated sexual innuendos and double meanings. “Remain Silent” narrates a naughty arrest, a call for submission which speaks to the deepest part of a woman as she is commanded to “spread ‘em.” “Love MD” segues smoothly into the part of the album where the guys pour out their hearts and lay it all on the line to save their relationships. The album ends with a refreshing cover of “Rule the World.” It’s spiritual, humanitarian, and all about love. Tao helps close the song by performing a beautiful run in his powerful soprano (notes I can only hit when in the pinnacle of ecstasy).

Despite them leaving us for a while, when it comes to classics that stand through time, vocal talent, artistic growth as musicians, and a relatable style that millions of fans have come to love, Dru Hill is the truth. Nokio sums it up in a few words on his speech in “Rule the World:” we’ve come a long way as a group…this signifies unity. And please--don’t call it a comeback.

Photo: Helese and Dru Hill Tao, Jazz, Nokio, and Sisqo. Taken by Calico Olu.

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