Where Does Dru Hill Fit In The Pantheon of Great Male R&B Groups? » VSB

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Where Does Dru Hill Fit In The Pantheon of Great Male R&B Groups?

Sometimes, I feel like Dru Hill gets lost in the sauce. When having discussions about great R&B male groups from the 90s (and 2000s), Jodeci is typically the gold-standard, and while Boyz II Men is pretty much a snoozefest in retrospect, their accomplishments cannot be ignored. New Edition is, well, New Edition despite being of questionable vocal abilities. Of course, the world’s greatest R&B group, Jagged Edge, released several albums back then and continue to regale us with wonderful harmonies and love, but for the sake of argument, I’ll acknowledge my bias and not put them at the top of the list.

Back to Dru Hill. I wasn’t really a fan of them…at first. This was for a few reasons: 1) Sisqo REALLY sounds like K-Ci from Jodeci and 2) I didn’t like “Tell Me” when it dropped. Because of those two reasons I didn’t give two shits about no Dru Hill. But folks were buying that album left and right in high school and then I heard the “In My Bed” So So Def Remix with Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat and it was fire. So I said, “Hey, that was fire.”

Then I remember seeing the video for “5 Steps” and being all sad and shit because dude died in the building fire and wondering if the video truly matched the song but realizing how awesome the song was despite this and some questionable songwriting and acknowledging just how strong a singer Sisqo was. Plus, when I took a step back, “Tell Me” wasn’t really a bad song and it had the little jumping dance that I could do pretty much anywhere, which in retrospect was really thoughtful of them. Like, you absolutely cannot just Milly Rock on any block. It’s just not feasible.

Anyway, objectively speaking, Dru Hill had quite the run, even if their chart success doesn’t quite tell their whole story. For instance, they have no pop chart number one singles, though they hit number one on the R&B charts three times. Oddly enough, their highest pop chart single was 1998’s “How Deep Is Your Love” reaching number four on the charts. Forget the charts though, here is the murderer’s row list of Dru Hill singles:

“Tell Me”, “In My Bed”, “In My Bed” (Remix), “5 Steps”, “Never Make A Promise”, “We’re Not Making Love No More”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, “These Are The Times”, “Beauty”, “I Should Be…”, “You Are Everything”, etc.

All charted even if they never reached the top slot, however, just look at that damn list. There’s not a single slum song on there. You could literally karaoke that ENTIRE list of songs and feel like you had the best night ever.

This next statement is going to be debateable, but I’d wager that Sisqo is one of the best singers ever in R&B. I’m not saying he’s the best – a distinction I’d happily place upon Luther – but he’s up there. The ONLY caveat to that is that I do think he sounds too much like K-Ci Hailey. In fact, Dru Hill’s songs “You Are Everything” and “The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind)” sound like they were ripped right out of the K-Ci and JoJo handbook, especially the latter. Sisqo was out here doing K-Ci vocal runs like nobody would notice and the group harmonies sound like them Hailey boys. If you told me K-Ci and JoJo passed on it first, I’d believe you. Sisqo’s voice isn’t quite as heavy as K-Ci’s (Urban Mystic is the only other singer who I feel comes close to pulling off K-Ci). But Sisqo can sang, not just sing.

You know what else always was curious about Dru Hill to me? This is totally random, but, why did the group let Sisqo say his name so much in songs? Like, did they not get to hear the final versions before they went to mastering or something? If I was in a group and one person kept saying his own name in our GROUP songs, I’d have been pissed.

Here’s another thing: every (mostly every) member of Dru Hill was immensely talented. Woody and Jazz could definitely sing, Nokio produced and seemed to be really cool, Scola showed up and could sing, I don’t really know what the new, new dude, Tao, does, and Sisqo is Sisqo, even if his greatest musical legacy on planet Earth is “The Thong Song,” which, I imagine could be worse. For instance, MC Brains greatest contribution is “Oochie Coochie.” I’m guessing he didn’t quite make the Cleveland Artists Hall of Fame for that one.

The larger poing here is this: Dru Hill was a very talented R&B group whose discography includes some classic records, REALLY dope albums in Dru Hill and Enter the Dru,  some awesome videos, a line that says “swallow you like Reese’s pieces”, and a period piece video starring Lark Voorhees that I’m pretty sure was supposed to be based on The Three Musketeers but firmly cemented each member of Dru Hill’s inability to act, especially Sisqo, which, I mean, is awesome in its own right. But more importantly, they just sounded damn good. Their acapella singing and the runs they did at the end of songs rivals anybody save for Boyz II Men. Ain’t nobody thinking about Shai in 2017 and they owe their entire career to the acapella version of “If I Ever Fall in Love”.

They had more albums than Jodeci but clearly aren’t anywhere near as influential, were way less corny than Boyz II Men but didn’t have the hits though I’d wager that their songs are better, save for “End of the Road” which deserves all of the accolades it received, plus, when I feel like singing for money on the streets, that’s my go to. I get paid to stop but a payday is a payday, amirite? They’re clearly not better than New Edition who pretty much fathered all of these groups.

I’m not creating this three horse race for best 90s R&B male group, but I rarely hear people mention them when we talk about 90s groups and I’d wager that they’re better than almost every other group but Jodeci. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe, not as good as Mint Condition who has arguably one of the most signature 90s R&B songs in “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”. Their greatest hits album was cool and shit but it sure as shit had better be because “greatest hits”. They’re better than Silk, 112, (arguably) Jagged Edge (I know, I know), H-Town, etc.

Perhaps I’m being biased because I really like singing along and Sisqo was such a grand talent. Shit, maybe more people think they’re one of the greats than I hear in the circles I run in, so maybe I need new circles. Perhaps even ovals. But I don’t know. Where does Dru Hill belong? Should they be mentioned along with the 90s greats?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • miss t-lee

    I keep feeling like some of y’all want Dru Hill to be much better than they were.
    They get lost in the sauce because they deserve to.
    I preferred Sisqo’s solo stuff to any Dru Hill song.
    Better than H-Town? NERP.
    I also hated their cover version of one of my all time favorite songs by The Dells.

    • panamajackson

      Wait wait…you legit think H-Town was better than Dru Hill? H-Town has a total of THREE songs most people can name. Tops. And I liked H-Town’s songs, but how are they a better group than Dru Hill?

      • miss t-lee

        Yes.
        and Yes again.

    • pls

      BYE!

    • D-Nice

      I thought the first Dru Hill album was pretty great, from beginning to end. The subsequent albums not as great, but some high points. And, of course “We’re Not Making Love No More” is an absolute classic. I will say that I always thought Sisqo was an amazing singer, and I don’t think he always gets the credit he deserves. Maybe it was the platinum hair or the fact that his first big solo song (The Thong Song) was pretty corny. But, that boy can sang.

      • miss t-lee

        He can definitely sing. “Incomplete” was and still is a fave.

  • OweMeOne Kenobi

    I think Dru Hill suffers from sisqo being such a major talent. I’d wager there are a lot of people who forget he was even a group, much less the name of said group, until you bring it up. Only a couple of their songs engage the group enough that they don’t sound like Sisqo and The Background Vocals.

    • Val

      “…sisqo being such a major talent.”

      Lol Whew, that’s was funny. Thanks.

      • panamajackson

        How can you disagree with that statement? Sisqo, for all of his eccentricities, was/is a great singer.

        • Val

          Major talent tho? When I think of people considered “a major talent” I think Prince, MJ, Aretha, etc.

          Sisqo had a major hit and is still riding it and good for him but I can’t consider him “a major talent”, PJ.

      • cynrose

        Is the disagreement with the idea that Sisqo was miles ahead of the rest
        of the group? The group as a whole was pretty balanced. That’s my only
        real quibble with the original statement.

        Sisqo was definitely a
        major STAR, though, in many ways to Dru’s detriment. I think that is
        what OweMeOne Kenobi was really getting at. The group couldn’t or
        wouldn’t make music without him, but none of the
        other members made any efforts to do their own thing either. (No,
        Woody’s gospel doesn’t count.) When people make one-hit wonder lists
        they often forget to even mention his time with Dru Hill as an aside,
        probably because it gets in the way of the whole ‘one hit wonder’ thing.
        Well, they also clearly forget that Sisqo wasn’t a one-hit wonder even
        as a soloist, but that’s another story. OHW lists are a pet peeve of
        mine for various reasons.

        • Val

          Please see my response to PJ.

    • Lamar Latrell

      In discussing this with someone right now, he thought that dru hill *was* sisqo

  • Lisss

    “Boyz II Men is pretty much a snoozefest in retrospect”
    No Boyz II Men slander will be tolerated. How dare you, sir?
    *goes back to reading the rest of the article*

    • she

      Low key I want to get married just so I can play Boyz II Men songs at my reception, who wants to hear all that yelling by Sisqo and them boyz at their matrimony?

      • pls

        as opposed to all those annoying runs wanya does throughout the entire song? no build up at all.

        • mssporadic

          Oh no….you will not come for Wanya!!!!!

          • She did.. and on the Good Lord’s Friday!!

            • mssporadic

              Mad disrespectful.

          • pls

            You know you don’t know what he be sayinnnnn!

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        • Michael

          see that was rude and unnecessary ma’am

      • SororSalsa

        Agreed. Sisqo can sing, but he’s like a blowtorch….just scorches everything and leaves nothing behind. If he could pull it back, I could take him, but he never does.

        • This is my exact problem with him!

          “Beauty” is such a pretty song because he doesn’t oversing on it…That is my favorite song by them..I couldn’t STAND “Tell Me”!

    • theaythmonth

      My sentiments exactly! Thank you!

    • D-Nice

      Does anyone else like “II” MUCH better than “Cooleyhighharmony”? I mean, I like both and have very fond memories of both, but I can still listen to II. Cooley surprisingly hasn’t aged well for me, save for a couple of songs.

      • II was AMAZING.. Water Runs Dry is a masterpiece… Trying Times… And their version of Yesterday…… showed erebody that musical education made them what they were… a whole lot of people sing without understanding theory… You can tell they were classically trained on that album from the intricacies of the harmonies alone.

        • D-Nice

          I even like the album cuts off “II” like “U Know” and “Vibin” and I LOVE that beautiful “Khalil” interlude (“No one to guide me, I’m all alone …”). Great album.

      • Overtymem Usicradio

        II was beautiful. Perfection.

      • IPC

        II is perfection in it’s entirety.

    • Overtymem Usicradio

      There are times when I wonder if Panama’s account was hacked.

    • IPC

      I truly came on here just to say BITCH, HOW DARE YOU? on the Boyz II Men trash talk.

  • Jennifer

    “Tell Me”, “In My Bed”, “In My Bed” (Remix), “5 Steps”, “Never Make A Promise”, “We’re Not Making Love No More”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, “These Are The Times”, “Beauty”, “I Should Be…”, “You Are Everything”, etc.

    Man, I didn’t realize how many Dru Hill songs I knew.

    • siante

      Me neither, & I’ve 2 stepped to so many of these at so many bbq’s

  • thamonsta

    Based on the article, it makes it hard to disagree with how good they are in the pantheon. This makes me think they are number 3. I got Boyz II Men, Jodeci, and Dru Hill.

  • MsKeisha23
  • pls

    Jazz was my absolute sh*t! His vocals on “I love you” and the lift he had in the Tell Me video made me realize I could be with a chubby lover.

    • Hbeez

      I love that song…I feel like I might be the only person that loved the Dru World Order album

  • miss t-lee

    Plus…none of them dudes were cute.
    Can’t be top anything if you ain’t got something for the ladies to swoon over.

    • Glo

      New Edition wasn’t that cute either. The actors that played them in that TV special were infinitely cuter.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        “New Edition wasn’t that cute either”
        LIES!!
        Tell this to all the girls in my neighborhood that would fight over who was cuter…Ralph or Ronnie

        • Quirlygirly

          I was one of the girls who would fight over Ronnie..He was so Fooine!!

          • miss t-lee

            I’ll still fight over Ronnie…lol

            • orchid921

              Grabbing Vaseline and taking off earrings…. ??????

              • miss t-lee

                *putting hair up in a ponytail*

            • cdj

              He was mine, too. I think he has aged the best also.

              • miss t-lee

                You hear? Him and Shamari are having twins! :)

          • mssporadic

            I just realized he was fine. If I could find a regular schmegular dude like him today, I’d be crooning “Let’s Get Married” to him!

            Back then I was #TeamRicky. Something about him caressing that tiger in the Something in Your Eyes video.

        • Glo

          I’ll give you Ralph, but the rest of them? Nah.

      • miss t-lee

        This is high comedy.

      • pls

        Back then we didn’t know celebrities weren’t the most attractive humans on earth; very low standards. Myspace and Facebook helped us see the bad lil joints on the other side of town.

      • mssporadic

        They were cute. It’s just that the 80s were rough on everybody. The actors are fine though.

      • They weren’t…lol

    • panamajackson

      The 60s, 70s, and 80s would disagree with you.

      • miss t-lee

        We’re talking about the 90s.
        The bold claims you made…lol

        • panamajackson

          My point is that attractiveness has never been the bar to ladies swooning.

          • miss t-lee

            So you think.

      • Glo

        When I was a kid, I thought the Temptations looked just like the dudes that played them in the movie. When I saw a pic of the real thing for the first time, I was so upset.

    • pls

      JAZZ WAS CUTE!

    • smellslikegrownasswomanspirit

      That was my issue with Silk. The lead dude had a frog/tortoise thing going with his face. He could sang tho.https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BueASOkIIAAMWsn.jpg

      • miss t-lee

        Yeah, dude in the teal suit was probably the best looking one out that bunch….and that ain’t saying much…lol

        • RaeRae

          Kinda like Sharane being the finest girl at the party in the movie House Party. That whole scene continues to crack me up after all these years.

          • miss t-lee

            Girl…lol

      • siante

        I appreciate the days when you didn’t have to look like much, as long as you had talent.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Many of the albums you know and love would not have been made if looks were a requirement.

      • Silk was the SHYT BUT UGLAAAAAAY

  • Sigma_Since 93

    I’d put Dru Hill #4 behind
    N.E. / Jodeci
    Mint Contiton

  • They should get a mention but not at the tippy tippy top. The first cd was really good, including a cover of “Love’s Train” complete with Keith Sweat background vocals. The joint from the Soul Food soundtrack, “We’re Not Making Love” and “Beauty” were also great songs. Kind of fell of after that with me.

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