PREVIOUSLY POSTED TO AXS.COM
Multi-platinum R&B group, Dru Hill is nearing a two-decade run that has seen many ups and downs. These men have hard-earned a place within a Global culture, as legendary performers, who may very well be one of the greatest groups to have ever existed. A group that mixes Gospel with Soul and Contemporary R&B, sometimes adding a Hip Hop groove, has captured men and women alike. They knew how to dance. They knew how to sing. They knew how to dress. And, their videos had storylines, all unlike many artists of today!
The harmonies, the whaling front man, the dance, the emotions, these are elements one absorbs when experiencing Dru Hill. Notably, one member in particular gives Dru Hill a distinct sound due to his formal training in Opera and ability to scale many octaves. For these reasons, it is no wonder that this group still gives goosebumps to many loyal fans — even after all of these years! And what is even more surprising is that the group is still together and performing all over the World on a very active basis!
Jazz, Woody, Nokio, Sisqo. These names became so familiar with fans in the 90s and 2000s that you were looked at as if you were crazy for not knowing who they were. With many number one hits, we still hear their classics being played on the radio and in video games. We still hear them in the movies. We still reference them when conversing about real music and/or relationship subjects.
As a matter of fact, here are a few of their most popular songs. How many of them do you know?:
- “Tell Me”
- “In My Bed (and let’s not forget the remix)”
- “Never Make a Promise”
- “April Showers”
- “We’re Not Making Love No More”
- “How Deep is Your Love”
- “These are the Times”
- “5 Steps”
- “Wild, Wild West”
- “Bad Mamajama”
- “You are Everything“
- “I Love You”
- “I Should Be”
In the beginning, there was a group called Legacy. This group went through many phases and changes, before eventually catching the attention of those who would put them in the position to raise the standard for R&B groups in the 90s. They even becoming the formula that so many groups thereafter would pattern from. Shortly after being “discovered,” the group the World knows as Dru Hill was created and was narrowed down to include the members: Larry “Jazz” Anthony, James “Woody” Green, Tamir “Nokio” Ruffin and Mark “Sisqo” Andrews.
Dru Hill was a name given to the group in ode to Baltimore, where they all hailed from. Druid Hill Park was an area in West Baltimore and a very well known park at that!
Dru Hill dealt with many obstacles from the time their first album came out in 1996 through until the time the second album, Enter the Dru, blessed audiences in 1998. Much of it went unannounced in the media and did so very well, because in those days albums released singles over the course of two years and were still considered relevant. At this time, they also co-wrote and produced music for many upcoming artists, such as Mya, who went on to be an International success! Between the time second album and third album came out, however there was a lot going on with the group internally. No longer teenagers, Dru Hill grew and matured into their own men.
Sisqo, for example, wanted to take a shot at releasing his self-invested solo album, Unleash the Dragon, where he proclaimed his individuality to his fan base. He showed his loyalty to his brothers, while including them in his solo debut. It was this album that “Incomplete,” “So Sexual,” “Addicted,” and the infamous and pop-crossover hit “Thong Song” were released. He released a second album in 2001, Return of the Dragon, that had much controversy surrounding it. The Neptunes, who were rising in the ranks, appeared on this album with many other “knowns” and “lesser knowns.” But, most importantly, it featured yet another track with all the members in tact.
During this same time period, Woody also showed his individuality, as he returned to Gospel music in honor of his mother, who he once promised a Gospel album. It was her passing, as a matter of fact, that returned him to his roots in Gospel and brought him closer to his spirituality. Dru Hill, as the original group, also returned to the studio to collaborate on Woody’s solo project, Soul Music. Jazz and Nokio also worked on solo projects at this time. Many of their works appeared on award-winning movie soundtracks and allowed these artists to shine, as well!
Unsure at first if he would return to secular music, Woody did not rejoin Dru Hill in the commencement of the third and final project that they would all work together. Jazz was also rumored to have left the group at one point. This is when Rufus “Scola” Waller was accepted into the group as the newest member of Dru Hill. After few songs into recording the new album, Dru Hill became a five member group with Woody returning and Jazz firmly planted in front of the mic. In 2002, Dru World Order was released. This time, Dru Hill was released under Def Soul Recordings, as opposed to previous works with Island Records.
We didn’t know it then, but this was the last time we would see Woody or Scola on a Dru Hill album. After a few years of silence, Dru Hill had made a comeback with features on just about everyone’s albums and soundtracks between 1998 and 2002. And, when they returned, they continued touring before splitting up officially due to differences in the group.
In early 2008, the group appeared on WERQ, a Baltimore radio station, to promote their reunion to listeners. This interview, however, did not go as planned. Woody had been struggling since the night before to announce his decision that he would not be returning to the group and that his journey has taken him into another direction. Spirituality strengthened and the with faith and the passion to dedicate his life to a higher power, he bowed out of Dru Hill’s renunion and walked away from the Entertainment Business. It did cause conflict and embarrassment. However, the group rekindled their brotherhood, even inviting him to join them on stage to perform in later years.
Friction came over the remaining members of the group. Scola was no longer in the picture. And in 2009, Dru Hill was featured on Keith Sweat’s Platinum House, produced for Centric TV and later airing on BET. Platinum House was a reality show that acted as an intervention to bring the legendary group back together, including talking out problems, getting back into shape, working together as a group, appearances in public and vocal retraining. A contest was also held in search of a fourth member for the group. Enter Antwuan “Tao” Simpson.
In 2010, Dru Hill released their latest album, InDRUpendance Day. Some argue that the album is different than any other Dru Hill album. And, in fact it is. This album marks their first album released independently, hence the title of the album. It was also released on Sisqo’s Dragon Records record label. This album had a new sound. It incorporated trademark elements of Dru Hill music, but it also incorporated new trends in the music industry. Tagged on to “Old School” and “Family Reunion” tours, aimed at the grown and sexy, Dru Hill also toured the Globe once again with the InDRUpendance Day tour, making a comeback yet once again. This album featured singles, “Love MD” and “Back to the Future.”
With them since the beginning, Kevin Peck makes sure the i’s are all dotted and the t’s are all crossed. He has been a major hand in ensuring the success of all members, even managing in their solo careers, where their brand must be unique to Dru Hill as a whole. Making performances, as they have throughout the years, on televisions shows, reality shows and radio shows, these boys continue to promote good music and hard work and dedication. They hold no bars and hide nothing when it comes to telling their story and the hardships they have faced within their career journey.
Currently, the group is touring for their fifth album release, “The Second Coming,” with the new album on its way! Each member of the group works on individual projects, as well as with each other, to continue the legacy of Dru Hill. Nokio has become “edgier” over the years. Embracing style, he has adopted a futuristic look that has set a new signature for his image. He also the lead singer of a second group, a rock band, called “Black Angel Down.” BAD released a rock remix to Dru Hill’s “How Deep is Your Love” single and has been touring over the course of the last few years. Woody continues to make faith-based music, independently.
As for when the new album is to be released, there is no word yet. However, you can catch Dru Hill on tour in a city near you!