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Dru Hill

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Dru Hill
Background information
Also known asLegacy, 14K Harmony, Storm
OriginBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Years active1992–1999
Smoke E. Digglera
Digital Black
Past membersWoody

Dru Hill is an American R&B group, whose repertoire included soul, hip hop soul and gospel music. The group was founded in Baltimore in 1992 by Tamir "Nokio the N-Tity" Ruffin, and as of 2023, is still active. Dru Hill recorded seven top 40 hits, and is best known for the R&B number-one hits "In My Bed", "Never Make a Promise" and "How Deep Is Your Love". Its original members were lead singer Mark "Sisqó" Andrews, Tamir "Nokio" Ruffin, Larry "Jazz" Anthony and James "Woody" Green. The group achieved popularity in the mid 1990s.

Signing to Island Records through A. Haqq Islam's University Records imprint, the group released two successful albums, Dru Hill and Enter the Dru, before separating for a period from late 1999 to 2002, during which time Sisqó and Woody released solo albums. Dru Hill was influenced by the Dragon and Asian culture, as displayed in their wardrobe and logo. While Woody's album, Soul Music, was a moderate success in the gospel music industry, Sisqó's debut album, Unleash the Dragon, and its hit singles, "Thong Song" and "Incomplete", were major pop successes, and established Sisqó as a household name outside of Dru Hill. Sisqó's second album, Return of Dragon, did not perform as well.

In 2002, by then part of the Def Soul record label, following a merger between Island, sister label Def Jam Recordings and Universal Music Group, the group reunited and added fifth member Scola to the lineup for their third album, Dru World Order; after that album underperformed the group met with Island Def Jam president L.A. Reid about a follow-up. When the group failed to develop their fourth album, Def Jam cited the group as non-productive and destructive, having dropped the group from Def Soul in 2004. In 2009, the group signed to Kedar Entertainment Group and released their fourth album, InDRUpendence Day, the following year, with new member Tao taking the place of the again departed Woody.


Early career[edit]

The members of Dru Hill are natives of Baltimore. The group became known getting jobs at The Fudgery, a local fudge factory at Harborplace at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, beginning a store tradition of singing and performing to entertain guests while making fudge.[2] The group's name comes from Baltimore's Druid Hill Park, which is commonly shortened in the local vernacular to "Dru Hill".[3]

Self-titled debut album (1996)[edit]

After scoring a deal with Island Black Music, an urban, "Black market-targeted" division of Island Records in 1994, two years later, on November 19, 1996, the group released their eponymous debut album. It peaked at number twenty-three on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell over one million copies by the summer of 1997. It scored major hits like "In My Bed", "Tell Me" and "Never Make a Promise".[4]

Success, guest appearances and Island Records dispute[edit]

Between their first and second albums, Dru Hill contributed "We're Not Making Love No More", a number 2 R&B and number 13 pop hit, to the Soul Food soundtrack. "We're Not Making Love No More" was written and produced by producer Babyface. Dru Hill and rapper Foxy Brown recorded "Big Bad Mama", a remake of Carl Carlton's 1981 hit "She's a Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked)", which was the main single for the soundtrack to the 1997 Bill Bellamy film Def Jam's How to Be a Player. The group was also instrumental in writing and producing for new University artist Mýa, whose first two singles "It's All About Me" and "Movin' On", were co-written by Sisqó, who also performs guest vocals on "It's All About Me".[5]

In 1997, Dru Hill filed a lawsuit against Island Records, seeking a release from its contract, after an Island employee hit one of the group's managers, Keith Ingram, over the head with a pool cue.[6] It was discovered that the employee in question had a criminal record. At an October 1997 deposition hearing, Eric Kronfeld, president and chief operating officer of Island's parent company PolyGram, was asked why he had hired such an individual. His response was that if he were not to hire African-Americans with criminal records, then "there would be virtually no African-Americans employees in our society or in our industry."[7]

Kronfield's remarks set off a wave of controversy when word of them reached the media in November. The Reverend Jesse Jackson became personally involved, publicly stating that the Dutch-based PolyGram had "a pattern of race and sex exclusion."[6] Jackson met with PolyGram chairman Alain Levy and several other executives, who issued a public apology for Kronfield's statement, and replaced Kronfield as president with Motown Records' chairman Clarence Avant.[8] By the end of the month, Dru Hill had settled with Island Records, and issued a joint statement with the label, stating in the agreement that they would remain on the label.[9][10]

Enter the Dru (1998), Island Def Jam merger, Woody's departure and Sisqó's solo success[edit]

Dru Hill's third top 20 pop hit came in the form of 1998's "How Deep Is Your Love" (Pop #3), which was included on the soundtrack to the Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker film Rush Hour. The single "This Is What We Do", featuring a guest rap from Method Man, set the tone for the group's second album, Enter the Dru.[11] The album featured several other mid-tempo tracks in the vein of "How Deep Is Your Love", as well as the R&B top 5 single "These are the Times" (Pop #21), co-written and co-produced by Babyface, and featuring guitar work from Atlanta-based session guitarist and former Earth Wind & Fire member Dick Smith. The album was released on October 27, 1998. It peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold two million copies by May 1999.[12][13]

After PolyGram (parent company of Island) was acquired by Seagram on December 10, 1998,[14] thus PolyGram's music division was merged with MCA Records to become what is known today as Universal Music Group. Then, on New Year's Eve, Island Records' operations as a label was combined with sister labels Mercury Records and Def Jam Recordings to become The Island Def Jam Music Group. As a result, Island Black Music was folded, soon after Island and Mercury's R&B and hip hop rosters were transferred to Def Jam and thus, Dru Hill was moved to its R&B division of Def Soul, having found a new label home. However, after a shooting incident at a concert in Paris that almost costed two lives of its entourage, member Woody Rock decided to part ways with the group.[15] Later that year, Dru Hill released a remix of "You Are Everything", featuring rapper Ja Rule, and recorded a version of "Enchantment Passing Through" for the soundtrack to the Broadway musical Aida, which was also featured on Sisqó's solo debut album Unleash the Dragon, which was later released in November 1999. The album had a minor hit with his first single, "Got to Get It" featuring Make It Hot. His second single, "Thong Song", became a major hit during the spring of 2000, and his third, "Incomplete", became a number-one hit during the summer.

The group made the final appearance of that year on the title track to the western comedy film Wild Wild West, starring the track's leading performer, Will Smith.

Dru World Order (2002) and Def Soul issues[edit]

Before the group's third album came into fruition, Dru Hill began having problems internally. Sisqó's success as a solo artist had hampered the group.[16][17] Def Jam president Kevin Liles, a fellow Baltimore native, pressured the group for a comeback album and a few solo follow-ups, but it never fully materalized. Jazz was supposed to release a solo debut album in 2001 after having recorded it between 1999 and 2000, but due to issues with Lyor Cohen, another top Def Jam executive, the album was shelved and Jazz was dropped from the Def Soul division as a solo artist.[18] Nokio focused on his work as a producer, having produced for DMX ("What These Bitches Want"), Foxy Brown ("Na Na Be Like") and others. In 2000, Sisqó and Nokio formed the label, Dragon Records, and signed a girl group named LovHer. Then, on June 19, 2001, Sisqó released his sophomore solo album, Return of Dragon, but it performed poorly, causing Dru Hill's comeback for the year to be postponed.[19] After releasing his solo gospel album, Soul Music, in May, and with a new agreement with Def Jam, Dru Hill decided to invite Woody back into the fold while adding a new member, Rufus "Scola" Waller" to the group as its fifth inductee. Dru World Order was finished by July and finally released on November 26, 2002, two years after its planned release. Nearly all of the album's tracks were produced by Nokio, who sung lead on the tracks "She Said" and "Men Always Regret". Producers such as Bryan Michael Cox, Eric "Nealante" Phillips and Kwamé also made contributions. Most of the album's tracks featured Sisqó, Jazz, Woody, and Scola sharing the leads, including the lead single "I Should Be...". "I Should Be..." was a top thirty pop hit and a top ten R&B hit, respectively.

By August 2003, promotion and marketing for the album died down as Def Jam signed another boy band to its Def Soul imprint, 112, helping to support their upcoming fourth album at the time, Hot & Wet.[20] Because of this, Dru Hill felt frustrated and decided to take another hiatus until issues would have been resolved. Throughout 2004, their label situation worsened when Liles and Cohen left Def Jam and were replaced by L.A. Reid. He started pushing the group to record a fourth studio album for the label only to postpone the project to focus on artists of his certainty. Due to the group's failure to produce any new music featuring Sisqó, who chose not to lend his vocals to new recordings as ordered by Reid, he reviewed Dru Hill as a destructive and a self-imploding group that was not fully productive.[21] As a result, the buzz around the album never became a reality and on July 17, 2004, the group was confirmed to have been dropped from Def Soul, ending their five-year relationship with Def Jam.[citation needed]

On October 11, 2005, Def Soul released a greatest hits compilation, Dru Hill: Hits, along with a corresponding DVD collection of the group's music videos. Both collections included Sisqó's biggest solo hits, "Thong Song" and "Incomplete", alongside the Dru Hill songs.

Family affairs[edit]

In the midst of Dru Hill's label issues, in 2003, Sisqó became involved in a relationship with his stylist Elizabeth Pham, whom he later married on August 17, 2018.[22] That same year, on June 12, group founder Nokio fathered a son named Niko, whose mother is radio personality Angie Martinez.[23][24]

Woody and Scola's departure[edit]

In early 2008, the original quartet version of Dru Hill began touring alongside fellow 1990s acts Tony! Toni! Toné!, Bell Biv Devoe, and Keith Sweat. The group held a contest in their native Baltimore for a replacement for Woody, who left the group again earlier in January, settling upon a new singer, Antwuan "Tao" Simpson. The group never said why they did not keep Scola in the group, although it was later stated by Nokio that "five people [mess] up the money".[25]

InDRUpendence Day (2010)[edit]

InDRUpendence Day is Dru Hill's fourth album, released on July 27, 2010. It features the group's new member, Tao. The album has released three singles: "Love MD", "Remain Silent" and "Back to the Future". It was released under the label, Kedar Entertainment, which was founded by the album's executive producer, Kedar Massenburg.

New lineup and The Second Coming[edit]

Jazz left the group in early 2018 to work on his solo album and Tao left in early 2019 to work on a solo project because he did not like the direction Dru Hill was going.[26]

In August 2018, a new album, The Second Coming, was announced. It was to feature two new members from the group Playa, Smoke and Black, who started performing with them after Jazz left the group.[27] The first single from the album, "What You Need", was released in February 2020.[28] Later that month, Nokio confirmed on Magic 95.9 that he has left Dru Hill to spend time with his family.[29] A comeback of the band with the new lineup, Sisqo, Smoke, and Black, was hinted in March 2020.[30]

Television appearances[edit]

Dru Hill had their own television show titled Keith Sweat's Platinum House. It debuted June 28, 2010, on Centric.[3] It focused on their fourth album, InDRUpendence Day, and depicted the progress of returning as a full group, and their work to create new music.[31]

The original premiere on July 14, 2009, on the main BET Network was postponed, but aired later on Centric.


Current members[edit]

  • Sisqó – (1992–present)
  • Nokio – (1992–2020; 2021–present)
  • Jazz – (1993–2018; 2021–present)
  • Scola – (2001–2008; 2021–present)
  • Smoke – (2018–present)
  • Black – (2018–present)

Former members[edit]

  • Woody – (1992; 1994–1999, 2002–2008)
  • Tao – (2008–2019; 2021–2024)


Studio albums



TV specials[edit]

  • Breaking Out: The Alcatraz Concert (1998)
  • 24 hours with Dru Hill (1999)
  • Keith Sweat's Platinum House (2009)[32]
  • Unsung (2020)[33]


  • Enter the Dru Tour (1999)[34]
Featured act
  • Budweiser Superfest 97 (1997)[35]
  • No Way Out Tour (1998)[36]
  • Budweiser Superfest 98 (1998)[37]
  • Keep the Faith Tour (1999)[38]
  • Luv U Better Tour (2003)[39]
  • Game Changer Tour (2015)
  • The 20th Anniversary Tour (2017)[40]
  • The 25th Anniversary Tour (Sisqo, Nokio, Jazz, Scola, Tao, Smoke, Black) (2022-2023)
As supporting act
  • Evolution Tour (supporting Boyz II Men) (1998)[41]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1998 Dru Hill Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group Nominated
Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist Nominated
2000 Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group Nominated
2003 Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group Nominated
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1998 Dru Hill Best R&B/Soul Album – Group, Band or Duo Won
In My Bed Best R&B/Soul Single – Group, Band or Duo Won
1999 Enter the Dru Best R&B/Soul Album – Group, Band or Duo Nominated
2000 Beauty Best R&B/Soul Single – Group, Band, or Duo Nominated
2003 I Should Be... Best R&B/Soul Single – Group, Band or Duo Nominated
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1999 Dru Hill Favorite Group Nominated


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  2. ^ "The Fudgery's Company History". The Fudgery. Archived from the original (ASP) on January 6, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Gonzalez, Michael A. (May 1, 2010). "The Kings of Dru Hill". Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  4. ^ Rocque, Starr (November 9, 2022). "Best Dru Hill Songs: 15 R&B Classics, Standards, and Deep Cuts". uDiscover Music. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  5. ^ "Mya With Special Guest Sisqo - It's All About Me". Discogs. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Brown, Ann (March 1998). "Taking stocks of the Wall Street Project: Jackson-led group marks King holiday with three-day conference – Jesse Jackson's project to monitor racism in corporate US holds gala on January 15, 1998, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday". Black Enterprise. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  7. ^ "Dru Hill Suit Thickens And Settles?" MTV, November 12, 1997. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  8. ^ "PolyGram Apologizes for Racist Executive, Jesse Jackson Councils", MTV, November 13, 1997. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  9. ^ "Dru Hill Settles Suit", MTV, November 21, 1997. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  10. ^ Rosen, Craig (November 29, 1997). "Island, Dru Hill reach settlement on lawsuits". Billboard. Vol. 109, no. 48. p. 78 – via EBSCOHost.
  11. ^ Hopkins, Tracy (October 3, 1998). "Dru Hill shows new dimensions on Island's 'Enter.'". Billboard. Vol. 110, no. 40. p. 28 – via EBSCOHost.
  12. ^ RIAA certifications for Dru Hill. Retrieved from Recording Industry Association of America Archived February 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine website by way of database search, on May 24, 2007.
  13. ^ "allmusic ((( Enter the Dru > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  14. ^ "Seagrams completes PolyGram acquisition - Dec. 10, 1998". CNN. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  15. ^ "Dru Hill Reveals Terrifying Shoot-Out That Caused Woody To Finally Leave Group For Good". I Love Old School Music. December 10, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  16. ^ "Dru Hill Details the Group's 'Traumatizing' Collapse on 'Unsung'". Urban Hollywood 411. February 14, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  17. ^ Alexander, Brenda (March 1, 2020). "Sisqo Reveals Why He Left Dru Hill For a Solo Career". Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  18. ^ "Revisiting Dru Hill's 'Enter the Dru' (1998) | Retrospective Tribute". Albumism. October 26, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  19. ^ Sterdan, Darryl (July 6, 2021). "Classic Album Review: Sisqo | Return of Dragon". Tinnitist. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  20. ^ "P. Diddy On 112 Dispute: 'We'll Cradle Them, Get Their Minds Right'". MTV. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  21. ^ "Breakups to Makeups: Dru Hill 20 Years Later (Exclusive)". Black Roses. November 6, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  22. ^ Vacco-Bolanos, Jessica (August 17, 2018). "SisQo Marries Elizabeth Pham". Us Weekly. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  23. ^ Griffith, Juwan "JuJu" (October 11, 2021). "What you can learn from Niko Ruffin…". Medium. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  24. ^ "Boy Born to Angie Martinez and Nokio". Midland Daily News. June 14, 2003. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  25. ^ Behind The Music Tales (June 29, 2008). "Dru Hill sing Lately and respond to departure of Woody..." Archived from the original on December 22, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2019 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ "Tao Soprano Discusses Leaving Dru Hill, How He Got Start With Group, Solo Project (Exclusive)". YouKnowIGotSoul. May 11, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  27. ^ Thompson, Desire (August 10, 2018). "Dru Hill Adds R&B Veterans Playa To Group, Announce New Album: Exclusive". Vibe. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  28. ^ Marie, Erika (February 11, 2020). "Dru Hill Returns 10 Years Later With 'What You Need' Single From "The Second Coming"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  29. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Nokio Comes Home, Says He Left Dru Hill [Video]". Magic Baltimore. February 24, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  30. ^ Findlay, Mitch (March 22, 2020). "Sisqo & Dru Hill Tease Comeback On The Breakfast Club". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  31. ^ "Dru Hill Reunited On New Reality Show | Ammon-Ra Dot Net". September 17, 2010. Archived from the original on September 17, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  32. ^ TV News Desk (June 1, 2010). "Centric's KEITH SWEAT'S PLATINUM HOUSE Premieres 6/28". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  33. ^ Shalamar Brown (February 23, 2020). "TV One's 'Unsung' premieres tonight with untold Dru Hill story". rollingout.com. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  34. ^ "WOODY EXITS DRU HILL FOR SOLO CAREER AS TRIO PLANS TOUR". MTV. March 17, 1999. Archived from the original on December 14, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  35. ^ "BONE THUGS, DRU HILL, AALIYAH, MARY J. BLIGE, GINUWINE SET DATES". MTV. August 5, 1997. Archived from the original on March 26, 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  36. ^ "PUFFY, DRU HILL, MASE, BUSTA, LIL' KIM TO HIT THE ROAD". MTV. February 6, 1998. Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  37. ^ "L.L. COOL J, K-CI & JOJO AND DRU HILL GET THE HOOK-UP FOR SUPERFEST". MTV. May 13, 1998. Archived from the original on November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  38. ^ "FAITH EVANS REACHES TOP FIVE WITH WHITNEY, PLANS TOUR WITH DRU HILL". MTV. February 16, 1999. Archived from the original on August 3, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  39. ^ "LL Cool J, Dru Hill Plan Summer Tour". Billboard. May 13, 2003. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  40. ^ Mario McKellop (March 29, 2017). "BOYZ II MEN ANNOUNCES DATES FOR EVOLUTION TOUR". AXS. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  41. ^ "Dru Hill announces 20th anniversary US tour". MTV. April 3, 1998. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2019.


External links[edit]