Dru Hill is headed to South Africa for Soul Fest – and we caught up with them!

2018-08-31 16:04
Dru Hill

Cape Town - It’s a wonderful time for South Africa’s ’90s R&B fans!

Not one but three R&B greats will be visiting Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town for the inaugural Soul Fest later this month.

TLC, Dru Hill and SWV will allow their legion of fans to dip into a pool of nostalgia and remember a time when soulful music was a norm and love ballads topped the charts.

More than two decades have passed since Baltimore outfit Dru Hill – consisting of Mark “Sisqo” Andrews (39), Tamir “Nokio” Ruffin (43) and Antwuan “Tao” Simpson (38) – released their self-titled debut album.

And although they’ve had a few hiatuses and line-up changes – with Jawann “Smoke” Peacock (41) and Benjamin “Black” Bush recently joining the band – they’re still going strong and plan to release a fifth album later this year.

We got the opportunity to chat to the band, and they dished on everything from their brush with Madiba magic to bandmember Sisqo’s accidental solo career.

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Their magical memories of SA

“We came to South Africa to perform for Mandela’s 91st birthday celebrations in 2009 alongside other acts like Stevie Wonder and Chaka Kahn,” Nokio reveals.

“We had the absolute pleasure of going to his house, meeting him and also built some long-term friendships and relationships.

“When we come back to SA this time we’re really looking forward to meeting up with some of the people we met here before. Naturally, we’re also excited to perform for our fans and really set the stage on fire.”

‘Something like Wakanda’

Black, who joined the band earlier this year after founding member Larry “Jazz” Anthony left the band to pursue solo projects, admitted that unlike the rest of the band he’s never been to SA.

“It’s my first time coming to South Africa and I can’t wait – for some reason I imagine that it’s something like Wakanda [the technologically sophisticated fictional city from 2018 movie, Black Panther],” he jokes, prompting bandmate Sisqo to share his first impressions of the country.

“I think people in the US have a lot of preconceived notions of what a place like South Africa would be like and what I remember from our previous trip here is that it was far more advanced than we’d all been led to believe,” Sisqo admits. “In some ways even more advanced than the US, really.”

On that Dru Hill magic

“I’m actually a huge Dru Hill fan as well as a member and my favourite song to perform – and actually the first song I performed with the band after I joined – is Beauty,” Black reveals.

“The harmonies in the song are just magical and performing it feels like an amazing out of body experience.” Sisqo quickly admits that although he doesn’t disagree, he thinks there’s something magical about every Dru Hill song. “At some point in all our songs there’s this moment where something amazing just happens and it feels like the audience is really the sixth member of the group.”

Sisqo on going solo

Sisqo found huge success with his solo career during the late ’90s with runaway hit Thong Song, which reached No 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and Incomplete, the second single off his debut album, Unleash the Dragon, making it all the way to number one.


Despite the success, the singer insists that striking out on his own was never something he’d planned to do. “To be honest, it happened almost accidentally,” he says, explaining that the guys only decided to pursue solo projects after former band member James “Woody” Green (41) left the band in 1999.

“For as long as I’ve been in the music industry I’ve wanted to be part of a band. So although my solo career was a huge opportunity and I enjoyed a lot of success I always wanted to come back and be part of Dru Hill.”

Not that he’s trying to forget his past projects, either – the crooner staged a performance of his hit Thong Song when he wed long-term-partner Elizabeth Pham earlier this month. “I initially sang Thong Song about the first thong I ever saw, so it was only right to sing it about the last one I’ll ever see . . . in private, that is,” he jokingly told his local newspaper The Baltimore Sun.

New music on the way

“We’re definitely working on some new music. There isn’t an exact release date yet but our fifth album, The Second Coming, is definitely on its way,” says Nokio, with Sisqo adding that at the moment their new project is the only music he has coming through his headphones.

“Because we’re putting the finishing touches on the album, that’s really the only thing I’m listening to,” Sisqo claims. “It’s an incredibly delicate process – you can’t listen to it too much because then it’ll all be too familiar but you need to listen to it enough so that the music can stand the test of time.”

Soul Fest dates:

Johannesburg – Ticket Pro Dome Saturday 1 September 2018

Durban – Jonsson Kings Park (Outer fields) Sunday 2 September 2018

Cape Town – Grand Arena, Grand West Tuesday 4 September 2018

Extra source: TheBaltimoreSun.com

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