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The dragon unleashed in London

READY TO ROCK WEMBLEY: Sisqo

ONE OF my earliest memories as a fully-fledged music fan was flying through the back gates of my secondary school and bombing it to the local Our Price music store where ‘90s R&B quartet Dru Hill were to perform a one-off gig.

I ran as fast as my sensible school shoes would take me, my pleated maroon skirt billowing in my slipstream. I needed to be close to the stage, I needed to see Sisqo - the group’s blond-haired frontman – in all his glory. I just needed to.

I passed friends who, like me, were vying for the same front-row position. This race wasn’t about friendship. It was about endurance.

Ten minutes later, I was there. My teenage body pressed against the metal railings surrounding the stage to watch my celebrity crush lead the way for the group’s opening song, 1996 hit Tell Me.

When I relay this story to Sisqo during our recent chat, he laughs. Heartedly.

“Man, you were serious,” he says in native Baltimore drawl.

He’s right. I was.

My wall was covered in semi-clad pictures of the US superstar and a pile of magazines containing interviews with the singer and his Dru Hill bandmates (Jazz, Nokio and Woody) were neatly piled in the corner of my room.

I was a super fan before there were Belibers (Justin Bieber's fans) or Barbz (those supporting rapper Nicki Minaj) - I was a ‘Little Dragon’, ‘Sisqo-ette’, ‘Dragonite’, a ‘Dru-ler’…

“That warms my heart,” Sisqo continues. “You still feel that way, right?”

We both laugh.


BACK IN THE DAY: Sisqo (second right) with the original Dru Hill line-up (L-R) Woody, Nokio and Jazz

Though the famous quartet – minus band member Woody, who was replaced by US singer Tao in 2008 – still perform under the famous band name, Sisqo has carved out a very successful solo career.

In 1999, and sporting a new platinum ‘do, Sisqo, real name Mark Andrews, released solo album Unleash The Dragon, which sold six millions copies in the United States and fuelled sales of thong underwear with stand-out track Thong Song.

Despite aforementioned success, when I ask the singer what his favourite songs of his own are, his rather disappointing response is “my new stuff”.

In a state of shock, I start listing songs from his back catalogue – all of them. Then ask him the question again.

He laughs and promises he’ll be including “many” crowd favourites on his set list at the upcoming The Show Tour in Wembley Arena this Saturday (Nov 16).

“I’m going to be doing the hits as well as the new stuff,” he promises. One of which he says will be his number one hit, Incomplete. I exhale.

The father-of-two, an 18-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, will join R&B heavyweights including Faith Evans, Donnell Jones, Kelly Price and Ginuwine on stage for the second instalment of the popular concert, which was infamously headlined by Jodeci in March.

“Being on stage in front of 20,000 people was amazing. I was just flattered that I was able to come to the legendary Wembley Arena,” says the 35-year-old, who gave a show-stopping performance alongside his Dru Hill bandmates.

“When we were there the last time, everyone kept asking for some of my solo music. I’m going to be able to give them what the asked for this time when they come,” he said.

Asked what he thought about the other acts on the bill, he replied: “I’m really excited to be a part of such a great show with all platinum artists. I know pretty much everybody that’s a part of The Show. If I wasn’t a part of it, I would definitely be in the crowd.”

As an artist who enjoyed the height of R&Bs success, what does he think about the state of today’s music?

“Music is alive and it’s constantly growing and changing and I feel like with the music of today, the same way that our music probably sounded to the artists that came before us, it’s just different artists expressing themselves different ways.

He added: “I like a lot of the stuff that’s out. I like different artists for their different talents. I really enjoy the way Chris Brown can dance and I like Miguel’s melodies, every artist has something different. Everybody expresses themselves in different ways. A large variety is out there for whatever you’re into.”

And can Dru Hill fans expect to hear more from the famed quartet in years to come?

“Well, right now I’m working on my much-anticipated third solo album The Last Dragon,” he starts. And as if he senses my disappointment, he quickly adds: “I still tour the world, both solo and with Dru Hill, so just keep a look out for us and definitely come to The Show next week.”

The Show Tour takes place at Wembley Arena this Saturday (Nov 16). For tickets, visit www.theshowtour.com

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