Sisqo: Nothing To Prove, Pt 1

It’s been well over a decade since we met the R&B quintet Dru Hill. Lead singer Sisqo became the focal point of both praise and criticism throughout the group’s successful years and his own solo endeavors. Regardless of the critical jabs, no one will ever pronounce that thong-th-thong-thong-thong with one syllable again. Unlike many of his peers, Sisqo still holds the mantra that he is where he is for his fans and because of them.

Ten years later, he and his Dru Hill comrades can still sell three million records…on a bad day. While group breakup speculations, rumored pregnancies and lingering sexuality debates hang overhead, Sisqo remains unfazed. The conclusion to his trilogy – The Last Dragon – will be released this Spring, led by the single “Who’s Ur Daddy?”

With a firm grip on the business behind his music, Sisqo spoke with us about entering the digital age with his dukes up, his issues with past distribution deals and R&B “clones”, and the story behind him and Mya.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: So…where have you been?

Sisqo: I’ve been basically getting my soldiers together to lead the digital revolution. That’s the best way to put it.

AHHA: Which soldiers are they?

Sisqo: I have a whole team of people that have been helping me facilitate my music in a different way. I’ve got new distribution. A lot of people don’t know that all of my earlier music – “Thong Song,” “Got to Get It,” “Incomplete” – that was all on my label, and I had distribution. My old distribution, man, we were at odds with the way my music was facilitated to the public because I’m always recording music. I’m constantly working. I’m a performing artist and have been pretty much on the road ever since 1996. And, you know, when you work with certain distribution they have their own agenda on how your music should be facilitated to the public and what have you.

We were just at odds for like so long that eventually my contract was up and I was able to move forward. Instead of just coming back out the traditional way, my team and I did some research to find out how we could eradicate the issues that kept me “away” for so long.

I haven’t really been gone; it’s just trying to find the right way to resurface into the industry here. [America] was something that I really wanted to focus on, because the last time I had a solo album was way back in 2001, and then 2002 I started working on the new Dru Hill album. In 2003, we released that album [Dru World Order], 2004 we were on tour overseas. In 2005, The Best of Dru Hill came out, and [2006] is where we’re at.

So I’ve been in the industry, just not out there in the public eye. I just wanted to make sure this time when I came back out, we didn’t have that margin of time to be…I wanted to stay consistent. We found the best way to do that was to be on the cusp of the digital revolution, because everything is going digital. We’ve got our iTunes stuff together, and even though we’re going for ads for my first single “Who’s Ur Daddy” closer to the Spring, you’re already able to purchase it now on iTunes and on Sisqo.com. So that’s pretty much it.

AHHA: You have a really active role in the business behind your music. Is that the result of what happened previously with Dru Hill in terms of your label issues and also, as you stated, your past issues with your distribution as a solo artist?

Sisqo: Mmm Hmm. Well what happened was, I learned way back in ‘99 that it probably would be in my own best interests to put my music out on my own label. I think what happened between me and my distribution and how we kinda fell out [was] because I think they were a little upset with how much power I had at such a young age. It’s like I’m writing the music, producing the music, the music is on my label.

You know, with a lot of the distribution it’s all about control. When I’m controlling the content, the music, my look, everything, the distribution kinda looked at it like they were like a side job. Their egos couldn’t take that. But it’s ok. I don’t hold it against them. I’m just some kid from Baltimore callin’ all the shots. I can understand their jealousy. [laughs]

AHHA: Back in October [2006]when The Best of Sisqo was released, a greatest hits album sometimes marks the end of a career. Now also with you releasing The Last Dragon and completing the trilogy, is this a hint of what’s to come?

Sisqo: Well, actually it’s the end of that portion of my career. Like I said, we started back in 1996 and I pretty much had a release ever since then. We did the third Dru Hill album in 2003, and now this will be my third solo album. So this is kind of the end of that portion of my life. Right after my solo album this time next year, we’re planning on doing another Dru Hill album, so basically starting all over again from one.

AHHA: So there’s still a Dru Hill!

Sisqo: Oh yeah, we never broke up. That was propaganda [laughs]; that’s kind of the thing they put out there to take the power away from the artists. The establishments that do the distributions of your albums, they want all of the control and all of the power. Myself and Dru Hill have been pretty self-contained since day one with our team – Kevin Peck, Keith Ingram and Angela – we’ve been doing things really unorthodox. I guess the best way to say it is, not traditionally the way most groups and solo artists do.

The distribution a lot of times will find the records, put you with the producers they want you to be with, and with Dru Hill it’s actually the opposite. Our biggest hits were written and produced by our own camp. So you can see where the conflict of interest [is]. They don’t want their artists – [the artists] under these crazy contracts that hold you like for seven albums and they only put out one album here and one album there. You never finish your contract – they don’t want their artists under these contracts to know how we’ve been doing our business, because then you have the other artists wanting that same kind of deal. So you can see how they kinda coined us as “troublemakers” [laughs].

AHHA: From the moment you came out, there were so many rumors that circulated about you and stories were made up about you. It seems as though the negativity was intentional.

Sisqo: Like a smear campaign almost…

AHHA: Exactly. Do you feel this heat was brought upon you for no good reason?

Sisqo: Man! You know I’m a spiritual person, and before it happened, I already knew it was gonna happen. I was told that the industry was gonna turn on me, and it was funny that I was told that because the person who told me that had no information about the music industry. So, I thought this person had their words mixed up and maybe they were talking about a manager or label. It was kind of funny because it did seem like the industry kinda turned on me. I didn’t take it personally because I understood what it was about.

It’s like I said, with the way that I do things, if more artists knew what I know, they’d try to get the same kind of deals. This would put the big distribution companies at odds and would constantly be fighting with their artists. A lot of artists prefer to sell their souls for fame. You can’t sell me fame, I’m already famous. [laughs]

AHHA: What’s funny is, around that time there were rumors circulating about you being gay, while at the same time there were rumors of you sleeping with famous female R&B artists…

Sisqo: That’s hilarious! I don’t kiss and tell though…that’s why they all still love it. That’s why my first single is called “Who’s Ur Daddy?” [laughs]

AHHA: Well, we have three in particular I’d like to ask you about: Mya, Gloria Velez, and Samantha Mumba. Which of these three [women you were rumored to be with] are true?

Sisqo: Wow. Well, Mya and I – I worked with Mya and wrote her first two singles “All About Me” and “Movin’ On”. It works better if people kind of speculate that you’re dating an artist that you do a duet with. But the truth of the matter is that when me and Mya were working on that project, she was a virgin and I’m not goin’ there unless I’m getting married to the girl. That [rumor] was not true, even though she is a hottie, I didn’t want that charge.

Gloria and I dated for a hot second, and we’re still friends. So that was cool. Samantha and I, it’s funny. I was working with her on her project and I went to visit her where she used to live in Ireland, because she’s from Ireland. While I was working with her, there were rumors of my song “Who’s Ur Daddy?” Because people hadn’t heard the song, and they weren’t sure if there was a song called “Who’s Ur Daddy?” or if she was having my baby. So that’s what that was about. [laughs] But it’s cool because at least it was someone who was hot and not someone who was not hot. [laughs]

AHHA: You handled the gay rumors pretty graciously back then too. As a male artist, you could have dealt with it much rougher than you did.

Sisqo: Well thank you, and hey if I got too upset about it…It seems like in Pop culture if they say you’re gay that means you’ve made it, right? [laughs] A whole other group of fans; a whole other group of people – I guess a lot of the girls I dated would have something different to say. [laughs]

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