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I have been a fan of Dru Hill for some years now and A while ago I reviewed two albums from the group, Enter The Dru and Dru World Order but for some reason I had not reviewed their self titled debut album, well now I have decided to review the album and this completes my reviews of all Dru Hill albums as part of my aim to review all albums I own from some of my favourite artists. Incase you are not aware Dru Hill consisted of Sisqo, Jazz, Nokio and Woody before they added a fifth member for the 2002 album Dru World Order.
Released in 1996, the self titled debut from Dru Hill was recorded on the Island record label and features production from Keith Sweat amongst other lesser known producers like Hitman, Janice Upchurch, Benjamin Love, Darryl Pearson, Allen "Grip" Smith and finally production from the well known Daryl Simmons. The album featured four singles and was a top 5 hit on the U.S Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
This short interlude introduces you to each member and there is a short funky hip hop beat and the members saying the name of the group "Dru Hill".
2.) Nothing To Prove
This track opens with a funky beat and the vocals from all members are smooth and emotive. This is a good uptempo track that only loses points due to the slightly dated 1990's vibe of the music and overall feel. One of the better uptempo tracks on the album though.
3.) Tell Me
This was my introduction to the group, this is a midtempo slice of sexy R&B. The groups vocals are smooth and flow brilliantly together, The thump of the beat blends well with the laid back vocals and background keys. This shows off their mix of smooth R&B and hip hop beats.
4.) Do U Believe
This is another midtempo track with smooth vocals that blend together well and the beat of the drum provides the difference again. This is not as good as Tell Me but is a decent track all the same with a catchy flow and some great vocals from Sisqo in particular.
5.) Whatever U Want
This is another midtempo fusion of R&B and hip hop. This has an old school feel without being too dated. Another decent slice of Dru Hill. This track features a rap from female rapper "Triip" who does a decent enough job on it without worrying the likes of Lil Kim and Lauryn Hill.
This is the first track that has a Ballad feel but it still has the midtempo feel which lets it down a little as I feel this could be better done as a ballad. It's a decent song but the album has not got into full flow yet.
7.) April Showers
This is the first ballad on the album and has a slow pace, it sounds like it was done by a 70's soul great who was winding down their career in the late 80's early 90's. It's a decent ballad but there is certainly better to come in the next half of the album.
8.) All Alone
This has a mellow feel like most of the ballads on the album, This is better than April Showers but the album is building up to the best tracks. I feel that the backing vocals are a little relaxed for my liking in too many parts of this track.
9.) Never Make A Promise
Now we move onto the best ballads on the album with a heartfelt tale of keeping promises and telling them not to make promises unless you are going to keep them. A fabulous track with the group blending superbly well on their vocal harmonies.
10.) So Special
Back to the heavy beats here for one track, This is a midtempo ballad that works well with the heavier beat than on the usual ballad. Sisqo sings lead vocals on this track and the other members do a fine job with the backing vocals. A great track that is just below the best on the album.
11.) In My Bed
This is an outstanding ballad about finding your partner cheating on you in your own bed. This track moves through the suspicion to finding out. I love the emotive feel of this track and it is done superbly well, Sisqo is superb on lead vocals and the harmonies from the others are superb.
12.) Love's Train
This is another fine ballad although it's not one of Dru Hill's most well known tracks. The vocal harmonies are a little deeper in tone than the rest of the album and it works well. This is a very good ballad which should be much better known than it is.
13.) Share My World
This track opens with Piano and then finger snaps come in with the guitar, later the beat comes in and this is a tender ballad with Sisqo on lead vocals. This is another fine song with a seductive feel and is one of the best tracks on the album that's for sure.
14.) 5 Steps
This ends the album superbly with one of their classic ballads. Superbly sung, this track is one of their most tender love songs and also one of their best tracks. A really outstanding effort on this one. Great stuff.
This is a very fine introduction to Dru Hill, the best tracks on the album are up there amongst the best of their career to date. The gripe I have with the album is that there are too many tracks that lack a little something to take them to the next level. They are decent but lack a little spark. Well all in all I would recommend this album to any R&B fan as there's a lot to like about the album despite the lesser tracks. I would have rated five stars if the other tracks were more consistent.
"Dru Hill" is the self-entitled, debut album by one of the biggest R&B groups from the late nineties to early '00s. Dru Hill offer a soulful contemporary style which contrasted from a lot of the swing, dance tunes which were being heard from this genre around this time. The male vocal group consists of the leader (but not lead) Nokio, Woody, Jazz and the lead singer, Sisqó (who is most famous for his solo single The Thong Song"). To reassure those who hated that particular one, this album is nothing like it and mainly contains soulful ballards. When this released, backed in 1996, it anged to achieve platinum sales in the States and three top ten singles.
1. "Anthem" (Intro)
2. "Nothing To Prove"
Unlike later on in their career, Sisqó doesn't dominate each and ever song on the album, here he shares out the vocals with all of the members of the group so they at least get a line to themsef. This just annoyed me, because it highlighted how far Sisqó held back the other members of Dru Hill later on, and so much potential was lost. I felt that they were great at the way they sang about being able to offer exactly what other men can, despit their young age, and they performed excellently.
3. "Tell Me"
This song was the debut singel by Dru Hill, and as the mid-nineties were all about male vocals groups for R&B (not boy bands), Dru Hill had to come out with something to make them stand out from Jodecie, H-Town and BLACKstreet as we didn't really need another like them, but Nokio and his crew proved themselves as original at such a competitive time in R&B.
This debut single allowed them to burst through onto the scene as they mixed souflul ballard with the general R&B style of the time, and they showed that they could blend the two effortlessly, in a manner never heard prior to this.
4. "Do U Believe?"
This is a big, funky R&B song, which I found to be extremly exciting as you hear one of the best melodies from throughout the LP in the opening line from Nokio as he sings "Sisqó and Lisa fell in love the other day..." and they contiune from here as they all talk about how each of them show affection to their girls. This is in the top two of the whole album, and shows that R&B have lost it's best qualities (which were most prominant in the '90s).
5. "Whatever U Want"
Dru Hill get down with a style which is more inviting to the male fans than what they tend to come out with, as the mid-nineties had Jodeci and BLACKstreet putting the 'thug' into R&B, they had to show that they had it too. This is a fun little swing song to get you moving a bit, and it really livens you up amongst a host of low-tempo songs, but it did seem to have a place here.
This is another of the generic songs, which must be put into an album of this particular genre, and you can't complain about it, because without a song about sex, you would be ingoring the fundamentals of R&B. I felt that the group really nailed this sensual song, and even though it's not too differnt, they really executed well.
7. "April Showers"
This track truely shows what the lead singer, Sisqó, can bring to the table with his K-Ci style, and he is the best alternative to the former Jodeci member. I feel that by having such a strong vocal range meant that he was able to make the most out of the theme. He dominated the song, but it wasn't preventing the rest of the group from shining, it was just a strong lead for them to follow from.
8. "All Alone"
This track really put me into the mind set of the period in which this was recorded, and this didn't occur too much in this album, especially in the slower tunes, but there's something about the production which reminded me of the era, and what was popular at the time. I was really impressed by the times where the entire quartet come together, and the verses were decent too. It was an all-round success.
9. "Never Make a Promise"
This is a slow ballard, in which Dru Hill all come together to settle the insecurities which their girls feel from time to time, as they say that they always make sure they carry thier promises through to the very end. I found this to be an extremely convincing as the tone and lyrics matched perfectly to make for decent results.
10. "So Special"
I have to say that even with a majorty of ballards(in comparison to the up-beat tunes), this was the only time in the whle album where I felt bored by one of the songs. I thought little of this because I saw it as more of a power-pop song than a soulful jam, and I couldn't deal with this mainstream-targetted track. It's a shame to say this, but it's fair, and I'm happy they didn't do this any more in the album.
11. "In My Bed"
Sisqó kills it in this particulat track, and he really stands out amongst the remaining members of Dru Hill. I felt that Sisqó was amazing in his approach to this song as it sin't the typical love song which you often hear from them. I felt that he took on a challenging task and succeeded with it. You hear Sisqó expressing his suspisions towrads his girl and how she thinks that she's been with another man. I really liked the melody which is sang to the line "Somebody's Sleeping In My Bed".
12. "Love's Train"
There's something about the way that this one is sang that I am reminded of the way that R. Kelly went about his singing early on in his career, around these years too., but it's hard to put my finger on it. I was ver enjoying this trip on the "Love Train", a journey which you go through in this track, which is extremely pleasurable. It seems as though you are floating as you travel on this calm train of love, and it would make for a great video.
13. "Share My World"
This is a nice and soft ballard, which is very typical of this type of album. Although many may say that it is generic, and shows little originality, you have o put in something for those who can't get into the deep and pure soul. Due to all of this, it is suited more to the mainstream listener as it is watered-down to their level. The them of having a pair come together to 'share worlds' is nice, but not enough to excite you.
14. "5 Steps"
This ballard really makes full use of the talent of the group. From the start we have Nokio initiating the vocals. As the backing music is so minimalistic, all of the focus is put onto his brilliant voice. You hear the most satisfying singing taken to another level with a soft echo throughout the first verse. From here Sisqó takes the baton and leads the chorus as the group come together better than anywhere else on the album.
I think that this album is a good addition to the CD collection, if R&B's you're thing, but I wouldn't say that it is at all an essential buy. I felt that this album showed a developmental stage in the group as they were rying to find out what they were about, and it wasn't a close a representative of their overall career as their later album, but certainly if ou lie what you heard in "Enter The Dru" or "Dru World Order", then this is one for you.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Nothing To Prove
3 Tell Me
4 Do U Believe
5 Whatever U Want
7 April Showers
8 All Alone
9 Never Make A Promise
10 So Special
11 In My Bed
12 Love's Train
13 Share My World
14 5 Steps