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Dru Hill were one of the biggest R&B groups of the 90s with a string of classic romantic ballads and hip hop joints. Roll on a few years and a couple of lineup changes and few problems along the way they were now ready to release their first album for eight years following Dru World Order from 2002. The new era of Dru Hill features a new member known as "Tao". The process of the new album was recorded for a TV Show called "Keith Sweat's Platinum House".
The new album was released on 27th July 2010 on the Record Label, Kedar Entertainment Group. The album has featured three singles "Love MD", "Remain Silent" and "Back to the Future". New member Antwuan "Tao" Simpson was welcomed into the band after winning a competition for the band. The album features collaborations with Keith Sweat, Nathan Mooring and Wirlie Morris as well as Jason "J-Hott" Scott and Starr Strukk.
1.) Shut it down
This is an interesting opener, It brings their old style hip hop joints to a new more electro sound which works well here. Sisqo's lead vocals work well and the smooth vocals blend well with the beats and hooks. This was not one of the singles released but it could have been a decent hit, especially in the clubs. A good start.
2.) Do It Again
Up now we have another catchy electro hop track which is a little more catchy and has some excellent sounds. This is not what you might have expected from Dru Hill but they still have the old smooth vocal harmonies and catchy hooks. This is another strong track to open the album with. Sisqo again does well on lead vocals.
3.) She wants me
This is another catchy up tempo track, It brings old style Dru Hill into a new era with some electro hooks and vocoders. The vocal harmonies are strong and blend well with the overall feel of the song. Sisqo's parts remind me of his solo work. Another decent track to start the album off with.
4.) Whatcha Do
This track is slower than the opening trio but still has that up tempo feel with smooth vocals over it. This is another which could have been a single as it has that feel. Not a great track but it's very listenable and makes you tap your feet to the beat. A little too similar to the opening tracks so far though.
5.) Below Zero
This is a catchy mid tempo track which shows off their vocal talents to decent effect. The backing vocals are excellent and the beats and hooks deliver a great soundstage. I would have liked to hear this one a little slowed down though as I think it could have been a great ballad. It's a very decent track as it is.
6.) Can't Stop
This is a mid tempo track with a thumping beat, Sisqo's spoken lyrics are sensuous and he's backed well by the rest of the group. I would however have liked this track to develop a bit more as the subject (about needing to cut down on drinking etc) is one that could be more put across than this.
7.) Remain Silent
This is the first real ballad on the album and thankfully we have a good one. This track is about pleasuring your woman and making sure she is seen to before she starts on you. ahem. This track shows the best of their raunchy side and is one of the treats on the album. Dru Hill close to their smooth best. This was one of the singles released.
8.) Makin' Luv
This is another really fine ballad, it opens with an answer phone message from Sisqo to his girl and then a fantastic beat comes in which takes the track to a different level. The beat really works well with the smooth feel of the lyrics. This is another fine ballad which works well as a love making aid. It has a wonderful climax. ahem.
9.) State of Emergency
Another excellent ballad here which shows that the new sound seems set to stay which done like this is no bad thing. This is another example of the way that Tao has integrated with the group without any trouble or negative affect. Not quite as good as the previous ballads here but still some great vocals.
10.) Back to the future
This was another single released from the album, It's another fine ballad, It's opening is the most gentle yet and features subtle keys which lead into the beat which is another strong one. This track is about looking back on a relationship and pleading to try things one more time. An emotive song which works very well indeed. Excellent stuff.
11.) Love MD
This is the first single released from the album and features an excellent beat with gentle keys and the vocal harmonies are again excellent but this track is slightly lacking that spark which takes it to another level which some of these tracks have. A decent track but not one of the best on the album.
This is the most stripped down track on the album and one of the best, It opens with Sisqo's vocals over a gentle piano part which is soon joined by a taut beat. This is an excellent ballad with some fine vocals from the lead and harmonies from the group. One of the best tracks on the album and a great one to sing along to once you learn the lyrics of this tale of regret and longing looking back on a failed relationship.
13.) Rule the world
This is the final track on the album and features Starr Strukk. It has a very 80s feel and you will not be able to avoid thinking about Fireman Sam with the music on this one. Apart from the slightly dated feel of part of the song and the odd ode to Fireman Sam it is an ok track. Not a great end of the album though.
This is an interesting album to look back on after listening through, on the one hand you think of the negatives of the opening few tracks being a little too similar, the odd opening and Fireman Sam ode of the final track but then you think of the good stuff on the album and there is a decent amount of that. Overall this is a strong album which hints at a lasting comeback if they can iron out a few bad moves.
Formed back in the early nineties, Dru Hill made their first splash in 1996 with the release of their début album and since then have released a number of must-have R&B albums up until 2002 when the group fell apart. Sisqo did his thing as a solo artist at the turn of the Millennium, but failed to get a career in full swing and so by 2008 they act were on the way to reforming. After a number of setbacks and internal arguments, 2010 finally saw them get together to put out a full record - "InDRUpedence Day" with a line-up consisting of Sisqo, Nokio, Jazz and new member - Tao.
This release sits as Dru Hill's fourth album and although some may feel as though their absence has been felt, R&B was revolutionised when acts from that era, including BLACKstreet, Keith Sweat and Tyrese lost popularity and some moved away from music. New acts came in and changed the sound before long, and so they weren't missed. As any new music from old acts is bound only really to be more reminiscent purposes only, it sounds silly for them to kick the album off with some generic electronic stuff on "Shut It Down" as it shows that they're coming in as if they want to be competitors and reclaim past fame. The album starts poorly, and unfortunately it doesn't really gain ground as it goes along.
Sisqo's lead vocal performances are always a main attraction to Dru Hill's music. Although listeners may not get treated to this on the first cut, the group give us this as they go along and "Do It Again" comes in. However, clearly they aren't attacking the music in the same way they used to. The fact that they even resort to something as poor as "Can't Stop" shows that they're far from comfortable as they put this album together and so it makes for a rather unmemorable release that's got no hope of getting them back on track to where they used to be (even harder since the male R&B group thing has been long-outdated).
The album has no direction to it. They could have given us a compact release which reminds listeners of the good old days of mid-to-late nineties R&B, but instead they opt for something which tries to mess with contemporary traits and unpredictably returns back to the old things without warning. They had two options of either going all-in with something completely new, or going back to their old ways. As they clearly aren't able to find a strong balance between the two approaches, it should have been obvious that it's best to go about it in one of those ways, but they passed on opportunity.
The lead single, "Love MD", may be a decent track, but the majority of what's found here is just nothing more than average. Major weak points, such as "Away" stand right out on the release, but the vast majority of what you get from this one is all on one same level that doesn't go anywhere. At times its poor song writing or flat vocals, but what you get from this album is quite obviously evidence that the crew is far from as creative and capable as they used to be. They over-complicate funky tunes like "Whatcha Do" and so lose momentum when they sound as though they suddenly know what they're doing. There are glimpses of greatness, but they often just lose this as they try out too much in one go.
The album just sounds very messy. With the final track, "Rule the World", they go back to some funky soul of the early eighties and see whether they can pull that off, but with all of the vocal modifications and manipulations it means that it lacks the raw, vocally-based music that people know Dru Hill for. The outfit was known for their ability to lay down memorable urban ballads which are done in the traditional format, but still have appear to the 'street' market. Here they seem to go under the assumption that it's all outdated and instead go for lots of general, club-directed tunes which are just there to win over the young listeners. Not a good look.
Overall, I'd say that Dru Hill fans should just remember their past legacy and ignore what they've done with this album. It's unlikely that they'll go on to put out any more music after the results of this one, but it would have been nice to see them make something special out of this album. Others from this time have tried and failed and so it's no surprise that it didn't come out as well as expected, but is still bound to disappoint die-hard fans. Those who love their performances on "How Deep is Your Love", "In My Bed" and "Tell Me" in their younger years are sure to check it out, just don't expect much.
1. "Shut It Down" **Two Stars**
2. "Do It Again" **Three Stars**
3. "She Wants Me" **Three Stars**
4. "Whatcha Do" **Three Stars**
5. "Below Zero" **Three Stars**
6. "Can't Stop" **One Star**
7. "Remain Silent" **Four Stars**
8. "Makin' Luv" **Two Stars**
9. "State of Emergency" **Three Stars**
10. "Back to the Future" **Four Stars**
11. "Love MD" **Four Stars**
12. "Away" **Two Stars**
13. "Rule the World" **Three Stars**
14. "If You Fall" **Two Stars**
15. "Guitar" **One Star**
16. "Wind" (Black Angel Down - Snippet)
17. "How Deep Is Your Love" (Black Angel Down - Snippet)
18. "The End" (Black Angel Down - Snippet)