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As the lead singer of Dru Hill you would have expected Sisqo to go solo at some point given the success of the group. First came 1999's Unleash the Dragon which brought us the huge single "Thong Song" and the superb ballad Incomplete. He then released this album in 2001 and somewhat continued his solo success with the same blend of catchy hip hop and smooth hard edged ballads. As with his debut album there are a couple of tracks which feature Dru Hill as a group.
**Return of the Dragon**
Although not as successful as his debut album Return of The Dragon still made some noise with strong sales compared to many new releases at the time. It is led by the two singles Can I live and Dance for me which both had videos produced by music video legend Dave Meyers. The album was co produced with Teddy Riley of Blackstreet fame and was released on the Def Soul record label which is part of Def Jam.
This short intro shows the hip hop side of the album with some firm beats and Sisqo's voice hints at what is to come. A decent enough intro to the album as intros go.
2.) Not Afraid
This is a fast and frenetic hip hop track which has a great catchy feel and Sisqo's distinctive vocals add a different touch. One of the best uptempo tracks on Return of the Dragon no doubt about that.
Another firm hip hop track with a very catchy feel, the bassline is a test for any hi-fi system's timing. This track is a prime example of the catchy nature of the uptempo hip hop tracks on the album, There are some great bass and keyboard hooks throught.
4.) Can I Live
Can I lIve is The first single off this album and another catchy hip hop track, the combination of the firm bass beats and funky hooks works really well and is one of the best hip hop tracks on the album.
5.) Without You
This is effectively a Dru Hill track and is a great additiom to this album, It's a mix of hip hop and ballad to make a very interesting soundstage which works really well. The smooth harmony vocals are one of the things Dru Hill are about.
A change of pace compared to the first five tracks, this track opens with a catchy guitar part and then the beats come in. This is a great track about A woman in your past who is trying to mess up what you have with your current girlfriend. Something that happens all the time.
7.) Last Night
This has a control and assurance about it. You really need to listen to this to hear just how catchy it is. Such a great track to dance to and it should have been a club classic. The best catchy track on the album that's for sure.
8.) Close your eyes (interlude)
This short interlude features a phone message from Sisqo's girlfriend after things breakdown in the relationship. This interlude leads into the song Close your eyes
9.) Close your eyes
This is a brilliant midtempo ballad which features a hip hop beat. This is Sisqo's response to the phone message and is a heartfelt plea for forgiveness saying things can go back to the way they once were. A suoperb track.
10.) Dance for me
This track opens with a warm guitar sound and then develops through the thud of the beat. The second single on The Return of the Dragon is a superb catchy track which showcases Sisqo's rapid fire vocal delivery.
11.) Off the corner
This opens with an aeroplane landing and then a cell phone call between Sisqo and his friends. This is a different slice of hip hop completely as it is almost ganster rap. This is actually a superb track which may bring new fans to hip hop.
Almost incredibly, this gorgeous ballad follows Off the corner. The differences are staggering. This is one of the best ballads he has ever done even in Dru Hill. This track features Chinky of Lovher and is a superb ballad about realising how deep in love you are with someone. The best bit is when the drums errupt and then the choir comes in.
13.) You Don't Know Me
No this isn't Katie Price's rant at people who don't like her but a catchy track with Lovher, for anyone not aware of them they are a female R&B group from the US who were put together by Sisqo and signed to Def Soul. Another catchy hip hop track that is a good track.
This is a very good album which features an incredible track in Dream and some very good uptempo hip hop tracks throught, The only other ballad Close your eyes is another gem but the balance isnt right between hip hop tracks and ballads so this albim is given four stars instead of five from me. Overall a very decent effort.
"Return Of Dragon" is the second solo album release from Dru Hill's former frontman, Sisqó. The R&B singer returns for another album following the massive success of "Unleash The Dragon", although it didn't do as well (selling 4 million copies less), it still managed to be a Certified Platinum record and broke into the US top ten.
2. "Not Afraid"
This is a big way to kick off the album as you hear an empowering track which has him "Unleash The Dragon" upon you as he displays that his ready to come with some great vocals for the album. I think that it was a good way to establish that he wasn't going to come with a mutitude of "Thong Song" revisits for this album. It's execution certinly made me feel this way, but the rest of the album doens't really live up to the standard of this opener.
I found this to be a good way to follow on from the song which proceeded it as it is just as inspiring as the other in how you have Sisqó using his voice to its maximum potential by holding on to notes in a way which he built his carrer upon time and time again through this tune. It has his singing in a way which also makes it sounds confessional as he admits to a characteristic which he has, which he wouldn't really like to become too obvious.
4. "Can I Live"
This one has Sisqó singing a song about desiring some freedom for once, and I must sa that he was strong at doing this with relavent lyrics sang in a bitter way. However the overall piece just wasn't nice to listen to as you have it packed with annoying sound effects and such, all of which defer the attention to things other than his voice; which is where his talent is found.
5. "Without You" (feat. Dru Hill)
This is the only time (unlike on "Unleash The Dragon"), where Sisqó shows that Dru Hill are still together and have no problem with the lead singer doing some solo work as it is a track wjhcih features all the members of the group. Alltough I usually enjoy listening to the group, I was rather unimpressed by this one as it wasn't really something special for the grop, and I would have preferred them to do a more memorable tune to put on this particular album.
This one beign with a girl asking to be with Sisqó, when she is aware that he's already involved in a relationship.; From hre he continues the music by expressing his annoyancew towards her for doing such a thing and potentially ruinign what he currewntly has. I liked the idea of it, but the repetition of the lines just devalued the concept to a point where I was bored by the end.
7. "Last Night"
This song is simply teriible. The whole thing is just a mess, there's nothing which I could point out whcih I could atually enjoy in it. The first thing which put me off what the poudning House beat whcih he has goign on, and then you have him attempting to go for another immature song, whcih kind of echoes "The Thong Song", but in a differnt way. He sings about having a dream about the perfect girl, but the way he does it is so stupid, as he sings about waking up in wet sheets after a passionate night with a woman in his mind.
8. "Close Your Eyes" (Interlude)
9. "Close Your Eyes"
After a dip in quality for a few tracks, Sisqó is finally capable of bringing the standar back up as he steps back from all of the Pop and Dance/House tunes and goes for a standard abllard. If you are aware of his work with Dru hill, then you will be aware the fact that this is were he performs the best, and this comfortaing tune is just the type of thing you require in order to realise why you will have been originally attracted to his music.
10. "Dance For Me"
This is the big single from the album. I expect that from the title alone you won't remeber it, however you should go and listen to it, as I expect you to recall hearing this one if you lstened to R&B back in 2001 as it was a banger.
Although I can see straight through it as a rip of "The Thong Song" with repetitive lines and a very simple structure, it is a top quality tune and plays up to the strengths of the performer, who manages to do extremely well when singer R&B in a Pop form.
11. "Off The Corner"
With the two best tracks from the album behind him, this one has Sisqó reverts back to poor tunes once again. Here it's not for any of the reasons frpom before in the album, here it's because he does little in the track at all as he hands over a track to some rap group called The Associates. Quite frankly, The Associates are wack. All that Sisqó oes her is sing the choruses and this short amount of input isn't worth listening to when you are forced to tolerate so many poor raps from some unknowns.
This is has Sisqó opt for another ballard, and here it's a lot more trdtional than the more soulful R&B track "Close Your Eyes" from before. Although I don't tend to listen to these, I could appreciate the talent of the singer from the way he performs this one, making the lyrics so real to the listener.
I found this to be a highly varied album as you have a mixture of some top-quality R&B, and then some silly Pop sogs which have him attempt to get as much out of "The Thong Song" (off his other album) as possible. I believe that this album isn't really worth buying if you are into the more serious R&B tunes as Sisqó doesn't tend to perform as much of this as when he performs as part of Dru Hill or on the previous album "Unleash The Dragon".
It seems as though this album saw the beginnings of the downfall for the artist as he hasn't gone on to do any more solo albums, and Dru Hill only wen ton to relase one more group album together, however the rumours of a potential "InDRUpendence Day" album and "The Last Dragon" coming out soon, we may not have seen the last of him.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro (Sisqo/Return Of The Dragon)
2 Not Afraid
4 Can I Live - Sisqo, The Dragon Family
5 Without You - Sisqo, Dru Hill
6 Home Wrecker
7 Last Night
8 Close Your Eyes - Interlude
9 Close Your Eyes
10 Dance For Me
11 Off The Corner - Sisqo, The Associates
13 You Don't Know Me - Sisqo, Lovher
14 Dance For Me
15 Can I Live - The Dragon Family, Sisqo