Dru Hill was fone of the most popular vocal groups of the 90s, a group that bridged old school and new school, but which never reached its huge commercial possibilities due to internal and external strife.
Founded in Baltimore, Maryland, Dru Hill consisted of Tamir "Nokio" Ruffin, Mark "Sisqo" Andrews, Larry "Jazz" Anthony, and James "Woody Rock" Green. Mark Andrews and James Green met each other in middle school, and both later became acquaintances of Tamir Ruffin when all three began pursuing careers in the music industry. Ruffin, nicknamed "Nokio" (an acronym for "Nasty on Key in Octave") enlisted Andrews and Green (whose respective nicknames of "Sisqo" and "Woody" came from their childhood) to form a singing group. The trio added Larry "Jazz" Anthony, an opera student, to complete their lineup. The group was named "Dru Hill" after Druid Hill Park, a popular park on the West side of Baltimore. Most of their early repertoire was made up of gospel music; the group eventually switched to the more commercially viable genre of R&B.
Dru Hill's big break came in 1996, when manager Haqq Islam arranged for them to perform at the Impact Convention in May. The group was signed to Island Records' "Island Black" division shortly afterward through a production deal with Islam's University Music, and immediately began recording their debut album. The self-titled Dru Hill album was released in 1996, and became a gold-selling album. The first single, "Tell Me", was featured on the soundtrack to the Whoopi Goldberg film Eddie, and was a Top 5 R&B hit in the United States.
Stylistically, Dru Hill was the middle-ground between the smooth, gentlemen-like Boyz II Men and the self-proclaimed "bad boys of R&B," Jodeci. Dru Hill received a lot of criticism, especially from the members of Jodeci, for what was perceived was a direct appropriation of Jodeci's style, particularly in frontman Sisqo's K-Ci Hailey-esque lead vocals. All four members took turns singing lead, with Sisqo making the biggest impression on audiences with his dancing style, David Ruffin-styled emoting, and bleached-blond hair. The Sisqo-led "In My Bed" was the group's first Top 5 pop hit and first #1 R&B hit. Jazz took the lead on the third single, "Never Make a Promise", which became a second #1 R&B hit.
Between their first and second albums, Dru Hill contributed "We're Not Making Love No More," a #2 R&B hit, to the Soul Food soundtrack and "Big Bad Mama," a remake of Carl Carlton's 1981 hit "She's a Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked)," to the 1998 Bill Bellamy film Def Jam's How to Be a Player.
Dru Hill's second album, Enter the Dru, another platinum smash that featured the Top 5 pop hit "How Deep is Your Love," a hip hop styled track which was included on the soundtrack to the Chris Tucker film Rush Hour.
Between November 1999 and November 2000, each member released a solo album: Sisqo a pop album, Jazz a traditional R&B/soul album, Nokio a hip hop album, and Woody a gospel album. Sisqo's album Unleash the Dragon made the biggest impression via the smash novelty single "Thong Song."
The solo careers of the members soon stalled and the group reunited for Dru World Order, adding Rufus Waller, who performed under the name "Scola", as a fifth member.
Dru World Order was released on November 26, 2002. The lead single "I Should Be...". "I Should Be..." was a Top 30 pop hit and a Top 10 R&B hit, but the follow-up "I Love You" made only a moderate showing.
By 2005, Dru Hill had been released from their Def Soul contract and had disappeared from public view.
Def Soul released a greatest hits compilation, Dru Hill: Hits, on October 11, along with a corresponding DVD collection of the group's music videos. Both collections included Sisqó's biggest solo hits, "Thong Song" and "Incomplete" alongside the Dru Hill songs.
During the summer of 2007, Scola released a slow jam compilation CD entitled Scola's Lost Treasures. He is also working on a solo project called From EA 2 Cali, scheduled for release in 2010.
In early 2008, the original quartet version of Dru Hill began touring alongside fellow 1990s R&B acts Tony! Toni! Toné!, Bell Biv Devoe, and their former producer Keith Sweat. On March 6, the group appeared on WERQ, a Baltimore radio station, to promote their reunion. In the midst of their interview, however, Woody announced he was quitting the group again to dedicate himself to his gospel ministry. A YouTube video shows Sisqó walking out on the interview as a result, and Woody and Nokio fighting while Jazz and the manager Kevin Peck tries to break it up.The group held a contest in their native Baltimore for a replacement for Woody, settling upon a new singer, Antwuan "Tao" Simpson. The group never said why they did not keep Scola in the group, although it was later stated by Nokio that "five people [mess] up the money." Before then, Scola however came out and said the reason is that Woody didn't want him in the group anymore because they had a falling out over money issues.
InDRUpendence Day is Dru Hill's fourth album and will be released on June 29, 2010. It will feature the group's new member, Tao. The album has released two singles, "Love MD" and "Back to the Future" It is under the label Kedar Entertainment.