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Sisqo here to Unleash the Dragon

Sisqo is in Kampala.

American singer, rapper and actor Sisqo is slated to perform tomorrow at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds at a show dubbed Sisqo Live in Kampala. Darius Mugisha takes us through Sisqo’s life, his music journey as a member of the Dru Hill quartet and his solo career as well as his shot at acting.

The year was 1999, the song was Unleash the Dragon done by Sisqo; the dance was simple – jumping and shaking your body with vigor as you threw your hands around like you don’t need them.

The man who behind the international hit was was born Mark Althavean Andrews on November 9, 1978. Sisqo, is an American Rn’B singer, rapper, songwriter, dancer, record producer and actor and he is already in town ahead of his show tomorrow. Sisqo, who also calls himself The Dragon, was the lead singer of Rn’B group Dru Hill, and has also released solo material, including his successful first solo album Unleash the Dragon, which also included the hit single Thong Song.

Raised by an electrician father and a mother who worked as a Social Security administrator, the singer first showed his talent around the age of five, when he began singing in the gospel choir at a local church. However, Sisqo could only be identified for singing around the age of 14, when he met schoolmates James Green (Woody), Tamir Ruffin (Nokio), and Larry Anthony (Jazz) with whom they formed a vocal group.

While working at the Fudgery in Baltimore’s Inner Harbour, the four teenagers sharpened their harmony skills and often entertained customers at the facility with impromptu performances. Eventually adopting the moniker Dru Hill (a name derived from the Druid Hill Park neighbourhood in East Baltimore), the four soon generated a buzz on local radio. During the same time, Sisqo became a father after getting a daughter he named Shaione.

Starting a music career
Word of Dru Hill’s talents quickly spread beyond Baltimore, and in 1995, the group obtained an audition with Hiriam Hicks, who was president of Island Black Music at the time. Duly impressed, Hicks signed the teenagers and took them into the studio to record Tell Me, a song he had been working on for the soundtrack to the feature film Eddie.

Tell Me was released in August 1996, and it managed to reach the top five on the Rn’B charts and eventually went gold. The band followed up the single in November of that year with its self-titled debut album, which went on to sell more than a million copies.

Though each member of Dru Hill brought unique talents to the group, Sisqo quickly established himself as its most charismatic figure. Sporting gold hair, tattoos running all over his body, and a cache of dance moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson, the singer also emerged as an avatar of quirky street fashion.

Sharing concert bills with the likes of Puff Daddy and Mary J. Blige, Dru Hill undertook a world tour in 1998 that was highlighted by an invitation to perform at a birthday celebration for South African President Nelson Mandela. By year’s end, the group had garnered five Billboard Music awards, two Soul Train awards, an NAACP Image award, and had received nominations for two American Music awards.

Dru Hill was unstoppable; they released their second album, Enter the Dru, in October 1998. The album title was borrowed from legendary actor Bruce Lee’s classic film Enter the Dragon.

The charismatic Sisqo was quick to adopt the dragon as his symbol and he insisted that a dragon had to appear on all his stage clothes. Enter the Dru CD reached double-platinum status (2 million in sales) by May 1999. An ardent fan of the quartet, actor-singer Will Smith, recruited the group to guest-star in the video for the Wild Wild West theme song. Foreshadowing changes to come, Smith also invited Sisqo (and the other members of Dru Hill) to join him onstage during a performance of Wild Wild West at the 1999 Grammy Award ceremony.

It was towards the end of 1999 when Dru Hill, although clearly on the brink of massive stardom, surprised fans when the band members decided to go solo. The move was allegedly triggered by one of the members, Woody’s desire to return to his gospel roots. It was however announced that the separation was temporary and the band would reunite in early 2001 to record another Dru Hill album.

Going solo
Defending the Dru Hill breakup to the press, Sisqo told USA Today, “We realised that throughout history … nobody really cared what groups did after their third album.” He released Unleash the Dragon album in November 1999.

Co-produced and co-written almost entirely by Sisqo, the CD featured material that was more pop-oriented and up-tempo than Dru Hill’s ballad-heavy Rn’B. Fueled by the frenetic MTV favourite single Got to Get It, Sisqo’s album achieved impressive sales from the start, but it was the novelty Thong Song, a runaway hit, and its follow-up, Incomplete, that were major hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Thong Song made it to number three, and Incomplete took the number one spot. The success later got Sisqo a doll made of himself by Play Along Toys in 2001.

Dubbed “the official anthem of Spring Break 2000” by MTV, The Thong Song quickly became the most-played video on the network, which helped to send Unleash the Dragon album to multi-platinum status.

Current work
Sisqo finished his third solo album, Last Dragon (completing a trilogy), for release in 2008, but it was never released. The first single, Who’s Ur Daddy featuring the new artist E-money, has been released online, and a music video especially formatted for iPods, cell phones, and other digital devices has been released on You Tube.

During a recent performance in Doha Qatar, Sisqo announced he is currently finalising his third album Last Dragon to be released this year.

The Kampala show
Organised by Skata Records and Cee Cee entertainment, the Sisqo Live in Kampala show is slated for tomorrow (Saturday August 25) at Kyaddondo Rugby Grounds. Besides Sisqo, the show will feature UK-based Ghanaian singer Fuse ODG of the Azonto-hit fame.

The show will also feature leading Ugandan artistes led by Jose Chameleone, Bobi Wine, Jackie Chandiru, Leila and Young Mulo. According to the organisers, both Sisqo and Fuse ODG are expected to travel with their own proffesional dancers.

The gate charge for the concert is Shs 25,000 for general sitting and Shs75,000 for VIP but there will be a platinum section which will go for Shs150,000. Gates will be open at 5pm. The show is sponsored by Silk Events and UTL

The Kampala show
Organised by Skata Records and Cee Cee entertainment, the Sisqo Live in Kampala show is slated for tomorrow (Saturday August 25) at Kyaddondo Rugby Grounds. Besides Sisqo, the show will feature UK-based Ghanaian singer Fuse ODG of the Azonto-hit fame.

The show will also feature leading Ugandan artistes led by Jose Chameleone, Bobi Wine, Jackie Chandiru, Leila and Young Mulo. According to the organisers, both Sisqo and Fuse ODG are expected to travel with their own proffesional dancers.

The gate charge for the concert is Shs 25,000 for general sitting and Shs75,000 for VIP but there will be a platinum section which will go for Shs150,000. Gates will be open at 5pm. The show is sponsored by Silk Events and UTL

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