Sisqo c. 1976–

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Sisqo c. 1976


At a Glance

Put Group on the Back Burner

Became a Multi-Media Hit

Selected discography


Multi-platinum-selling singer Sisqo launched his solo career from Dru Hill, the successful R&B group he formed as a teen. Dru Hills first two albums, Dru Hill and Enter the Dru, produced six number one singles, but Sisqo is most known for his own Thong Song, off his multi-platinum solo debut Unleash the Dragon. The naughty ode to womens lingerie became the party jam of summer 2000 and took Sisqos career in many different directions. He endorsed Pepsi and McDonalds in television commercials and appeared in the comedy film Get Over It. He signed a book deal, planned to launch a clothing line called Dragon, and reportedly signed a five-film deal with Miramax. The decision to broaden his horizons may have been a sound one for the wildly dressed, platinum-haired singer.

Sisqo was born Mark Andrews to Alonzo, an electrician, and Carolyn Andrews, a Social Security worker. He grew up with his parents in a middle-class neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, but spent summers at his grandmothers house in a tough, drug-ridden Baltimore ghetto. There, he told TV Guide, Thugs were respected. It was during those summers that Sisqo got caught up in criminal street life and was jailed three times. While in a jail cell as a teen, The singer decided he needed to change his life. According to TV Guide, the incarcerated 16-year-old said to himself, Im not a thug. Im just trying to be a thug. When he got out, Sisqo altered his image and his life. The key is making everybody feel like they can invite you into their house, Sisqo told Rolling Stone. I dont think you gonna ever catch me in no trouble.

In 1995 he formed the R&B group Dru Hill with high-school friends Jazz (Larry Anthony Jr.), Woody (James Green), and Nokio (Tamir Ruffin). The group took its name from Druid Hill Park, the boys Baltimore neighborhood. With pressure from his father, who disapproved of his musical aspirations, Sisqo took a series of real jobs. He worked at a pizza joint, a movie theater, and the Fudgery, a candy store where employees perform for customers. Sisqowho got his nickname as a kid for his wavy hair, which made him look Puerto Ricangave up his pursuit of a real job when his mother told him to follow his heart. His father later became his biggest fan.

Dru Hill attracted the attention of a manager at a talent show when Sisqo was still a high-school junior. Things moved quicklyDru Hill signed with Island Records

At a Glance

Born Mark Andrews on Nov. 9,1978, in Baltimore, MD; son of Alonzo, an electrician, and Carolyn Andrews, a Social Security worker); children: Shaione.

Career: Singer. Formed Dru Hill with high-school friends Jazz (Larry Anthony Jr.), Woody (James Green), and Nokio (Tamir Ruffin), 1995; signed with Island records; released debut album, Dru Hill, 1996; released Enter the Dru, 1998; released solo debut, Unleash the Dragon, 2000; hosted MTV show, Sisqos Shakedown, 2000; toured with NSync, 2000; appeared in film, Get Over It, 2001; released Return of Dragon on his own Dragon record label, 2001.

Awards: Two Radio Music awards, six Billboard awards, a Source award, MTV Video Music Award, World Music Award, all 2000.

Addresses: Record company Def Soul, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019. Websites Official Sisqo Website, Official Def Soul Website,

and released its wildly successful first record, Dru Hill, the next year. Between Dru Hill and the second release, Enter the Dru, the group chalked up six number one singles with Tell Me, In My Bed, How Deep Is Your Love, These Are The Times, Five Steps, and Were Not Making Love. Though nominated, awards eluded the group, which frustrated Sisqo.

Put Group on the Back Burner

In 1999 Dru Hill collaborated with rapper and actor Will Smithwho became a huge influence on Sisqoon the title song for the Wild Wild West soundtrack. During shooting of the Wild Wild West video, Woody left Dru Hill to sing gospel music. Sisqo soon realized that after four years together, Dru Hill needed a break. So the members of Dru Hill decided to each record his own solo record and get together later to record another Dru Hill album. We looked at other groups like Boyz II Men and Jodeci, Sisqo told Billboard, and realized that by their third album their sales had begun to drop. I was like the public had become bored with them. We wanted to avoid that.

Sisqowith Will Smiths advicemade a decision about the direction of his solo career. The two agreed that anything Sisqo released would have to be classy.

No hardcore anything, they had agreed, Sisqo told TV Guide. Then Smith heard Thong Song, the first single from Sisqos 1999 debut album, Unleash the Dragon. The single, about womens scant bikini bottoms and underwear, and the video, which featured plenty of women wearing them, hardly bore the touch of class they had discussed. The risque hit did have a sense of humor which Smith and millions of fans could appreciate. Thong Song became the party anthem of the spring and summer of 2000, and Unleash the Dragon went on to sell five million copies.

Fans went wild for Sisqos dynamic personality, which he claimed to have inherited from his mother. Sisqo also claimed that his personality made up for other characteristics he may have been lacking, like height, the five-foot-five-inch singer told Jet. Critics likened Sisqo to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, the artists childhood idol. Entertainment Weekly called Unleash the Dragon over-sung, over-produced, and too dependent on bump-and-grind tempos, but Los Angeles Times critic Connie Johnson wrote that Sisqos youthful fervor and imagination made him worthy of attention.

Unleash the Dragon earned Sisqo the awards he missed out on with Dru Hill. He won two Radio Music awards, six Billboard awards, a Source award, an MTV Video Music Award, and a World Music Award, and was nominated for four Grammys and two American Music Awards. Incomplete, a ballad off Unleash the Dragon, reached number one on both the pop and R&B sales charts. The Thong Song singer also became known for his wild stylesported tattoos, piercings, platinum-colored hair, and colorful fashions covered in rhinestones and his signature dragon emblem.

Became a Multi-Media Hit

The sudden popularity of Thong Song led to Sisqos emergence as one of pop musics hottest new voices, according to TV Guide. The Thong Song video became a top-requested video on Total Request Live, a viewer-voted video show on MTV. Sisqos appeal to MTV fans was so overwhelming, the cable network gave the singer his own dance competition show, Sisqos Shakedown, which was the networks highest-rated show during the summer and fall of 2000. He toured with pop sensations NSync and Pepsi and McDonalds hired the artist to push their products on TV. He appeared in the comedy film Get Over It, shot Winterdance with Cuba Gooding Jr., signed a book deal, and planned work on a TV sitcom pilot.

Overt sexuality drove Sisqos success on his first release, but he hoped to get away from that on his second, Return of Dragon. Im done with the whole sex thing, he told Entertainment Weekly. Everybody got the point; they over-got the point. He wanted Return of Dragon listeners to focus solely on my talent, he told Teen People. Some critics found that difficult. Washington Post critic Britt Robson wrote Return of Dragon was much stronger than it predecessor, but called it a collection of wannabe hit singles disappointing, and a little distasteful. People critic Ericka Souter was kinder, Sisqo is still kicking, as he artfully fuses an R&B style with up-tempo rap rhythms, though she admitted the albums first single, Off the Corner, could not quite muster that Thong Song magic. Los Angeles Times critic Marc Weingarten went a step further, theres nothing even remotely as good as Thong Song here, he wrote.

Sisqo the singer pushed his career as Sisqo the multimedia property. His two protegee groups, Lovher and the Associates, had been signed to major labels and his clothing line, Dragon, was set to launch. Upon the release of Return of Dragon, it was reported that he had signed a five-picture film contract with Miramax films. I want my name to go down in history as one of the talents, he told People. I want to be a big hero.

Selected discography

with Dru Hill

Dru Hill, Island, 1996.

Enter the Dru, Polygram, 1998.


Unleash the Dragon, Def Jam, 1999.

Return of Dragon, Dragon, 2001.



Billboard, November 27, 1999, p. 26; October 9, 1999, p. 34.

Entertainment Weekly, January 14, 2000, p. 78; March 2, 2001, p. 69.

Jet, August 7, 2000, p. 60.

Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2000, p. 1; June 17, 2001, p. 1.

People, April 27, 1998, p. 41; June 12, 2000, p. 147; December 25, 2000/January 1, 2001, p. 136; June 25, 2001, p. 44.

Teen People, May 2001, p. 89.

TV Guide, August 26-September 1, 2000, p. 40.

Washington Post, June 20, 2001, p. CI.


All Music Guide, (May 31, 2001).

Internet Movie Database, (July 13, 2001).


Additional information was provided by Island/Def Jam publicity materials, 2001.

Brenna Sanchez