Ranking the Best Dru Hill (and Sisqo) Albums

A couple of weeks ago, I read an intriguing hot take on these here Internets:

Dru Hill is the last great R&B group.

At first glance, I was ready to argue. But the more I thought about it, the more validity there is to that claim.

What other R&B group in recent memory can boast the quality of albums, worldwide appeal and hit records that those Dru boys can? Sure 112 comes to mind, but they released their debut months before Dru’s, so they don’t count. Jagged Edge is another contender, but their best work doesn’t quite match up to Dru’s greatest outings.

Dru Hill very well may be R&B’s last great group.

Their story, though, definitely comes with struggles. Rotating group members, infighting and inconsistent releases have slowed their momentum over the years, but make no mistake – that dragon logo is still the standard for R&B excellence.

With Dru plotting their next moves – Smokey and Black from Playa are now along for the ride – all we can do is patiently await Second Coming, their upcoming release in the new year. In the meantime, let’s revisit the glory days.

Let’s look back at Dru Hill’s career and the LPs that defined them, ranking them from bottom to top. Album quality, consistency, and impact on the genre are how the rankings are determined. As usual, we’re skipping EPs, compilations and Christmas albums (though you should definitely check out their Christmas in Baltimore album if you haven’t already). BUT since, Dru’s discography is pretty limited, as an added treat I’m throwing in frontman Sisqo’s solo LPs in the mix as well.

last dragon

7. Last Dragon (2015)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Bet you forgot about this album! I certainly did, despite the fact that it’s less than five years old AND I reviewed it! Sisqo’s post “Thong Song” career has always been a bit of a rocky road, and that continues with Last Dragon. Occasionally Sisqo picks up steam on this one, other times he’s hindered by huge potholes. But for the most part, his road to redemption is pretty uneventful. Last Dragon makes for a decent listen I guess, but don’t expect to party like it’s 1999.

Forgotten favorites: “Lips,” “Round and Round”

InDruPendence-Day

6. InDRUpendence Day (2010)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: The Dru had a lot to prove with this one. It had been nearly a decade since their last LP, new member Tao stepped in to replace the departed Woody while fifth member Scola also bowed out, and it all came on the heels of a Keith Sweat-produced reality show that aimed to thrust the dragon brand back into the spotlight. The results were mixed, to say the least. InDRUpendence Day (try saying that five times fast – or even one time fast) certainly had its share of highs but they were cluttered in a very inconsistent package. It was far from the comeback they deserved.

Forgotten favorites: “Away,” “Back to the Future,” “Below Zero”

return of dragon

5. Return of Dragon (2001)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: If you’ve never heard of the “sophomore jinx” let me introduce you to Return of Dragon. Following the meteoric rise of Sisqo’s solo career, he quickly dropped this follow up, and man, in no way did it measure up to its predecessor. There are brief flashes of brilliance to be found but, similar to InDRUpendence Day, all that goodwill is lost when surrounded by so much mediocrity. Asking Sisqo to recapture the magic of his debut was already a tough task and this one fell way short.

Forgotten favorites: “Can I Live,” “Close Your Eyes”

dru-world-order

4. Dru World Order (2002)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Dru World Order took a beating from critics back in 2002, but I argued then just as I argue now – it’s not a BAD release. It certainly was the Dru’s weakest at that point but far from a disaster. Scola joined the original for members to form a pretty formidable quintet, which found their groove thanks to production from Nokio, Bryan-Michael Cox and others. The lack of a standout track hurts the legacy of this one (“I Should Be” and “I Love You” both come realllllly close) and things get a little weak on the second half of the album but this one deserves a little more love.

Forgotten favorites: “If I Could,” “I Should Be,” “I Love You”

enter-the-dru

3. Enter the Dru (1998)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: For many fans, this is THE definitive Dru Hill release and it’s pretty hard to argue against that. But arguing is what I do best! All four original members wrote and produced several of the songs here, making it an extremely personal and cohesive release. Filled with hit singles, incredible album cuts and great sequencing, this one JUST misses out on the coveted 5 stars due to a bit of slowdown about halfway through. But that’s just nitpicking on my part – Enter the Dru is still one of the most cherished albums of its era.

Forgotten favorites: “Holding You,” “One Good Reason,” “The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)”

unleash the dragon

2. Unleash the Dragon (1999)

Soul in Stereo rating: 5 stars out of 5

Edd said: I remember EXACTLY where I was the first time I saw Dru Hill’s debut video, “Tell Me.” I was sitting at the kitchen table watching it on one of those grainy video shows (probably the Box, or something similar) and I said to myself “I wonder how long it takes for the hyperactive blonde dude to go solo?” We’d get our answer with Unleash the Dragon, Sisqo’s coming-out party that proved he had undeniable starpower. Not only was he a force on the dance floor, his vocal prowess was top-notch. From the absurdity of “Thong Song” to the overpowering emotion of “Incomplete” this was the album that had Sisqo being mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jackson. Things didn’t quite work out that way but, whew, 1999 was a magical time indeed.

Forgotten favorites: “Is Love Enough,” “Addicted,” “So Sexual”

dru hill

1. Dru Hill (1996)

Soul in Stereo rating: 5 stars out of 5

Edd said: In the mid-90s, with the impending departure of heavyweights like Jodeci, R&B began transitioning into its next phase, leaving a new generation of stars to take the reins. Dru’s debut album helped lead that journey into the next decade. “Tell Me.” “Five Steps.” “In My Bed.” “Never Make a Promise.” How many albums can you name that boast that level of quality singles all confined to one place? Dru’s debut deftly combined the impeccable soul of Boyz II Men with the edge of Jodeci, and this album became their magnum opus. They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

Forgotten favorites: “April Showers,” “Share My World,” “Love’s Train”

Did we get it right? Which Dru albums are your favorites? Tell us below.

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1 Comments

  1. I Respect all R&B contribution. Dru’s included. Yet the obvious influence of Mighty Jodeci on the group (for ME) sends Dru down Hill from consideration as the last greatest. I say that the aforementioned “Jagged Edge”, and “Next” fight it out. These sets of brothers were extraordinarily more original than Dru ever were. That said, I enjoy Dru and Sisqo creative achievements no less.

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