Return of Dragon

Sisqó’s introduction as the lead vocalist of Dru Hill marked him as a standout singer with his big voice in a small body. That group’s self-titled first album became an instant classic among the hardcore R&B crowd. The popcorn sexuality of last year’s “Thong Song” from his first solo LP took him to another audience of young people. They saw him as a potential playmate as he flipped through the video. How else can you explain the fan base of children digging a song about women’s underwear?

Return of Dragon is the next step in Sisqó’s work that is being heard by lovers of soul and the young kids who created a reason for him to be in such places as the cover of Teen People magazine. This acknowledgment of these audiences may explain why Sisqó’s songs are clever compositions that can strike both R&B and pop poses. The strings and singing that don’t overdose on emotion within “Without You” make it palatable in both places. “Infatuated” has some of the computerized quirkiness of a Timbaland production. “Can I Live,” written and produced by Teddy Riley, is the best song here. Riley’s beat stops and starts underneath lyrics sung like slow heart palpitations. You, too, start to gasp from a one-night-stand stalker. For those who really need another “Thong Song,” “Dance For Me” is a slower stand-in. Categories can never hold any art to a format, but calling this sound black pop might not be so bad.

Sisqó said that it was his goal to have Dru Hill dispatch and create a larger audience as individuals, then regroup to entertain a new combined crowd. So far, he has achieved that part of the plan, but with his voice there are many options open to him and the Dru. The talent is here, but there needs to be stronger writing and fresher music throughout. Just think about Puff being a dragon, but holding his fire.

E-mail Tamara Harris at [email protected].

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