Dru Hill

*When I heard Dru Hill was back with their original manager Kevin Peck I looked up to the Heavens and mouthed “thank you Lord.” Yes, finally I will hear that Dru Hill Baltimore sound again. This week Kadar Entertainment released the fourth anticipated CD of the multi-platinum R&B group Dru Hill titled “InDRUpendence Day” executively produced by Kedar Massenburg, Dru Hill and Kevin Peck. The CD offers 13 songs and three teasers.

“Dealing with leaks,” founding member Nokio pointed out when asked about the delay of the group’s new project. But Nokio didn’t seem to be worried by the leaks saying, “If fans like your music, leaks are just advertisement for the album. You have so many people with leaks. Look at Drake, he had two different leaks and he still sold 400,000 and Eminem (same thing) sold 700,000 (the first week).”

Nokio (Tamir Ruffin) formed the group in the early 90s, which included childhood friends Larry “Jazz” Anthony, Jr. the vocal virtuoso who can sing any genre of music, Anthony “Sisqo” Andrews the passionate Urban Soul singer that the public ordained as the leader of the group, and James “Woody Rock” Green who left the group twice – the last time being replaced by Antwuan “Tao” Simpson – who is affectionately known in Baltimore as “The Soprano.” Kevin Peck who was Marketing Manager at the Afro newspaper in Baltimore saw the guys at a local talent showcase. Peck literally adopted the guys and helped define and market them.

Named after a local park in Baltimore, Dru Hill was signed in 1995 to Haqq Islam’s University label, distributed by Island Records. Island merged with Def Jam Records and in 1999 they signed to Def Jam’s imprint Def Soul Records. During that period the group released their debut self titled CD in 1996, “Enter the Dru” in 1998 – which went multi-platinum and “Dru World Order” in 2002. Hit singles during that period included “In My Bed,” “Never Make a Promise,” and “How Deep is Your Love.”

Their first soundtrack placement was for the movie Soul Food, “We’re Not Making Love No More,” written and produced by BabyFace. That song was the soundtracks’ first single and reached #2 on the R&B Charts and “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” featuring Foxy Brown on the soundtrack for Bill Bellamy’s  Def Jam’s How to be a Player.

Though I am so Dru Hill starved that I could listen to “InDRUpendence Day” from beginning to end without skipping,  I must say my favorites include the first single off the project “Love MD,” a masterpiece, musically, vocally and lyrically – what an outstanding lovers plea. Then there is also “Do It Again” is something you can hear being blast from cars; ”Making Luv,” a passionate song with that trademark Dru Hill harmony and flavor; “Shut it Down” is certainly a club song that gets more explosive as you come to the end; ”Surviving,” another Dru Hill – sure to be – platinum hit; “Away” which I can hear as the back-drop of some powerful major motion picture, and their remake of the Tears for Fears cover song “Rule the World.”

For more information on the new Dru Hill CD, “InDRUpendence Day,” log onto www.DruHillOnline.com or www.Kadar.com. You can also catch Dru Hill on BET’s CENTRIC Network on Mondays at 8pmET in Keith Sweat’s “Platinum House” reality show.

Arrested Development is back ‘Strong’ with new CD and new members

*In the late 1980s an Afro-centric group of mostly family members came onto the scene and stole the show. They called themselves Arrested Development and before the air settled on the music industry they had reached multi-platinum status and garnered two Grammy Awards.

Founded by member Speech, Arrested Development is back with its 9th album titled “Strong” on Vagabond/Cutting Edge Records. With four new members (Tashia Larae, Za, JJ Boodie and One Love) expect some new sounds, but not to fear you will still get that Arrested Development flavor. Past hits for the group include “Mr. Wendal,” “People Every Day,” “Ease My Mind,” “Revolution,” “Tennessee,” and “The World is Changing” – a 2010 hit in Japan (reached #9 on the charts).

Aside from Speech and Eshe other original members include Rasadon (aka Don Norris) and Baba Oje (the spiritual elder). I spoke to member Eshe Gaither (aka Montsho Eshe), who has such a beautiful voice, about where the group has been and she filled me in on how hard they have been working overseas.

When we talked about the CD Eshe said, “It has a lot of edge to it. Everybody comes from a true place as musicians…Speech brings the political edge. I do a lot of dancing…Modern, Hip-Hop to African.”

Eshe, who is about to release a solo project “Life, Live, Freedom – The Billie Gaither Project,” said she has a dance ministry at Solomon’s Porch Ministries that it is not your tradition dance ministry, but an “out of the box” ministry teaching all types of dance Swing and Jazz also.

“Music is true,” Gaither stressed. “It’s coming back around…artists from back in the day are coming out.”

That must be true because lately Arrested Development has been everywhere here in the states. They just did the Tom Joyner Cruise, BB King Lounge and the Essence Festival.

The “Strong” album offers a lot for the listeners. I was hyped to just to be able to hear that Arrested Development sound again with those thought provoking lyrics.

My favorite cuts on the Vagabond CD release include “Bloody” reminiscent to me of Bone Thugs’ Cali style – supported with both African and native Indian influences – is surely a platinum hit; “Greener” a traditional Arrested Development hit with Speech leading the way with some great vocals singing the hooks and harmonizing in the back – I also love the flow of the second rapper; “ La La La,” is a catchy song with an African feel to it; “Africa We Thank You” is a hot number that makes you want to get up and do some traditional style African dancing (even if you don’t know how), and “Freedom”  because it’s one of those songs that could go down in history because of its old American Spiritual feel and its thought provoking lyrics.

For more information on the “Strong” CD release from Arrested Development log onto www.ArrestedDevelopmentMusic.com, www.SpeechMusic.com and for more on Eshe Gaither (aka Montsho Eshe) log onto www.Myspace.com/EsheLifeDance.