“I haven’t spoken to Rolling Stone in 14 years,” Sisqo says jovially, by way of introduction. After releasing two albums with his group Dru Hill – 1996’s eponymous debut and 1998’s Enter the Dru – the singer became a household name for 2000’s “Thong Song,” the second single off his debut album, Unleash the Dragon. It would eventually hit Number Three on the Billboard Top 100, and it remains an indelible turn-of-the-century aural capsule, a perpetual soundtrack to our collective spring break.
Those who have long moved past the singer’s ubiquitous hit may be surprised to see Sisqo, who’s kept the celebrity machine going by appearing on numerous reality shows, mounting a comeback. After multiple splits, including a bizarre live-radio breakup minutes after reuniting (more on that later), Dru Hill seem to have reconciled their differences. Sisqo, meanwhile, is prepping the January release of solo album Last Dragon, his first in 14 years, with a pair of singles: the club-friendly “A-List” with Waka Flocka Flame and bedroom ballad “Lips.”
The affable singer discussed some of his more unusual career highlights.
Dru Hill is listed on the website of the fudge chain the Fudgery. Why?
Fudgery Fudge was a minimum-wage job that we had in Baltimore before we got into the music industry, where you make this candy and sing songs simultaneously.
You sing in the fudge store?
So if I’m a 10-year-old looking for fudge, I would walk in and see you singing?
Yeah, see I was a businessman even then because I got us all jobs at the Fudgery, and because we had to sing, we used to utilize that work time for rehearsal and we would get paid. So it was win-win.
What songs would you sing?
We would sing stuff like Stevie Wonder‘s “Isn’t She Lovely,” but throw fudge in there like, “Isn’t Fudge Lovely” just to make it seem like we were working. Instead of singing Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady,” we’d say “Forever the Fudgery.”
Why didn’t you sing “Fudgever My Lady”?
I don’t know, man. That sounds like you’re trying to take the Hershey Highway.
Is it harder to sell fudge or albums?
Dude, selling fudge is not the coolest thing in the world. If you could make that cool, and we did, it was the first lesson in show business. If you could actually sing to a girl while selling fudge in an all-white uniform, that was a challenge.
In 2002, Dru Hill released Dru World Order. In 2010, it was Indrupendence Day. What were some rejected “dru”-related puns?
That’s [fellow member] Nokio’s thing. It’s my job to take care of the stage show and Nokio takes care of the puns [laughs]. He’s the one who came up with the next album title: Sex, Dru and Rock & Roll.
It’s good to see a group bringing puns back to R&B.
Really? Bringing it back? What was the first one?
I have no idea, but it’s good to keep it alive.
You mean like there’d be a Caucasian group that sings soul called White Fudge or White Chocolate. I’d buy a White Chocolate album.
There’s a strange video of the group getting back together on the radio and then breaking up again 10 minutes later. Is that the quickest a band has broken up after reuniting?
[Laughs] You know what, it just might be. The night before, we were talking about going on the radio the following day and then that’s why everybody was blindsided when [former member] Woody decided to leave the group on the radio. We hadn’t gone to sleep that night and Nokio decided he wanted to drink 50-year-old scotch. Woody’s an intelligent, savant-type guy. You got one guy that’s still drunk and another who’s an artistic type, so it just looked weird when they started fighting. I’m glad that’s over.
I have many “Thong Song” questions. I hope you’re not sick of talking about it.
Oh nah, dude. I’m a heterosexual male. To this day, beautiful women still like to show me their best attribute. They don’t send them, but they definitely want me to see them. They’ll get expensive lingerie to wear for me. It’s not a bad thing.
You were 21 when you recorded the song. Did you envision anyone caring about it today?
Nah, dude. But every time I perform that song, as soon as those first strings start, everybody jumps into the time machine and goes back to the fun they had back then and the crowd still goes nuts. Instead of getting downplayed, it’s getting bigger with each year.
Is it ever acceptable for a man to wear a thong?
[Long silence] Yeah, about that. When I was on Celebrity Big Brother 7, I donned a mankini for a contest to see who would be “Hunk of the House.” I was at a crossroads. I had to think to myself: If I don’t do this, I’m going to be that black guy that’s like, “Oh, hell no!” I was determined to win, and as far as the women were concerned, I got the greatest ass on the planet. One of the judges thought I had something stuffed in the front of my mankini. I won the event.
The “content” section of the “Thong Song” Wikipedia page simply says, “The song is about women who wear thong underwear and bikini bottoms.” Is that accurate?
I’d say so. It was actually about one particular woman that wore a thong that made me have to write a song about it. I won’t say who it is, though. No need to make them famous because we’re not together anymore, so it’s a wrap for that. It was an ex-girlfriend and every line in that song was literally describing her to a tee.
Does she know that?
Oh yeah. Right before “Thong Song,” I was dating one celebrity while she was dating this other celebrity and then me and that celebrity swapped.
This was Celebrity Wife Swap with two celebrities before that became a thing. Before Celebrity Wife Swap, I was on Thot Swap.
So how does a real celebrity swap work?
Me and the other celebrity didn’t really know each other like that. It was a situation where me and the “Thong” girl started dating, and at the time it came out, she used to date this particular celebrity and I used to date the girl he was dating.
Give me a hint on the other male celebrity.
He’s really, really popular right now in music. Like one of the premier artists.
That’s a terrible hint.
That’s all I can say.
You appeared on the actual Celebrity Wife Swap. Did you tell producers that story to get an advantage?
You would think so, but no. The producers asked me to be a part of the show and I said, “Hey, I’m not married” and they didn’t mind that. They put me on as the season finale and our episode was the highest rated of the season. I did the swap with the “Rico Suave” guy, Gerardo.
If you had to pick one song on the new album to highlight, which would it be?
I like different songs on this album for different reasons. One of the ones I like is a song called “David Blaine.” It’s about explaining to your significant other or whoever your lover is at the moment that the experience you have with her is going to be so magical that you’re going to think, “My name is David Blaine.”
Are you a fan of magic?
I’ve always been a fan of magic. When I was younger, I dabbled in it. As an artist, it’s always good to have some sort of magic involved in what you’re doing.
If we were in the same room, what magic trick would you do?
It would have to be a sleight of hand magic trick. I only need three pennies. That’s all I’m saying.
Has Blaine heard the song?
He hasn’t, but I know he knows about it and said he was a fan of my music. If we do a video, he said he’d love to be a part of it.
You could do one of his endurance tests as a promotional stunt for the album.
Yeah, or make him listen to the song for three days straight and see how he feels.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Make sure there’s an air of sexiness to the whole interview.