Christmas In Baltimore
90’s R&B sensation Dru Hill dropped a holiday album titled “Christmas in Baltimore,” and it’s got a few bangers. As a woman of a certain age, I remember when Dru Hill was in heavy rotation on the radio, on BET, and at the college parties; and this album reminded me why. It’s simple really…they make good music. Gospel-inspired harmonies, catchy hooks, and lyrics for lovers. This Christmas album has all of that and then some. It’s the kind of album that you can play straight through. No need to skip…but you may want to rewind.
Shout Out to B-More
As Baltimore natives, Nokio say that they rep their city all around the world. He acknowledged that people tend to focus on the crime and poverty associated with Baltimore, but the group sees this album (as well as the video that they shot for it) as a way to show a different side of the city. For Dru Hill, Baltimore is not just a place where you need to ‘B-More careful,’ and naming the album “Christmas in Baltimore” is their way to show love,
“We wanted to give people a chance to see a side of Baltimore that you don’t normally see. We love to show the love that we have for our city no matter where we go and this was the perfect gift to give.”
Something For Everybody
When speaking to the group, Sisqo suggested that the Dru Hill sound is for everyone, eight to eighty, and that mass appeal is definitely infused into this holiday Album. Your granny who is the president of the church mother’s board will like their soulful rendition of the Christmas classic, Silent Night. Your college aged niece who’s home for the holidays can rock with “Tis The Season,” a millennial friendly mid- tempo joint over a trap beat. And those of us who are old enough (and fortunate enough) to have lived 90’s R&B, but still young enough to Milly Rock, we’ll love it all!
Nokio talked about the process of working with producer Troy Taylor to craft a sound that captures the vibe of what’s current in music, without compromising the sound that their core audience has come to love.
“Troy Taylor produced the album. He came in and was able to help us find the bridge between where we are and where we’ve been as artists. And at the same time being able to do things that [appeal] to people who may have never even heard us…It’s old school and new school mixed together.”
Sisqo chimed in to add that the Dru Hill audience has been growing as a younger people discover the greatness of 90’s music via social media and streaming.
“In the last 4-5 years there’s been a surge of younger fans discovering the resurgence of the 90’s and music that they never heard before.”
Some of you who grew up on Dru Hill as I did may be wary of any changes to the formula, but I think the group did a great job of striking a balance between current trends and classic tunes. I’m typically inclined to agree with a popular social media meme that says “If it don’t feel like 90’s R&B, I don’t want it.” But that’s not realistic. All things must change.
Change is one of the only certainties of life, and music is no exception. Sometimes if we refuse to grow or try something different, we cheat ourselves. I’m so glad that Dru Hill took a chance with a dancehall beat on “Get Away.” I dare you not to like it. I promise you won’t be able to hear it and stay still. Instead of playing it safe and cheating us, they took a chance and treated us to a feel good, infectious rhythm that will make you wine ya hips.
Jingle Bells Meets Baby Making Music
This is admittedly not the traditional Christmas album. I told the guys that if I had to describe it, I’d call it “Jingle Bells Meets Baby Making Music.” They laughed. Nokio said he views the album as the music you would listen to in the car on the way to dinner and then some of it, “is for after dinner when you’ve got those warm Christmas drinks in you.”
With lyrics like:
“No reindeer but you always slay / baby if you take it off it’s a holiday,” and “Turn it off you don’t need no phone here/ Take it off you don’t need no clothes here/ Girl you’re sweeter than a candy cane.”
The Christmas theme at times takes a back seat. While listening, I forgot it was a Christmas album. It just sounds like good R&B music. So, much of it will sound just as good in July as is does in December.
Tis The Season
The seventh track of the album conveys that “Tis the season to turn up” but tis also the season to be grateful. This Christmas Dru Hill is grateful for, “being able to be mature enough to have the passion for the music, and be able to work together to make a quality product.” You can hear their maturity in the music, and I felt it during our interview. They were super cool. No putting on airs, no attitudes, no pretense. They were so down to earth and candid…not at all “Hollywood” which is evidence of maturity. It was a pleasure to speak with them and to find out that artists who make such good music also seem to be good people.
I enjoyed the album and if you like R&B music, you will too. Christmas in Baltimore has me on the edge of my seat anticipating the next Dru Hill project, because by the way, they sound in this one, “Ain’t No Turning Down!”
Stay up to date on all things Dru Hill by following them on Twitter and IG @druhill4real. And head over to www.druhillonline.com to get your limited edition Dru Hill Christmas sweaters.
Written By Nicci Page