SisQó wasn’t quite a one-hit wonder, but he’s primarily known for his 2000 tune “Thong Song.” It achieved, among other things, four Grammy nominations and hit number one in the charts all over the world. But SisQó – real name Mark Althavean Andrews – never quite achieved the same success again. He slowly disappeared from the spotlight, leaving everybody wondering what had happened to him.
SisQó grew up in Baltimore, Maryland loving hip-hop. He loved it so much that while still in school he formed his own group, Legacy. Legacy found themselves working at a venue called The Fudgery, a fudge factory which doubled as an entertainment hall. Things developed from there: an Island Black Music executive noticed them and asked them to record a song – “Tell Me” – for the soundtrack to the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg film Eddie.
The group signed to Island Records and changed their name to Dru Hill, in reference to Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park. In 1996 they released their debut album – titled Dru Hill – and it went platinum, selling more than a million copies. More hits followed, such as “How Deep Is Your Love” which featured on the soundtrack to the hit 1998 Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker movie Rush Hour.
That same year Dru Hill unleashed their second album, Enter the Dru. But it was clear that the group dynamics were shifting dramatically. SisQo was now the lead singer and, unlike the previous album, almost all of the songs were performed by him. The charismatic singer was arguably too big for the band.
Indeed, by 1999 Dru Hill had split up, and SisQó decided to pursue a solo career. He already had the stage presence to make it on his own, after all. His wacky outfits and brightly colored hair made him different to everything else on the market. He released his first solo album, Unleash the Dragon, in 1999. And then came “Thong Song.”
“Thong Song” was an absolute mega-hit. It was one of the biggest songs of 2000, setting the charts on fire across Europe as well as America. It was sexy, but more importantly, it was silly and it became a teen party anthem. It also kick-started a wave of “booty” music videos in which women danced while wearing very skimpy clothing.
There was some minor displeasure about this at the time, with critics saying that the video was sexist and exploitative. And it did indeed show a lot of women wearing bikinis, g-strings and, of course, thongs. An alternative version of the video, released for the movie Nutty Professor II: The Klumps the same year, went just as far. But a little controversy never hurt anyone.
In 2017, SisQó reminisced about “Thong Song” to Billboard magazine. “We were laughing at first, like it was a joke, but later we laughed all the way to the bank,” he said. “That specific song, within the arsenal of songs I’ve written, is a bit of an anomaly. You can never write another one of those kind of songs.”
And unfortunately, he was right. SisQó was so popular in the early ’00s that there were even dolls of him but soon the spotlight began to fade. He tried to get into acting, appearing in the movies Get Over It and Snow Dogs and on TV in Sabrina The Teenage Witch. But ultimately, it was to no avail. His second LP, 2001’s Return of the Dragon, was a financial disappointment.
Dru Hill was also falling apart. One band member, Woody, left the group in 1999. And SisQó’s other commitments lead to the band not reuniting in 2000, as they had originally planned. Things came to a head in November of that year, when SisQó reportedly stormed out of a photo shoot that the band were doing for Vibe magazine. That was it – seemingly, they were more or less finished.
The band tried to keep it together for the sake of their fans, eventually releasing the Dru World Order album in 2002. But by 2005 they had lost their music contract and by 2008 they were fighting again, this time live on Baltimore radio. SisQó’s solo career had also gone downhill. He then started to pursue reality television.
First, in 2008, SisQó appeared on show called Gone Country, in which celebrities attempted to become country music stars. It was a novelty idea, but he clearly needed more than just novelty ideas. Two years later, he appeared on the UK TV show Celebrity Big Brother. He didn’t win; he also didn’t get the exposure that he perhaps needed.
After that, the rest of Dru Hill got into the reality TV game as well. In 2010 they all appeared on Keith Sweat’s Platinum House on Centric, which advertised itself as “a reality series following the reunion of R&B group Dru Hill as the guys work on an album and attempt to sort through the issues that have plagued the group in the past.” But that, too, wasn’t the comeback that anyone had hoped for.
The beleaguered band did release one album in 2010, InDRUpendence Day, starring a new fourth member who had won a talent show called Dru Idol. But it wasn’t all that successful, only reaching number 30 in the US charts and receiving middling critical reviews.
SisQó was now starting to gain the label “washed-up.” He embarked on the TV show Celebrity Wife Swap in 2013, along with his girlfriend Elizabeth Pham and his kids Ryu and Shaione. “Although Sisqo and I are more in love now than the day we met, we’re in no rush to tie the knot,” Elizabeth wrote on her profile for the show’s website. “The saying in our family is that, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’”
Although SisQó’s personal life seemed to be going fine, his professional one took another dive in 2015. He and Dru Hill filed a lawsuit against record companies Sony/ATV and EMI, whom they had signed contracts with in 1996, claiming that the companies had paid royalties in such a way that meant the band members had received very little money.
Unfortunately, the lawsuit didn’t pan out how the band wanted. In 2017, a judge dismissed all the claims. But SisQó wasn’t quite finished yet. He found himself a new creative outlet: Twitter. And he was good at it. His mixture of self-promotion and genuine glances into his life (and hairstyles) earned him over 72,000 followers.
And in July 2017, SisQó suddenly released a new track that no one was expecting. It was a remake of “Thong Song”, complete with a whole new video and backup from Norwegian DJ group JCY. People were both shocked and delighted at the news. SisQó gave an interview to Buzzfeed about what had inspired him to recreate his most famous hit.
″I’ve been asked so many times over the years to make a new version of ‘Thong Song’ and I have declined every time, until I heard the new version that JCY did,” SisQó said exclusively to the website. “I thought it was dope and figured maybe it was time to put some new rims on the Bugatti.” No kidding!
In 2016, SisQó told Oprah on her Where Are They Now? show that nobody knew who he was anymore and he had fallen from “the top of the mountain.” But there’s a chance he may yet be able to climb back up the mountain again – with a little help from “Thong Song” and the concept of sexy underwear, of course.