This stunning biography of Sisqo follows "The Man Behind the Thong's" life and career.
Sisqo broke into the music scene with his top five album, Unleash The Dragon and never before has the music scene been faced with such a dynamic cross-over artist. Sisqo's life however, has not always been a success story. He was ravaged by media scandal when his former band Dru Hill had to go to court to be released from their recording contract with Island Records after allegations of violence against the bands manager by record executives. However, Sisqo has risen above this to go on to be one of the hottest rap artists on the scene.
Named one of Vibe Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, Sisqo is a force to reckon with,. In Sisqo: The Man Behind the Thong, Leah Furman finds the man inside the reigning master of the rap world.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||789 KB|
About the Author
Leah Furman is the author of Sisqo.
Leah Furman is the author of Sisqo.
Read an Excerpt
ONELITTLE BIG VOICEFact: In his designer shoe-shod feet, Sisqó stands only five feet five inches tall.Those who have not faithfully followed the trajectory of Sisqó's amazing career over the years are often shocked by this lack of physical stature. The past several months have seen Sisqó become a ubiquitous figure on the music front. He was front and center at the Grammys. He performed a medley of hits at the MTV Video Music Awards.He's a constant presence on the pages of every magazinefrom Ebony to Teen People. There's no denying that Sisqó is huge--no matter what his costume designer says.The secret to Sisqó's success is readily apparent to anyone who has ever seen him in action. Simply put, whatever he may lack in height, Sisqó more than makes up for in sheer talent, charisma, and determination. To his friends, his family, his famous collaborators, and his loving fans, this twenty-three-year-old whirlwind of a singer is a symbol of all the truth that lies in the statement, "Where there's a will, there's a way."There was nothing particularly unusual about Mark Andrews when he came bouncing into the world in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 9, 1977. Contrary to what some may claim, his hair was not the color of white gold and his umbilical chord was not cut so that a flaming sun appeared around the periphery of his belly button. No, little Mark was just your ordinary baby boy.But this was more than all right by Alonzo and Carolyn Andrews, who were just happy to finally get a healthy male into their midst after having been blessed with daughters Donisha, then three years old, and Ranetta, then eight. With Alonzo steadily and gainfully employed as an electrician, and Carolyn keeping up her end of the dual-income household by working as a Social Security claims clerk, the family had the resources to live in decidedly middle-class East Baltimore and provide for all of their children's basic needs.Mark's roots, however, lay in a seamier part of Baltimore.Both his grandmother Edna and his godmother, Berthina Travis, lived in what Sisqó and many others would call the city's ghetto. With both of his parents working full-time, Mark was often shuttled between his grandmother's and his godmother's homes. It was to Berthina Travis that Mark's musical ability first presented itself. "He's always had a lot of energy," Travis affirmed. "You know how most babies clap their hands? Well, Mark always clapped with a beat."Although no one expected for Mark to morph into the character we now know as Sisqó, his parents were quick to imbibe him in all the joys that come with singing gospel music in the church choir. As God-fearing people they wasted no time exposing Mark to the word of the Bible, initiating him into the congregation when he was still only a baby. According to Carolyn's testimony in Teen People, Mark "started singing in church when he was two." By the time he was five, he was already a force to be reckoned with, singing gospel with all the youthful exuberance of a Star Search child competitor. "People in the neighborhood remember him coming down the street singing at the top of his lungs," Carolyn recalled.Always looking to stand out, the attention Mark received through his singing would soon become the most positive aspect of his young life. The next nine years would see Mark religiously rehearsing with his gospel choir. "I still have the tape he made in church," Carolyn boasted. "It's the cutest thing you ever heard."Of course, his music appreciation was not limited to gospel. Now and then, he would mimic his older sisters and sneak furtive peeks at the goings-on on MTV The video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" taught him a lesson he would never forget. "When the 'Thriller' video came out, I was a little kid," Sisqó recounted. "I was scared as hell and I slept with my sister for a week."Despite what Michael Jackson might have done to turn the germinating Sisqó off MTV, the King of Pop did succeed in making an impression. Years later, after Mark had emerged from under the sway of gospel, as Sisqó, the R&B crooner, it would be Michael Jackson to whom he'd look for inspiration when attempting to "move people emotionally."
Lest anyone think that Sisqó spent his childhood cooped up in a stuffy church, sheltered from the pernicious influences of the big, bad inner city, a little clarification is in order. Church was a big part of the young boy's life, but school and his peers played no smaller a role. Whether he was kicking it on his home turf, or chilling with the kids who lived in the tough-as-nails environs of his grandmother and godmother, Sisqó was never at a loss for playmates.Of course, with any group of kids comes a fair share of childish taunting. Mark's crew was no different. Since he was shorter than many of the other kids and had wavyinstead of curly hair, Mark was often a target on the playground. "I used to get teased a lot," he admitted, "and I - hated it."What bothered Mark most wasn't so much the fact that he was smaller than the other kids. Thanks to his family and his faith, Mark's attitude was just as confident as that of guys twice his size. As a working woman, Mrs. Andrews didn't always have enough free time to lavish her son with attention, but she did take every opportunity to share her wisdom and guide Mark through life. "I've never felt threatened by big guys," Sisqó attested. "My mom always told me I don't have to be afraid of anyone but God."Ironically enough, the nickname that really annoyed Mark was the one that he would eventually adopt as his permanent stage name ... Sisqó. Today, Sisqó is always being pestered about the mysterious origins of his name. Why Sisqó? What does Sisqó mean? How did he come up with Sisqó? Well, the story isn't as involved as all that. The simple truth, as Sisqó has explained, is that in his old neighborhood "if you had [wavy] hair like mine as a kid, you looked Puerto Rican. They used to tease me and call me that name, which sucked." Since "Sisqó" sounded Puerto Rican to the local kids, Mark was stuck with the nickname.With the schoolyard teasing running rampant, it wasn't long before Sisqó learned to fend for himself and fight for his honor. Although he'd never been afraid ofthe bigger guys, the four-foot-eleven teen had to prove his mettle to the local bullies if he was going to avoid the fate that usually befalls your standard punching bag. "Unfortunately for me, the immediate clique I was in you had to do something derogatory to gain the respect," Sisqó once confessed. "If you came into our neighborhood and we didn't know you, we'd jump you. And my job was to be the first one to hit the guy. I liked that, because if I was the first one to hit him the next day everyone would be talking about it. It was bullshit. It was stupid. I did all that just to make people think I was tough."To Sisqó, instigating fights just meant making the most of a bad situation. If he was going to be short, so be it. At least, Sisqó figured, he would be the baddest short thug on the block. As he explained, "I've always been the kind of guy that just works with the cards I'm dealt."At the time, this survivalist attitude landed Sisqó in some very bad situations. His attempts to play down his middle-class background to fit in with an inner-city crew meant only one thing--trouble with the law. "My mother and father were middle-class, and my grandmother lived in the ghetto, so I used to spend my summers at her house," Sisqó recalled. "I was that guy that, when the police would come, I would continue to wild out. I had no self-control."Nowadays, Sisqó wouldn't be caught dead with his fists swinging. Never without his trusty oversized bodyguard,Sisqó is the first to say that "the whole thug thing was something from my youth. It isn't about being or not being a thug. It's about being real. I think that is how street respect is earned."Of course, the superstar couldn't always afford the luxury of taking the high road. After all, his path to glory wasn't always smooth. Many was the time that Sisqó wondered if he'd ever make it. In fact, to this day the singer is still fighting tooth and nail to claw his way to the top of the pop-music heap.
By the time Sisqó entered puberty, music had become such a large part of his life that he was already hammering out tunes on his keyboard. Of course, his older sisters Donisha and Ranetta couldn't always appreciate this homegrown genius the way the other neighborhood girls could. "I remember that when I was like twelve years old I had a little keyboard," Sisqó recounted, "and I'd always play my little songs whenever my older sisters' friends came over. They liked it, but my sisters would always be like, 'Get outta my room!'"Needless to say, Sisqó didn't let his sisters' rancor dissuade him from following his chosen course. He kept plugging away at his gospel music just as faithfully as he had when he first joined his church choir. Although he'd catch bits and pieces of the mainstream stuff, it wasn't until his mother spotted him singing along with the classicalmusic that was featured in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry that Sisqó really began to expand his musical vocabulary."Yeah, well, in cartoons, they use a lot of classical music," Sisqó told Launch.com. "It was funny, I was watching cartoons one day, Bugs Bunny or something. I was young, about fourteen, and I was singing the music to the cartoon, and my mother came in and heard me singing the music. My mother felt she should nurture that. She went to the library and got me a catalog of Mozart's music. I started listening to it, and actually, that became the premise of my vocal arrangements.By the time he entered Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, Sisqó was at the top of his musical game. Classical music had helped develop his ear for music, but it was the sounds of R&B that he picked up on the radio that inspired him to continue learning. Although he dabbled in everything from rock and roll to hip-hop, R&B never lost its grip on Sisqó's imagination. Enamored with the soulful music of Jodeci and Boyz II Men, the amateur music man had finally found his calling. Sure, he still had a long way to go when it came to learning the technical side of the craft, but as far as acquiring a knack for soulful harmony, Sisqó was already there. Luckily, he was also halfway to forming Dru Hill, the musical group that would make him a star.Back when he was attending Baltimore's Northeast Middle School, Sisqó's love of gospel had led him straightto his classmate and fellow gospel music enthusiast James Green. At the time, however, neither Sisqó nor Woody, as James would come to be known, had any idea that their fates would intertwine to propel them to the realization of all their wildest dreams.SISQÓ: THE MAN BEHIND THE THONG. Copyright © 2001 by Leah Furman. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.