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Big Music Feature

Unleash the Oriole

An Open Letter to Sisqó

John Malloy

Big Music Issue 2001

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Unleash the Oriole An Open Letter to Sisqó | By Vincent Williams

All About Artscape Your Guide to the Best of the Fest | By Lee Gardner

By Vincent Williams | Posted 7/11/2001

Dear Sisqó,

How are you? I am fine. I see the new album's out. Hope it's as successful as your debut. It looks like things are really rolling for you. I saw you on MTV Cribs! Woooooo . . . you makin' it happen, dog! I'm proud of you!

There's been so much going on with you since last we spoke. I didn't see that movie you were in because, you know, it looked like it sucked ass, but that's so cool that you got to be in one of those wacky teenager movies and not just consigned to the ghetto-fab soundtracks ("featuring new music from Ja Rule, 112, Blu Cantrell, and some other girl group that you'll never hear from again!"). You were on the cover of Teen People. I didn't think black people were allowed on the cover of Teen People. And even though the sitcom fell through, you did a pilot with Bob friggin' Newhart. Newhart! The man's a legend, and you got down. Yep, you are a good son of Baltimore.

Which is sort of the point of my letter. You got to do a better job than you are of reppin' B-more to the outside world. Don't get me wrong--you do an OK job. We all know your group's name, Dru Hill, is a Baltimore reference, and you don't shirk from telling people where you're from in interviews and stuff. Heck, I'm pretty sure I've seen you rocking Oriole and Raven gear on occasion. But I need you to do more.

I'm pretty sensitive about the whole hometown pride thing because I'm resting my head in Philly now. Now, you wanna talk about cats with love for their town, then you're talking about Philly. Just ask Destiny's Child. Everyone was so shocked and appalled that they got booed in Philly when they performed at halftime during the NBA playoffs because one of them was wearing Laker gear. But you know what? I've been here for six months, and I was impressed the fans didn't bum-rush them from the stands like a European soccer crowd. No one loves Philly more than Philly folks.

They have a beautiful sense of history here too. All through the city there are building-high murals dedicated to John Coltrane and Patti LaBelle and Frank Rizzo and everyone associated with Philadelphia. Sigma studio, home of the Philly sound, looks like it did back in the '70s. It's nothing to see Bill Cosby posters and Will Smith signs all over the place. And even though the Allen Iverson jersey is the piece of urban summer wear to own, just like in the rest of the country, you could make a good drinking game out of the number of classic Dr. J jerseys you see kids rocking.

The love extends to the entertainment field too. If you've listened to Jill Scott for more than five minutes, you know she's "Jilly from Philly." Musiq Soulchild starts his album with "The M-the U-the S-the I-the Q from Philllllllllly." And everyone knows the mighty Roots have been "all the way live from 215" for damn near a decade. Don't even get me started with movies. Philadelphia was some sad shit, but, dag, didn't the city look purty? How about that lovely shot of the train station in Unbreakable? Good, good stuff.

Compare that to the way our lovely hometown is depicted. We never really saw any of Baltimore in Roc, and let's face it, only nine people watched the show anyway. Barry Levinson has a weakness for the city, but all his Baltimore movies are set in the '50s and have nothing to do with the here-and-now. Dare I mention The Corner? And the crowning jewel of Baltimore's on-screen history, Homicide: Life on the Streets? It's arguably the finest drama ever to grace television, but it wasn't exactly chamber of commerce material. "Homicide" is not the catch word you want associated with your city.

You're our shining prince, Sisqó. It's up to you to raise the profile of the city and shout out your Charm City love every chance you get. You need a catchy slogan, like, I don't know, "In the know from the 410" or "See mo' in B'mo." You have "people"; I'm sure they can help you come up with something. I need you wearing Orioles gear as much as Brooklynites wear Brooklyn gear. Be an ambassador for the city! I know it's a lot to ask, and you've already done so much for mankind--literally, mankind--with your championing of thongs, but there's more work to be done. You can do it. You're the Dragon.

Anyway, thanks for listening. Pass on to Nokio that I'll see him at D'ayquon's barbeque in August, and tell Jazz it's ridiculous that he thinks the CIA is going to replace Dick Cheney with a cyborg since we all know they're busy with the Atlantis archeological dig and, anyway, it's the ATF that handles cyborg replacements. Oh, and let that scamp Woody know he owes me a rematch in jai alai! And would it hurt you to give a brother a call? I have a proposition for a chicken-box franchise I want to run by you.

Your pal,

Vince

P.S. Go Orioles!

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