Anyone who lived through the turn of the millenium remembers SisQo’s “Thong Song” as a pop culture touchstone, and some may remember it as their introduction to the beauty of bare ass cheeks and Miami. But re-watching that video last week, in anticipation of a visit from SisQo, I was perplexed—where were all the butts? The “Thong Song” may have blazed the trail for 2014’s summer of ass domination, but it looks downright quaint next to “Anaconda.” Ahead of the release of his third album, The Last Dragon, SisQo opened up about all he’s seen in his 18 years in the business: what’s changed, what's stayed the same and his unique brand of feminism.
Do you remember the first time you saw a thong? Oh, man. Hop into a little time machine with me, and we’ll go back before the thong epidemic if you will. I was like, "What’s this! What’s this!" Like Nightmare Before Christmas, I was doing that same dance. I think I kind of blacked out a little bit. It was one of those moments: what is that, what have I done to deserve this, this is awesome.
How did you decide that was worthy of a song? I told my homies about it a few days later, and suddenly it was everybody’s solemn duty to go out and hunt for the elusive thong. One of my boys comes back couple days later, and he’s telling a story about a date he was on, and he’s like, “Man you can never guess what she gave me… thong, th-thong thong thong.” I bust out laughing. That little ditty just kept playing in my head, I was laughing for like three days. I was working on a song at the time and I was trying to come up with the hook. I was like what if it’s that right here, it would totally fit. At first it was kind of a joke. Then we ended up laughing all the way to the bank.
I was rewatching the “Thong Song” video today, and there’s not a whole lot of thong in it, you know? Well, at the time, as far as the actual thong was concerned, it was really risqué. We had to edit a lot of the video, skillfully, to try to keep it sexy as well as on television. And deliver said thong. Man, you look at the video now and it’s tame by the standards. A lot of side booty. But hey like I said, fifteen years later, that little item of clothing still has the same effect on anyone.
Do you have a preference? String or lace? You know what, it’s not so much about the thong as it is about the person wearing it. I implore you, if you haven’t thought it through then do us all a favor. It’s funny because if somebody’s really doing it right with a nice physique, it still has that exact same effect as the first time I saw it. It looks like a little present. It gift-wraps the booty.
"Hopefully my daughter don’t get treated the same way I treated girls in the past."
You had this song that had mothers just wanting to kill you. Did you feel like you had to manage that image? Goin’ on tour with *NSync, bam! That will do it every time. But the moms were traumatized when we came out. I used to travel with these six video vixens called the Six Pack. When they came out on that first show and those soccer moms was out front at the *NSync tour, those were the moms that wanted to kill me. It was really easy to be tasteless so on tour—I decided to wear only white, so I appear to be the good guy while I’m singing about that ass. It kind of worked.
Do you think you have to be likeable to be successful? If you want to make it as a pop artist you want to have the kind of personality that makes people feel like they want to invite you to dinner. I got invited to dinner a couple times. Diana Ross invited me to dinner.
2014 has been dubbed the Year of the Booty, what with Kim Kardashian and Nicki. Did you see the “Booty” video J.Lo did with Iggy Azalea? I haven’t seen that yet. I saw J.Lo's in person, it was awesome. But Iggy’s got a nice one too. Somebody sent me a picture of her—looks like two vanilla ice cream cones. Somebody out there's happy. Someone posted a photo of Kim that said, ‘Kim’s doing her homage to Sisqo on the beach with her thong-th-thong thong thong.’ It’s like a smorgasbord of ass. I can’t pick. You can’t pick just one. It’s like Pringles. They’re all nice, you just want to play bongos on them. Now that would be a dream come true.
Have you seen a big shift from when “Thong Song” came out? The girl I actually wrote "Thong Song" about had a better butt than all of them, but she’s not a celebrity, so you don’t know her name. She was all natural. And so scandalous. Another negro couldn’t handle it. We broke up. Such is life. But I wish her all the best, she’s still got a fantastic body, I can show it to you off the record.
Are you still seeing her? No. No. Uh-uh. I can’t deal with no more of the kryptonite. That onion will bring a tear to your eye, fellas.
I feel as though “Thong Song” kind of opened a door for culture to openly celebrate women’s bodies, paving the way for, say, the “Booty” video. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Sure. I’m a lesbian too! But seriously, I am pro-woman. Growing up in the ‘80s, it was a really chauvinistic world. Having the opportunity to go around the world and meet different women and see different women in different roles, being CEOs and running stuff, my whole take on a woman is just one of respect. Especially because I’ve got two older sisters who used to beat me up until I could beat them up, and then I’ve got my daughter. I just do my best to treat women with the respect that I would want a guy to treat my daughter with. Through the years, the journey to where I am now, there was like some questionable stuff that I may have done so I’ve just been doing the best I can to atone for that. Hopefully my daughter don’t get treated the same way I treated girls in the past. At least the past 19 years, I’ve been reputable.
And now you're back. What are the things you value today? I’m thankful for a lot of things. For my health, I’m thankful to be able to still perform to sold out crowds, 15 years later without even being in the mainstream. I’m thankful for being able to come back into the mainstream and be accepted. I’ve been getting a lot more acceptance and nobody’s really shunned. Before I got out there I was really preparing, you know like Rocky, cracking the egg and drinking it, but it's been really fun.