Twenty years have passed since Sisqo delivered Unleash the Dragon, his debut studio album that garnered five platinum certifications, several No. 1s, and multiple Grammy nods. In celebration of the milestone anniversary, Sisqo spoke to Def Jam Recording about the the project's standout track the "Thong Song," which was apparently very lucrative for Victoria's Secret.
"Once I realized how big the song was. I was like we need to go and talk to Victoria's Secret. But everything was moving so fast, it got away from us. By the time the song had blown up, we went to go have a meeting with Victoria's Secret," Sisqo recalled. "They were like, 'As much as we love the song, and you seem like a great guy ... but thong sales have already gone up 80%. They had got their bag already. But fast forward 20 years later and we laughed all the way to the bank too.'"
Sisqo also shared the story about his first time ever seeing a thong, and how his friend helped him come up with famous lines, such as "Dumps like a truck."
"I meet this girl, and I wasn't married or nothing back then, so we get back to the crib, and you know, I'm rounding second base and next thing you know she starts to come up out of her clothes and I see this ... this ... THING. I was like, 'What is that?!' She was like, 'It's a thong!' I was like, 'A THONG?!' … The next day I call all my boys and I'm like, 'Gather around let me tell you tale. I saw this THING. It was like dental floss, but it was underwear. She called it a thong.'
"... The next day I'm working on the song. My boy comes in like he just saw an accident or something. He's like, 'Yo turn off the music! I went out with this girl last night and guess what she gave me? When we got back to the crib, she gave me that thong-tha-thong-thong-thong.' He literally said it just like that. And I was rolling, I thought it was so funny. He was like, 'Plus she had them dumps.' I was like, 'Dumps? Like a dump truck? Like she was backing it up on you?' He said, 'Exactamundo.'"
Though the "Thong Song's" appeal is largely based on its insane, unapologetically horny lyrics, its equally shameless music video played a huge role in its success. Nodding to Wreckx-N-Effect's early '90s "Rump Shaker" video, the "Thong Song" visual finds Sisqo & Co., hitting up the beach surrounded by scantily clad women, most of whom were wearing thongs. And because there was a lot of skin, Sisqo said he and his team had to get creative to ensure the FCC didn't object.
"If you notice when we do show thongs, it's upside down. I was like, 'You can't have a song called 'Thong Song' and not show any thongs in the video,'" he said. "They were like, 'The FCC won't let us show them.' I was like, 'What if you shot the girls upside down? Then technically it's not a thong.' That's why on the beach we shoot at that angle, and we got away with it. And once we got away with that, it's like we opened the floodgates for how much booty you can show in a video."
You can read Sisqo's full oral history of the "Thong Song" here.