Second Listen Sunday :Marques Houston, Naked
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday :Marques Houston, Naked

Marques Houston spent the bulk of the nineties as the lead singer of the teenage R&B group, Immature. The group released four albums before changing their name to Imx, as they began to mature. Two Imx albums, 1999’s Introducing Imx and 2001’s Imx followed, before Houston started his solo career. Houston’s solo debut, MH, was a part of the soundtrack during my first year in the Air Force and is still in my rotation today. However, for this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I wanted to revisit Naked, Houston’s sophomore album.

Naked arrived in stores on May 24th, 2005, a few months shy of the singer’s 24th birthday. From the title alone, it was clear that the singer was looking to be taken seriously as an adult and he succeeds for the most part. For the album’s first single, “All Because Of You” feat. Young Rom, Houston made the wise choice to tap into the popular sped-up soul sample production of the time. Working with producers Tha Cornaboyz, Houston cleverly flipped the 1978 hit single “Living Together in Sin” by The Whispers into an upbeat club-friendly track, with a relatable message.

The album’s title track was the next single and found Houston linking with production duo The Underdogs. Naked was the most risqué song that Houston had recorded up to that point, but he pulls off the song with ease. Tank, Antonino Dixon, and Steve Russell of Troop contributed to the song’s production and writing. All involved get the best from Houston from a vocal standpoint. For the album’s final single, “Sex Wit You,” Houston turned back to the Underdogs once again for another slow cut that anyone who knows the difference between sex and making love will understand.

Per the norm, Naked featured guest appearances by rappers as well. Joe Budden, Rufus Blaq RaRa, and Dame Four all show up for lackluster appearances, which turns the songs into filler material. However, Houston’s strong suit is the ballads. Songwriter Brandon Howard provides Houston with two solid album tracks, “Marriage” and “Cheat,” that explore different levels of a relationship. In addition, the song “Do You Mind,” a reunion with Lamonte Lassiter, a producer from the Immature days, is another winner, as is the album’s closing track, “Everything

The only criticism I have with Naked is that none of the up-tempo material was particularly memorable, outside of the first single. Clocking in at less than forty-five minutes, Houston could’ve had a solid two-year run on Naked, with some stronger fast songs or all ballads. Nevertheless, the slow jams on Naked solidify the album as a concrete follow-up to MH.

Final Grade: B

Top Songs: “Naked,” “Do You Mind,” “Sex Wit You” and “Marriage”

Naked is available on all streaming platforms

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