Marques Houston

Veteran

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At the age of 25, Marques Houston considers himself a veteran. OK: roughly 15 years, from Immature's 1992 debut to Veteran, constitutes longevity in any field. It's also worth noting that Houston is one of very few R&B artists with mainstream appeal who first appeared during the early '90s. Though he has dressed this album as something of a significant occasion, it is not a great progression from 2005's Naked, but it is a progression nonetheless. There's a similar distribution of sexually forward roughneck tracks and heart-on-sleeve testimonies, with plenty of material that falls somewhere between the two extremes, but the overall quality of the songwriting and production work is greater than that of Naked and MH. After working beneath the surface, you can even hear Houston sound a little more like a mature adult -- "Pop That Booty" seems like a distant memory -- and he works the more romantic sentiments with enough conviction to indicate that he has more life experiences from which to draw. Several past collaborators are involved, including Rufus Blaq and the Underdogs, and Houston also teams up again with Ne-Yo (who co-wrote MH highlight "That Girl") on "Wonderful," one of the album's several standouts.

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