Marques Houston has a résumé that spans 20-plus years, but success didn't come easily or without a price. The singer/actor dedicates his latest project, Famous (released on Aug. 27), to fans who supported him through it all. After a three-year musical hiatus, Houston chats with VIBE about his new music, the new rules of R&B and his thoughts on Miley Cyrus twerking. —Terry Carter Jr. (@KINGBeysus)
VIBE: Famous is your first album in three years. How are you feeling about the response from fans so far?
Marques Houston: I'm very overwhelmed. I thank God first. And I have to say thank you to all my wonderful fans. The album came out at Number 2 on the iTunes R&B charts. I'm really excited. After three years, to be able to come back with an album and work so hard on it and all the fans appreciate it, it's totally a great feeling.
Tell us why you chose the title Famous.
It started as an inside joke between me and my circle of friends and family members. I've been blessed with such a long career. Twenty-plus years. I've been known to do so many different things like Sister, Sister or You Got Served or Immature, and my solo career. So it's one of those things where people are like, "You're famous for so many things." I would go places and people would know me from Sister, Sister and didn't know that I sing or they would know me from Immature but didn't know that I acted. They'll just know my face and they'll be like, "Excuse me, are you famous?" [Laughs]
This is your sixth album. How was the recording process different this time around?
With this album, it was more intimate because I had been away from the game for such a long time. The reason I decided to come back was because of my fans [were] hitting me up on Instagram and Twitter and saying, "Marques, we need a new album!" I had to give my fans what they were asking for. It was a lot more pressure knowing that I had the fans waiting on this one and wanting this one. I felt more attached because I wanted to make it great and I didn't want to let my fans down.
What were some of your inspirations during those sessions?
A lot of my musical inspiration were the old school artists like Prince and Marvin Gaye. With this album I didn't want to make it sound like anybody else album out there. I stopped listening to the radio, stopped watching videos. I didn't watch TV for three months while I recorded the album. It's blues, it's rhythmic, it's jazzy. I wanted to create what I call a masterpiece for my fans. I got involved with my fans on Twitter, asking, "What kind of music y/all want?" I really put my heart and my soul into this album. I want them to hear my passion and my love that bleeds through this album.
On the opening track, "Only You," you sampled Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get It On." Why remake that record?
I've always been a huge Marvin Gaye fan. He was the original King of R&B. The ladies loved him. We all kinda patterned ourselves after Marvin Gaye as far as being a suave ladies man. I didn't want to remix "Let's Get It On" because it's one of my favorite Marvin Gaye songs. I wanted to put my own style into it and give the new generation of music lovers a new twist on that record.
Have you learned anything new about yourself while recording?
I learned that music is definitely my first love. Sometimes when you go away from it you start doing other things. Like Justin Timberlake when he started acting, rumors were out there that he wasn't gonna make another album, but when he came back he came so powerful. As an artist sometimes when you're doing other things you can kinda forget where your passion lies, but when you get back in the studio it's like, "Oh okay, now I see. This is what I was born to do." And that's what I felt recording this album.
You've always been an R&B artist, but the genre has crossed over into electronic dance music lately. Thoughts?
I felt like it was in a state of 911 before, but when you talk about artists like Miguel, Frank Ocean, TGT and myself included, we are not bringing back R&B but we are reminding you why you fell in love R&B. Reminding you why R&B made you wanna make love. Made you wanna be in love. Made you feel sexy. Made you wanna go to the concert and sing along like, "Ooh, that's my my jam!" [Laughs]
How were able to escape the child star curse?