On his first solo album, ex-Pretty Ricky member Marcus "Pleasure P" Cooper tries to establish himself both as a credible solo artist and as a sophisticated lover-man, as opposed to the more raunchy, juvenile persona of his former group-mates in Pretty Ricky. The Introduction of Marcus Cooper, which was released in the U.S. by Atlantic Records on June 9, 2009, does succeed in helping Pleasure shed his previous image, and he indeed comes across as a grown-n-sexy man on most of the album's songs. Where he doesn't do so well, though, is in building credibility as a singer, since his vocals are occasionally flat.
The history of R&B and Soul music is filled with examples of singers who left groups and became even more successful as solo artists. There's Lionel Richie, who left The Commodores; Bobby Brown, who split from New Edition, and probably most famously, Michael Jackson, formerly of The Jackson 5/The Jacksons. But for every successful solo turn, there's at least one that didn't turn out as well, like when Dawn Robinson left En Vogue or N'Dea Davenport broke away from The Brand New Heavies. And judging by The Introduction of Marcus Cooper
, Pleasure's departure from Pretty Ricky has hurt both him and the group alike. Pretty Ricky has stumbled creatively without his songwriting abilities, and Pleasure's thin voice clearly isn't ready to carry the full load of an album, despite his best efforts. He definitely gets kudos for trying, though; none of the members of Pretty Ricky make a guest appearance on the album's 12 tracks; in fact there's only one guest appearance at all - rapper Yung Joc, who gives a tame performance on the braggadocious "I'm A Beast." The other 11 tracks are all Pleasure. And on songs like the Usher-lite ode to cheating "Boyfriend #2,"
, the sensual ballad "Under"
and the please-forgive-me-baby track "Did You Wrong,"
the results vary.
is one of the album's best songs vocally, due mainly to P's sweet falsetto, as well as subtle, piano-laced production that you'd never find on a Pretty Ricky album. Another winning track is "Birthday Suit," which manages to be playful, sexy and fun at the same time. But for almost every good song, there's also one not as good, with the sole problem being that Pleasure seems to still be finding his voice as a solo artist. At times he's grown-n-sexy, but at times he slips back into Pretty Ricky mode, making it seem like he's still learning who he really is as a solo artist.
When it comes to the song production, for the most part it is solid, and suits P's vocal abilities well. That said, there aren't any backing tracks that will absolutely knock you over and pull you in as soon as you hear the music. But despite it's minor flaws, The Introduction of Marcus Cooper
gives strong hints at Pleasure's potential. With a little more seasoning, he could definitely become a force in R&B music in the years to come. All he really needs to do is work on strengthening his singing skills, and he's set. It'll be interesting to see which lasts longer: his tenure as a solo artist, or Pretty Ricky's time together as a group.