HOLLYWOOD — Newcomer Houston attended Los Angeles' Hamilton High School Academy of Music, but his real education came from the city's nightlife.
"As a youngster, ever since I was 15, I used to sneak up in da clubs," Houston said. "I used to listen to Lil Jon, Missy, R. Kelly, DMX, whoever was reigning in the club at the time. It's definitely something I had to go do my homework on, to see what the girls were shaking it to."
Houston's homework is paying off, as he put his dancefloor knowledge into "I Like That," his introductory single and one of the summer's hottest club tracks. Produced by the Trak Starz, the team behind Chingy's 2003 smash "Right Thurr," the song features Chingy, along with Nate Dogg and I-20 from Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace crew.
The track's collaborators are a perfect fit, as Houston's unique style helps bring together Nate Dogg's smooth singing voice with Chingy's easygoing rapping and ladies' man demeanor. Houston likes to say he grew with hip-hop but has R&B in his blood.
"I Like That" is the first single from Houston's debut, It's Already Written, due August 10. Jermaine Dupri, Jazze Pha and the Underdogs also contributed production, but Houston is just as excited about the many up-and-comers he teamed with.
"There's a lot of hungry producers that's ready to put a next-generation album out for my youngsters out there, as well as for my 'hood cats," Houston said.
For the second single, Houston's contemplating the Pha cut "Alright" or a tune for the ladies called "Twizala." "I don't know, 'cause I definitely want the ladies to fall in love with Houston," he said.
Other highlights on the album include a cover of Ready for the World's 1986 funk favorite "Love You Down" and "Didn't Give a Damn," a poignant number about growing up without a father.
Houston will join Chingy as well as 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, J-Kwon, Lil' Flip, Mase, the Ying Yang Twins and Mario Winans at KKBT-FM's Summer Jam on August 7 at the Forum near Los Angeles.