HOLLYWOOD — If you thought Marques Houston had bared it all on his latest album, Naked, the 24-year-old singer wants you to know he's just barely scratched the surface.
For his third solo effort, which he hopes to complete by summer, Houston will continue to peel off the layers as he showcases his progression from a kid growing up in the music scene (he joined R&B group Immature when he was 11), to a young man coming to terms with his manhood and, finally, to a mature artist dealing with real adult issues, especially those concerning matters of the heart.
"This album is going to be a lot about love," Houston said. "[Naked] was basically about me becoming a man and getting in touch with my sexuality, and this one is going to be getting in touch with my relationship side and the stuff I've been through as far as a man being in grown-up relationships, and being in love and being out of love."
No doubt Houston is all grown up now, as the singer's ascension into adulthood was rather exposed in the racy videos for his last two singles, Naked's title track and the equally titillating "Sex Wit You" (see "Marques Houston Keeps Taking Off Clothes, This Time For 'Sex' "), in which he proudly displayed his chiseled physique both in and out of the bedroom (see "Marques Houston Pulls A Hulk Hogan, Strips Down For 'Naked' ").
Houston has already penned a couple of tracks for the new disc, which already has über beatmaker Rodney Jerkins on board. The two are old friends who collaborated when Houston was in Immature and Jerkins was still a fresh-faced 18-year-old trying to make a name for himself. Fast-forward 10 years and now Jerkins — who's produced smashes for Brandy, Whitney Houston and Destiny's Child — is ready to lay some of his hit-making magic on his friend's forthcoming LP.
And while Houston wouldn't divulge details, he did hint at some pending collaborations with fellow Scream Tour vets Bow Wow, Omarion and newly "adopted" brother Chris Brown, whom he dropped by to see on the set of UPN's "One on One" (see "Chris Brown Switches Over To Acting — And Can't Get A Date").
"Something might be cooking," the singer slyly admitted. "I'm not gonna give away too much information, but we'll have something for y'all on there."
Still, Houston wants to make sure the main emphasis is on his upcoming album. That's why as soon as his UPN show "Cuts" wraps its second season, the singer/actor plans to hole himself up to really concentrate on churning out some killer material.
"I really want to take my time and make sure that it's my best work yet," Houston said. "I just want to disappear for a minute into the studio and really get focused on writing and doing this new album [because] I want it to be even more personal than my last."
While it looks like acting may be put on the back burner for a while, fans shouldn't fret, because they'll still be able to see Houston on the big screen — he and Omarion just wrapped the teen horror flick "Somebody Help Me," written and directed by Chris Stokes ("You Got Served"). Produced by their new film production company, the Franchise Boys (see "Omarion, Marques Team Up With 'Served' Director For More Films"), the movie tracks a group of teens who take a trip to the wilderness and start disappearing one by one.
With that thriller in the can, the two are still deciding on their next project. Right now it's a battle between a still-untitled football flick or the comedy "Thanksgiving With the Stankershets," which would really have the fellas stretching their acting muscles.
"[O and I would] each play like three different characters," Houston said. "I don't want to give too much away because I don't want anybody stealing our ideas, but [there will be] a lot of makeup."