SoMo’s second studio album, The Answers, is now available today via Republic Records. The 13-track LP, which follows his 2014 self-titled debut album, takes listeners on a musical ride that explores love, sex and manhood.
Rated R&B recently interviewed SoMo about The Answers, where he discussed the creative process, collaborators and more. Here are five things we learned about his new project:
1. It took two years to create the album.
“[The process took] a little over two years of songwriting and experimenting with different production styles, and really just trying to find the right words that I wanted to put together. For me as an artist, I feel like I just tried to piece together the songs that tells my story the best way possible. My sound is commercial but through that I like my art to shine through and my lyrics and whatnot.”
2. He freestyled the intro.
“The track I finished the quickest was probably the intro because it’s a freestyle. It really ended up being the special intro that I was going for. I’m curious about what y’all think.”
3. “Just A Man” was the first song he wrote for the album — and it was his most challenging song.
“‘Just A Man’ was one of the first songs that I wrote for the album. It was just in a time where I was realizing, as a man, all the ways I might have made mistakes. That song is really personal. I really wrote all those words. I sat there for two hours with the melodies in place and really thought I what I wanted to say. It’s cool that it’s been so well-received, especially since it’s like an old school ballad.”
4. He worked with The-Dream and Tricky Stewart (although the song didn’t make the cut).
“I worked with some amazing people on this album. Before I was working primarily with one producer but I opened up to a bunch of different producers for this one. I’m proud to say I got to work with Tricky Stewart and the team over there. I did a couple songs with The-Dream that didn’t actually make the album but it was just an honor to just to be able to say that I worked with them. I’ve been working a lot with this kid named K-Major, who’s coming up as a writer. I also worked with Captain Cuts, Cody Tarpley (who has been there since day one) and Mick Shultz (who did most of my first album).”
5. There are some songs like “Want It” that have a double meaning.
“‘Want It’ is kind of up for interpretation for a lot of people. I definitely don’t want to give my direct interpretation but it’s my allusion to kind of going past the point of wanting someone so much physically that you just want them completely and you love the way they want you back.”
BONUS: If you buy a ticket to his The Answers Tour, you’ll automatically get a copy of the album.
“I’m trying to get the word to my fans that if they buy tickets to my tour, they actually get a digital copy of my album. So if they plan on buying my album, if they just buy a ticket, they will get an email with a link just like everyone else who pre-ordered it.”
It’s nearly impossible to talk about Pretty Ricky without mentioning Pleasure P. As the only vocalist, he naturally stood out with his alluring voice that brought a grown and sexy feel to the provocative R&B/hip-hop group’s sound. The Miami-based group made an impressive debut in 2005, scoring two Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 — “Grind on Me” (No. 7) and “Your Body” (No. 12) — from their gold-selling debut album, Bluestars.
The group saw even more success with their sophomore album, Late Night Special, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2007. The LP featured their top 20 hit “On the Hotline” (No. 12), which was certified platinum just five months after its release. The mid-tempo track, which samples The Isley Brothers’ hit “Between the Sheets,” also peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Ringtones chart — yes, back when people actually purchased ringtones for their phones. Whew, what a time!
Despite all the success Pretty Ricky was having at the time, there were issues behind the scenes, which resulted in Pleasure P exiting the group. In a later interview with VladTV, he explained he left the group because Joseph “Blue” Smith, head of Bluestar Entertainment, allegedly stole millions of dollars from the group. “He was controlling,” Pleasure P said in a 2015 interview. “He stole everybody’s money including his own son’s money. And I just wasn’t happy there.”
Pleasure P’s abrupt exit was certainly a gamble at the time but it ended up working out his favor — well, sort of. His debut album The Introduction of Marcus Cooper (2009) debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It earned him three Grammy nominations, including Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (“Under”) and Best R&B Song (“Under”).
Pleasure P’s winning train began to derail in late 2009 when he was hit with child molestation allegations, which he tells Rated R&B are “one-hundred percent false.” He adds,“The reason why I haven’t released an album since 2009 [is because of a] child molestation rumor put out by some people who I know who was just jealous of me because I was number one. I lost everything.”
In 2012, he attempted to rebrand by using his birth name as his stage name (Marcus Cooper) and put his past behind him. He signed with Swagga Entertainment/eOne Music where he released — what was supposed to be — a comeback single called “I Love Girls” featuring Tyga, who was in his prime with hits like “Rack City” and “Faded.” The two met while on tour. “We had a cool relationship,” Pleasure P says. “He was in the “Boyfriend #2” video when he wasn’t shit, you know what I’m saying?”
Pleasure P adds, “[Tyga] told me to put out the record, so I told my label to put out the record since he was on board. My record label put out the record and serviced it to radio. They spent some money on radio. It’s time to do the video, Tyga says he can’t do the video.” Pleasure P says Tyga’s excuse for not being able to do the video was because he had just “did a song with Chris [Brown].” However, he believes it was another reason why Tyga backed out. “It was really because of the rumors,” he speculates. “I understand why, but I don’t at the same time because if somebody tells you something about somebody and you don’t talk to them personally and they’re supposed to be your friend, I look at that totally different. He put me in a fucked up situation with my label and the album never came out.”
Over the years, Pleasure P has released one-off singles and a mixtape — but nothing more than that. Now, he is ready to make an even stronger comeback. In March, he released “‘You Changed” as the lead single from his upcoming album that is slated to drop later this year.
In our interview with Pleasure P, the singer opens up about his trials and tribulations, his upcoming album, reuniting with Pretty Ricky and more.
What’s the story behind your new single “You Changed”?
Tank and J. Valentine flew to Miami to see me because I recently did a show with Tank and I was like, “We gotta get back in [the studio]” because Tank is responsible for “Under” and “Gotta Have You” from The Introduction of Marcus Cooper album. He flies in and he listens to every record. I didn’t play him “You Changed” first. I played the songs I thought would be the single. When he heard “You Changed,” he was like, “That’s the one and I’m gonna tell you why.” The reason why he said that is because it’s very emotional and it’s something that I went through personally. I thought about it. I was like, “Anybody can make a typical bedroom song but this song is very personal because this is stuff I actually went through.”
What happened in your personal life that inspired the song?
When I was in a relationship, I was on the giving end and she was on the receiving end. It was just a one-sided relationship. After a while, it was like — I had to get the fuck out this relationship because this person isn’t going to change based on how she was raised.
Do you have a title for your new album?
Yes, it’s called Pain.
Are you still in pain from the past?
I’m restored now. This is just shit I’m getting out. I think I’ll be fully restored when I’m back to where I should be in terms of the R&B world. It was taken away from me on some fuck-shit because people were jealous of me because I was winning at the time and they weren’t winning. I feel like I deserve my spot because I’ve always delivered good music and to this day what am I doing? You’ve heard “You Changed.” I’m giving them fucking good music. I don’t sound like anybody. Ain’t nobody going to mistake me for sounding like anybody. [Some people may say], “Oh he kinda whiny. He this, he that.” That’s my style. That’s what took me to the Grammys. I don’t got to be a churchy singer and do all these runs. I didn’t grow up in the church. I express myself the way I know how.
With everything you’ve experienced in the past, do you find it hard to open up or allow people to get close to you?
No, I don’t because I actually got a sixth sense for the bullshit. Once I see the ways of a person, I can tell if they’re good or bad. I rather have a person around me that I know what they’re trying to do versus a person I don’t know what they’re trying to do. If I know you’re a thief, I know not to leave my money around you. Everybody has their ways, it’s just balancing your life out with knowing how to deal with each individual.
It’s been nine years since your debut album, do you feel any pressure to live up to the success of it?
If you look at nine years ago and what I’ve been through, of course, I don’t feel any pressure because I’m so much better. I’m wiser. I sing better. I hear music better.
Are there any collabs on the album?
The only feature I have on the album as of now is Flo Rida. That’s like my best friend in the whole wide world. The reason why I don’t rely on features too tough is because of the Tyga situation and another artist who did the same thing to me — didn’t shoot the video with the second label. When you look at the Introduction to Marcus Cooper album, the only person featured is Yung Joc. I know he’s a good performer, rapper and a good guy. I’ve been to his house he’s been to my house. He’s not going to stand me up for some video or some Hollywood shit.
A Pretty Ricky reunion album has been teased for a few years but we haven’t heard many details surrounding it. What’s the status of that project?
The Pretty Ricky album is done. We haven’t put it out yet because we’re doing a “Scream Reunion Tour” for everybody who was on the “Scream Tour.” We’re going to do it in July. We’re going to put the final Pretty Ricky album out around the tour.
What was your experience working on that project with the other guys from Pretty Ricky?
We’re all grown now and we put a lot of personal shit to the side. Rico Love is executive producing it. I would do my part and call whoever in to do their part. It’s just kind of been like that. Spectacular is in LA now and he has a social media marketing company that monetizes Facebook and different things like that. With him being busy with his business and I’m busy doing my album and working on other people’s shit and building my new label, it’s kind of hard for all of us to be in the same room together.
Who are some newer artists you’re checking out or surprised you’re listening to?
I be in the studio so much that I don’t really realize what’s going on [Laughs]. I listen to Kodak Black, Migos, Khalid and 6LACK. Tank was putting me on H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar.
Ten years ago, Mariah Carey’s faithful Lambs across the world were pulling out their TI-89 calculators to solve the equation E=MC², the title of her 11th studio album.
The album came three years after The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey’s comeback album and the best-selling album of 2005. The legendary diva won many awards for her 10th studio album, including three Grammy Awards. The accolades that probably meant the most to Carey were her two number one singles: “We Belong Together” and “Don’t Forget About Us.”
The latter tune helped Carey bag her 17th Hot 100 chart-topper, tying her with Elvis Presley for the most number one singles by a solo artist. She beat the rock and roll king’s record two months before the release of E=MC² with her sexually fantasizing single “Touch My Body.”
Speaking to the Associated Press in 2008, Carey praised herself for surpassing Presley.”For me, in my mind the accomplishment is just that much sweeter,” she said. “In terms of my ethnicity, always feeling like an outsider, always feeling different … for me it’s about saying, ‘Thank you Lord, for giving me the faith to believe in myself when other people had written me off.'”
What’s baffling though is that following the commercial success of “Body,” the five-octave Chanteuse pumped out three more singles (“Bye Bye,” “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time,” and “I Stay in Love”) but none were fortunate enough to be inducted into Carey’s hall of fame of No. 1’s.
Yes, an artist’s name alone isn’t enough to sell a single. Without backing from radio stations and proper promotion, the chances of a single swimming versus sinking are slimmer than Carey’s ‘90s waistline.
But in all fairness: Carey’s E=MC² album potentially had the right formula to equate her 19th number-one single on the Hot 100 and continue her reign as the undisputed queen of the No. 1’s.
Now as we playback E=MC² (and mimic her iconic finger twinkle) on its 10th anniversary, here are four songs that should have topped the Hot 100.
1. “I’m that Chick”
Credits: Mariah Carey / Johnta Austin / Mikkel Storleer Eriksen / Tor Erik Hermansen / Rod Temperton (Writers); Carey and Stargate (Producers)
Who’s to blame for Carey’s dreamy number, “I’m That Chick” not being worked as a single and skating to the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100?
Revisiting the disco era and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall,” the confident singer tiptoed on the dance floor to enjoy nightlife. Like Usher, Carey found love in the club and used some of the best metaphors to let him know she is everything and more. She also referenced two hip-hop legends Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. to get her point across.
“Take this seriously / Like Pac, all eyes on me / That’s right you are intrigued (I’m that chick you like),” she sings lightly. “I do’s it naturally / Hypnotize like Biggie / But you ain’t havin’ dreams / I’m that chick you like.”
“I’m That Chick” had just the right amount of attitude to dance its way to number one.
2. “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time”
Credits: Mariah Carey / Aldrin Davis / Mark DeBarge / Crystal Johnson / Etterlene Jordan (Writers); Carey and DJ Toomp (Producers)
It goes without saying that Carey’s flirty single “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time” was shamefully robbed from basking in number one glory — and this was long before T.I. was enlisted for the remix.
Borrowing remnants of DeBarge’s “Stay With Me” for the hook and playful production, the jaunty love song heard Carey reassuring her then-husband Nick Cannon that it’s not a game and she’s here to stay.
From its timely release just ahead of summer to its proper video treatment and catchy lyrics, the cutesy tune had many qualifications to become a hit on the Hot 100. However, DJ Toomp co-produced ditty didn’t get close the top slot. It only reached No. 58.
Tell me one good reason “For the Record” wasn’t released as a single?
Bridging the sounds of a beautiful violin and a meek keyboard, Carey wanted to rewrite history with a former mate who foolishly let her go. Even though he’s moved on, she decided to let his mistake of leaving her sink in more by reminding him of how far her love went for him.
“For the record / You’ll always be a part of me, no matter what you do / And for the record / Can’t nobody say I didn’t give my all to you,” she sang.
As history shows, the New York native has an impressive track record with slow to mid-tempo songs (“Dreamlover,” “Always Be My Baby” and “Don’t Forget About Us”) leading the Hot 100. “For the Record” would have been in good company — just saying.
4. “Side Effects” featuring Jeezy
Credits: Mariah Carey / Jay Jenkins / Crystal Johnson / Scott Storch (Writers); Carey and Storch (Producers)
Carey has been fully capable rocketing herself to the top slot of the Hot 100 without any guest appearances. Out of her 18 number-one singles, she has 13 without a featured artist(s). But for her E=MC² era, we’re sure Mimi’s Lambs wouldn’t have minded her calling on hip-hop’s Snowman to release their blazing collaboration.
Blended with a knocking beat and techno effects, Carey had taken her final dose of torture from her unruly lover. Although she finished her prescribed bottle of heartache and pain, she still had to deal with the aftermath of the dissolved love affair.
“I kept my tears inside ’cause I knew if I / Started I’d keep cryin’ for the rest of my / Life with you I finally built up the strength / To walk away don’t regret it / But I still live with the side effects,” she sings.
Justine Skye has spent the last few years developing her sound and is now ready to take over. In January, the Brooklyn native finally released her long-awaited debut album, Ultraviolet. The album follows Skye’s three EPs Everyday Living (2013), Emotionally Unavailable (2015) and 8 Ounces (2016).
The process of creating Ultraviolet wasn’t that smooth. Skye ran into some creative roadblocks, which resulted in her completely scrapping the project and going back to the drawing board. “I wanted to make sure it was perfect,” she explains to Rated R&B. “I wanted to make sure it was true to who I am and that I could tell the story.”
The album includes production by Hit-Boy, Austin Powerz, Frank Dukes, Fred Ball and Jeff Shum; guest features include Jeremih (“Back for More”) and Wizkid (“U Don’t Know”).
Despite all the pressure that comes with an artist releasing his or her first album, Skye tries not to let it get the best of her.
“It’s not about all of the opinions and what everyone else is thinking, saying, telling me what I should do,” she says. “It’s really about how I feel and what I’m happy with. It’s really not about how many records you sell. It’s about how many people you reach and how many people actually feeling what you’re saying.”
Rated R&B caught up with Skye at her Ultraviolet Tour stop in Washington, D.C. In our interview, she talks about her debut album Ultraviolet, her evolution as an artist, her role in the upcoming film Green Dolphin and living stress-free. She even reveals a dish that has her “Back for More” and something “U Don’t Know” about her.