The sad thing is that H-Town, K-Ci and Lingerie all sound really good. It’s just that they are singing a really really really bad song that isn’t the least bit sexy or sensual – and yet they really seem to think it is.
Pretty Ricky exists in this weird world where we need a 21st century H-Town, a group of gifted singers that squandered its entire career with a single-minded focus on sex.* But we actually don’t need that. Sex is everywhere in modern black pop and R&B. And few, if any of these artists, are saying anything interesting or new or clever about sex. Especially Pretty Ricky.
But as derivative and unfocused as Pretty Ricky is musically, with its constant revolving door of talented lead singers, the group really has brought something important to black music – a striking, almost nonchalant, queering of black masculinity.
When Pretty Ricky’s H-Town obsession first surfaced in 2008 – a note-for-note cover of “Knockin Boots,” that worked only in the sense that former lead singer 4 Play managed to sound exactly like Dino and Shazam – it resulted in a video that remains one of the most radically queer videos that I’ve ever seen.
But I guess when you have GI, Shazam, and Jodeci in your video, you can’t be too gay. Sad, because absent their queer video personas, Pretty Ricky is completely inconsequential.
*In fairness, H-Town’s Ladies Night album was a valiant, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to broaden its image.