At a time when the music marketplace is flooded with carbon copy rappers rhyming over recycled hip-hop beats, a new generation of talent is poised on the cusp of the come-up. Not since the Jackson 5 has the world witnessed a band of musical brothers whose high energy and artistic ability epitomize the phrase blood is thicker than water. That is, until this quartet of Miami-bred kinfolk appeared. Pleasure, Slick 'Em, Baby Blue, and Spectacular comprise the hip-hop ensemble known as Pretty Ricky, and they have emerged with a unique flair, coupled with the discipline and tenacity that breeds chart-topping success.
Their unparalleled style stems from their unorthodox line-up, consisting of three rappers - Slick 'Em, Baby Blue, and Spectacular, and one singer - Pleasure. Pretty Ricky has been aggressively grinding in the Sunshine State and throughout the southeast since 1997.
The guys learned at an early age the value of a hard work ethic. The boys had their very own Joe Jackson in their father, Blue Smith, whom they affectionately call "'ol boy." Blue was the staunch disciplinarian, ensuring that his boys were developing and perfecting their craft.
Humbly beginning as pre-teen dancers for an older brother who was on the verge of his own solo career, the troop performed Miami-based hood dances in the background of his show. Their high-paced antics propelled them into the foreground in the eyes of the audience and not long after, the boys began to contemplate becoming students in the school of hip-hop.
Spectacular, Slick 'Em, and Baby Blue were influenced by The Jackson 5, *NSYNC, Immature, Nelly, Tupac, and The Notorious B.I.G., while the group's lone resident crooner, Pleasure, was honing in on Immature, Usher, Keith Sweat, Stevie Wonder, and Gerald Levert. But influences can only take you so far - what they needed was to find their own voice. They teamed up with producer Jim Jonsin of Unusual Suspects production team fame (responsible for Trick Daddy's recent smash, "Let's Go"), and history was in the making.
"We want to be trendsetters. Everything somebody is doing, we try and go against the grain and do something else just to be different," declares Baby Blue, the serious, business-minded member of the group. Becoming known for their onstage dance ability, the fellas also began to express their unique style with their attire. Donning themselves in sparkling head-to-toe outfits, they became known as "those glitter boys," notes Slick 'Em. As a result, the brothers even developed their own clothing line, Marco De Bleu.
By 2002, Pretty Ricky began tasting greater success with their song "Flossin'," which began buzzing on Miami radio station Power 96. With its infectious Miami bass beat and hook - "me and you, and you and me/y'all ridin' on some 22's and 23's/we ridin' on some 24's down on the beach/no one flosses better/we flossin' forever" - it was an instant hit with their rapidly growing female fan base. The ladies began to request the song on the radio, helping to rapidly increase the momentum and popularity of the group.
Pretty Ricky continued grinding and hustling - writing songs, building relationships with their fans, and doing lots of shows. They have opened for some of hip-hop's heavyweights, including Run-DMC, Lil Jon, Trick Daddy, Trina, and newcomer, fellow Miami comrade Pitbull, whom they cite as someone who has "opened doors, shown us a lot of love, and taught us a lot," announces Spectacular.
In late-2004, Power 96 began playing another Pretty Ricky track, "Grind With Me," with its mellow, head-nodding melody, and their ladies immediately began demanding to hear the song. It instantly became the #2 most requested song on the station, and the group made history when it went on to become the most requested song in the station's history.
In December 2004, Atlantic Records Co-Chairman/COO Craig Kallman was in Miami, where he felt the huge buzz surrounding Pretty Ricky, witnessed a hysteria-generating live show, and hosted an impromptu audition in his hotel room. All of the training 'ol boy instilled in his boys, conjoined with their years of hard work on the road, culminated at that very moment Kallman made them an offer on the spot. "Although other offers were on the table, the impression Craig gave our father was like 'we're going to take care of them,'" recalls Baby Blue. "And they shook on it right there," notes Spectacular.
Keeping their entrepreneurial spirit alive, Pretty Ricky's debut album, "BLUESTARS," will be released by Atlantic in association with the group's own Blue Star Entertainment International imprint.
Pretty Ricky pride themselves on maintaining the niche they have created throughout the years, appealing to the ladies while maintaining their unique look and style of music. "You can't compare us because what we're doing ain't never been done before," states Baby Blue. "We hit every aspect of music. We do club music, party music, love songs, 'I hate you' songs. We try to cover everything, since we're a hip-hop group. Our main focus is toward the ladies. Everything we do is for the ladies."
Pleasure croons about his requited love interest on the hook of "Can't Live Without You," over a bluesy electric guitar while his brothers rhyme about their personal experiences of the people in their lives they can't live without.
"Get Up," a definite club hit featuring Pitbull, with its anthemic horns, pulsating drums, and chorus chant, is reminiscent of Trick Daddy's hit "Let's Go." "La, La, La, La" has the 808 bass bumping as the crew represents where they are from over a catchy chorus.
And with songs like "Girlfriend," "Age Ain't Nothing," and "Would You Be Mine," it's clear whom Pretty Ricky intends to impress. Plain and simple, "we are the sex symbols of the South," asserts Spectacular. "It's like a team full of Jordans where everybody is a star." And that's Pretty Ricky.