Every generation has its heartthrobs.
The poor kids these days are stuck with some guy named Alex from Target.
Apparently some weirdo stalker at Target snapped a picture of the poor child, who is basically a Q-tip with teeth. That pic went viral, an Internet star was born and Alex from Target is suddenly getting underaged draws thrown at him. Of course, there are rumors that Alex from Target is nothing but a manufactured marketing ploy — which wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
In my day, the girls had manufactured heartthrobs who could at least sing! Well, sorta.
I know y’all remember Immature. If not, stick around.
Chris Stokes, infamous manager of a bunch of teenybopper R&B groups, met young Jerome Jones at a Los Angeles acting class in the early 90s. At some point, Stokes said “screw acting, let’s become rock stars.” Stokes soon got in contact with Marques Houston and Don Santos and before you knew it, a deal with Virgin Records was in place.
But before the group became superSTARS, they needed superHERO nicknames!
Houston was christened Batman, a name he either randomly received after a show one night, or because of his superhero Underoos, depending on which corner of the Internet you believe.
Jones became Romeo, later known simply as “the one with the eye patch.” More on store-brand Slick Rick later.
And Santos became “Half-Pint,” because they were clearly running out of creative ideas at this point.
The trio dropped their debut, On Our Worst Behavior, in the fall of 1992. And it was trash. The problem with their act is that there were already a billion undersized New Jack Swing acts already on the scene. They did little to distinguish themselves from other groups — well, besides walking around dressed like a pile of dirty laundry. Playa, the early 90s were a dark time for fashion. “Tear It Up (On Our Worst Behavior)” was the only single to gain traction, mostly thanks to its tie-in with the BeBe Kids movie.
This incarnation of Immature clearly wasn’t working. But a reinvention brought success.
First, Half-Pint was removed from the group. Why? His parents wanted him to get a REAL education. It’s just that simple. Props to Mr. and Mrs. Half-Pint wanting more for their son than baggy clothes and watered-down hip hop. He would be replaced by Kelton Kessee, the Little Drummer Boy — LDB for short.
Next, Immature went from a bunch of low-rent rappers to miniature sex symbols. Look at their sophomore album cover, with the rose petals strewn all over the floor. Can’t you tell they’re sensitive now?
Also, why are they dressed like the cast of Living Single?
Anyway, THIS is the version of Immature that struck gold. True, the first single “Never Lie” is so corny and sickeningly sweet that it would rot all the teeth in Drake’s emotional head. But let me speak from experience — ladies LOVED this song in 1994. It surged to No. 5 on the pop charts and became the group’s signature hit. The follow-up, “Constantly,” also made a strong showing on the pop and R&B charts. The album Playtime Is Over didn’t fare all that well but the singles did and along with a ton of acting roles, Immature became a legit force.
Even older women bought into Immature’s romance act. True story: I was 10th grade in 1995, during the group’s peak. I remember being in a library at a table next to girls who were clearly much older than I – I assumed college freshmen. One girl kept going on and on about how sexy Immature was, and she didn’t care about the age difference. Now if I was 15 in 95, I’m guessing Immature had to be about 13 or 14 at that point. Yet college-aged women were admitting in public that they wanted to sleep with those little boys.
Somebody should have called How to Catch a Predator.
At the end of 1995, Immature dropped We Got It, which would go on to be their highest-charting album. The title track, featuring Smooth and an annoying video where old people get FUNKAY at a nursing home, wound up being the centerpiece. The slow jam “Please Don’t Go” also performed well but my personal favorite was “Feel the Funk.” Fueled by a wicked bass guitar, it sounded totally unlike anything on the radio at the time and I’ll admit that almost 20 years later (!) it still gets top billing on my iTunes playlists.
Two years later, Immature returned with The Journey and continued to embrace a more mature sound. I’ll give the group props — they made sure to evolve as their core fans grew up. Problem is, although their sound was evolving, the group still struggled to retain its fan base. The only single from this album that charted was “I’m Not A Fool,” but Batman most certainly was a fool for that haircut in the video. He looked like the fourth member of Total.
However, this was the album that gave us the greatest song Immature ever recorded — “Extra Extra” featuring the R&B OG himself Keith Sweat! Just listen!
Um yeah, clearly Batman is doing the poorest Keef Sweat imitation imaginable but if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. Sadly, the journey was just about over for Immature.
Or was it?
In 1999, the group once again rebranded itself, now calling itself IMx. I mean, they were nearly in their 20s at this point, they can’t still be Immature. It’s the same reason y’all need to stop calling your 40-year-old cousins “Man Man” and “Lil Bit.” But I digress. IMx’s reinvention actually worked, and their fifth album, Introducing IMx, yielded the top 20 R&B single, “Stay the Night.” I have this album somewhere (STOP JUDGING ME) and although I haven’t listened to it since Big Pun roamed the Earth, I remember it being pretty solid. “In And Out of Love” was a banger.
The group returned for one last hurrah in 2001 for the self-titled IMx. Although their single “First Time” only made it to No. 69 (ahem) on the R&B charts, you couldn’t tell that by watching BET, which sadly I still did a lot in 2001. That video aired constantly. “Beautiful (You Are)” was a much better song — and also appeared on IMx’s previous album too.
After decade long run, IMx called it quits following this album. Marques Houston, thanks to his lead vocals and acting roles on shows like “Sister, Sister,” immediately transitioned into a moderately successful solo career. To say I wasn’t fond of his last project is an understatement but he’s had his share of post IMx-hits.
Romeo renamed himself Young Rome and embarked on a (thankfully) short-lived rap career. The singles “After Party” and “Freaky” entertained the 106 & Park crowd at least. Also, it was around this time that he revealed the secret of his eye patch: Allegedly Brandy — yes, THAT Brandy — hit him in the eye and detached his retina. At least that’s what the Internet told me. These days, Rome works with MH on film projects.
LDB had gone into semi-retirement, doing a little production work on the side.
Lord only knows where Half-Pint is but I bet he probably has a IQ of like 300 and is running a Fortune 500 company. Or, he could just be spending his days listening to On Our Worst Behavior over and over again. Do you, playa.
Chris Stokes went on to burden us with such great acts as B2K and fine cinema like “You Got Served.” And no, I ain’t even gonna dig into those long-standing and horrid allegations he’s faced for years — this post is long enough as it is. Consult Google for that.
Should They Come Back?: Well, a comeback has been in the works for awhile, with the group even reuniting at at show in 2013. But their alleged new album has yet to materialize and I’m not losing any sleep waiting for it. With MH running out of steam and the other members being in limbo for a decade now, I don’t really see the point.
But maybe I’m just being a hater. If it’s one thing Immature/IMx mastered, it was the art of reinvention. It wouldn’t shock me to see them catch fire again. Plus, those college kids who drooled over Immature when they were kids must be grandmas by now. I bet they’ll drop that sweet disposable income on their creepy crushes.