For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Second Listen Sunday :Immature, The Journey
As New Edition, HI-Five, and countless others know, for a music group, one of the most challenging things about coming into the music industry as a bubblegum act is deciding when to mature in your music. The trio of Batman, Romeo, and LDB, better known as Immature, were nearing that time when their fourth album, 1997’s The Journey, arrived in stores on September 23, 1997.
As an adult, looking back at Immature’s career from the start, the marketing and lyrics were always a bit risqué. Thus, a transition to more adult material wouldn’t be that difficult for the group. The group’s primary songwriter and producer, Chris Stokes, linked up with Brion James for the album’s lead single, “I’m Not A Fool.” The smooth ballad showcased Marques Houston’s maturing tenor.
One of the most shocking things about hearing “I’m Not a Fool” at age 16 was finding out the group member LDB could sing, and was more than just someone in the background. Quite honestly, Stokes should have given Romeo and LDB more chances to sing lead as both brothers could carry a tune.
For the second single, “Give up the Ghost,” the group linked up with Bizzy Bone, the youngest member of the Cleveland rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. On the one hand, I still have no idea what they were singing about in this song, but the groove was infectious, and Bizzy did drop a fresh Hot 16.
Before I get into the final single, I have to mention the promo single “Tamkia,” which’d received significant airplay here in the DMV as I headed into my sophomore year of high school. Hard-core fans of Immature surely remember the group performing the song on the sitcom Sister, Sister, which co-starred Houston.
The final single from The Journey was “Extra, Extra.” Written and produced by R&B legend, “Extra, Extra” was the song where I started to take Immature seriously as they began to mature. Quite honestly, if the group had added a fourth member around this time with a baritone or bass voice, similar to how New Edition brought in Johnny Gill, who knows how much more successful the results would’ve been.
The rest of The Journey is typical nineties R&B staples. Solid album tracks arrive in the form of “Don’t Ever Say Never,” “24/7”, and “Where Do We Go”. There’s filler and trend-chasing with “Ooh We Baby and “I’ll Give You Everything” and an underrated song, “All Alone.” Similar to “Please Don’t Go” from the group’s previous album, “All Alone” was dedicated to Houston’s mother, who had passed away after a cancer battle.
I still remember reading the article in Black Beat magazine about her passing. While I doubt that Houston will ever perform the song again live, should Immature decide to tour, I do believe that it’s one of the more robust vocals in his post solo catalog.
While The Journey wouldn’t fully set up a transition for Immature to Urban AC material, it’s a solid addition to the catalog of the nineties bubble gum R&B.
Final Grade: B
Top Songs: The singles and “All Alone.”
The Journey is available on all streaming platforms
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.