Immature – ‘Never Lie': Throwback Video of the Day
While a lot of young R&B groups spat out sappy ballads and pop-heavy tracks, the LA-based group Immature was one of the few acts that had their sights more contemporary and mature (no pun intended) content.
It was 1994, just two years after the release of their debut album, On Our Worst Behavior, and the group’s lead midtempo single, "Tear it Up," was a flop. Teeny-bopper R&B was changing: Aaliyah, an around the way girl with a mysterious aura, had teamed up with R. Kelly, creating a vibe that both kids and adults could enjoy, and TLC had traded in their condom-wearing getups for an image that was CrazySexyCool. While groups like Another Bad Creation faded out because they couldn't adjust to the change, Immature was determined to stay in the game for the long haul.
Immature’s original members — Marques "Batman" Houston and Jerome "Romeo" Jones—were only 13 by the time their sophomore album Playtyme is Over was released but had been through a lot in the music business: They signed to Virgin Records in 1991 but were dropped after their album had underperformed, and the groups original member Don "Half-Pint" Santos was removed from the group by his parents after the trio appeared in 1994's House Party III. Playtyme is Over marked a new beginning for the group, with a new deal with MCA, and Kelton "Little Drummer Boy" Kessee replacing Santos, they made a calculated decision to shed their colorful oversized outfits and kiddy lyrics for mature themes in hopes of being taken more seriously as a musical trio. “That album was too bubblegum," Jones told the LA Times. "It was just for kids. Our image was for kids too . . . weird clothes, a bright, colorful look. But a lot of people weren't relating to the look or the record.” What made immature unique compared to their contemporaries is that each member played at least one instrument and the group had perfected the art of harmonizing — a hard thing for teenage boys who were experiencing puberty to do. "People think we're too young to be good singers, but we fool them all the time," Kessee said to the LA Times. "We're young, but we've had a lot of experience."
Playtyme’s lead single “Never Lie” was accompanied by a music video directed by Keith Ward (TLC’s "Baby, baby, baby," Shai’s "Baby I’m Yours"), which featured the boys singing next to a waterfall, and dressed in neuteral tones, a far cry from how the group was orignally introduced in 1992. It also introduced Kessee as the official new member of the group. The group was already going from boys to men and was determined to crossover to a more adult audience. "The new album is less bubblegum, something kids and adults can relate to,” Jones told LA Times. “It's not immature; it's more mature."
Houston would become known for his nasal falsetto voice, as he sang about the heartaches that come with being a teen. “On the phone, when you were here. Laughing and joking, crying and sulking,” he sang on the second verse. The risk of making more adult, emotional content paid off. “Never Lie” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 100, and went gold, selling 700,000 copies. By this time, the girls had finally come knocking, or rather, running and screaming, and it was a new experience the boys were still trying to maneuver. “Their hormones are just starting to kick in,” the group’s then-manager and songwriter, Chris Stokes, told People magazine. “They’re really amazed by the girl thing.”
Immature was still finding their way, and though it was overwhelming at times, the music video was part of a bigger worldview, and a mature step in the right direction.