Throwback Thursday Album Review: Imajin, Imajin
Immature was the prominent R&B boy band of the mid to late nineties featuring members who couldn't legally vote. As Immature was preparing to mature and head into a more age-appropriate R&B, a new group was in the wings, ready to take their slot.
Imajin burst on the scene with their debut single "Shorty (You Keep Playin' with My Mind" feat. Keith Murray in 1998. The debut single peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 20 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and a great introduction. Imajin's self-titled debut was released on October 26th, 1999.
Imajin kept the up-tempo vibe going with the second single, "No Doubt," and this is where I started to take the group seriously. The video highlighted the essence of young love without being overly suggestive. "No Doubt" also showcased the group's musicianship skills and their sleek choreography. "Flava" was the album's third single and found the group paying homage to black women. Again, the members avoided crass material. Group member Olamide Faison leads the song with a swag that would make his predecessors, such as Tony Thompson and Ralph Tresvant, proud.
Similar to most debut albums from R&B boy bands, Imajin keeps the album under twelve songs. Tracks such as "You're the Bomb," "I'm Feelin You" come off as filler and haven't aged particularly well. Furthermore, DeVante Swing produced "I Don't Wanna Play Basketball," and "Fresh" are two of the weaker songs in the talented producer's catalog. However, the group's potential is evident. Primarily due to the sharing of the lead vocals between the members.
While the first two lead singles were dope, I felt Imajin's strengths were in the ballads. "Love Letter" is the perfect song for any youngster who couldn't find the words to say to someone they were interested in. While "Missing You" and "Ever Again" sum up the feelings of teenage heartbreak. Quite honestly, had the group omitted the filler tracks and added "Something about Love" from the In Too Deep soundtrack. Alternatively, they could've included their cover of Stevie Wonder's "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer," and they would have a stronger overall debut. Nevertheless, Imajin's 1999 debut is better than most grown men releasing music today.
Fans know that one thing that set Imajin apart from other boy bands was each member played an instrument. My good friend and soul singer Vocal Iz described Imajin as a legit band in Mint Condition's vein, mishandled by the label. In hindsight, I agree that the record label had their own R&B version of Hanson, and the record label should've promoted them.
The late nineties saw a plethora of pop boy bands on the airwaves. While we all know Sync and Backstreet Boys' names, other R&B boy bands never got a fair chance to shine, and Imajin is one such group.
Final Grade: B
Top Tracks: "Shorty (You Keep Playin' With My Mind)," "No Doubt," "Flava," and "Love Letter"
Imajin is available on all streaming platforms.