Keeping me looking forward to another day since 1991.
I told you I like New Jack Swing.
Hi-Five. New Jack Swing was pretty aggressively marketed to people of all ages. Boyz II Men and Bell Biv DeVoe were aimed more toward the older teen and adult market; ABC was formed for the tweenybopper crowd. Hi-Five, along with Tevin Campbell, met them in the middle.
When their first album, Hi-Five, was released in 1990, lead singer Tony Thompson was fifteen years old. “I Like the Way,” penned by the ever-ubiquitous NJS guru Teddy Riley and friends, was perfect for the pubescent crowd. The ‘kissing game,’ whatever that was, acknowledged the raging hormones of their audience without letting things get too risqué. In that most optimistic of teenagerly ways, this new summer romance will spiral on indefinitely, one day at a time.
[If you’d like to read the insider scoop on the group’s formation and first album, go here.]
Of all the songs I’ve posted about thus far, I have to be honest and say that this one is still on regular rotation. For all that Tony Thompson was around fourteen when this song was recorded, his voice has a maturity and flexibility to it that bore a lot of promise at the time. It is unfortunate indeed that the group didn’t quite survive the transition from NJS to harder urban material a la R Kelly or the soul of Toni Braxton and Mary J Blige, etc. The group’s other singles weren’t quite as memorable, though five others hit the top ten of the US R&B charts and several made their way onto the top soundtracks of the early 90s (Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, Sister Act 2). Hi-Five disbanded in 1994.
It would have been interesting to have seen Tony Thompson’s solo career develop, but unfortunately, he only released on album to minor success in 1995. He tried to reconfigure the group with four new singers in 2005, releasing an album in 2006. The album, having been released on Thompson’s own independent label, didn’t get much press. Sadly, Thompson passed away the following year, apparently due to an (accidental?) overdose of freon from an air conditioner. Huffing is bad, folks.