January 15, 1996 12:00 PM

Kris Kross

With pubescent newcomers like 16-year-old Brandy and 15-year-old Monica crowding the charts, R&B is starting to look like child’s play. Some teen acts, like the over-coiffed Immature, revel in their youth, but others, like former kiddie rappers Kris Kross, seem too anxious to leave the playground behind.

On We Got It (MCA), Immature’s trio of 14-year-olds swoon like ardent pups in love rather than barking like dogs in heat. And the group’s slightly dissonant harmonies on hip-hoppers like “We Got It” and “Just a Little Bit” provide welcome respite from the stiff crooning that makes many R&B vocal groups sound numb and number.

In stark contrast to Immature’s chaste, youthful approach, Kris Kross’s Chris Kelly and Chris Smith—both 13 when “Jump,” their 1992 debut single, leapfrogged to No. 1 for eight weeks, and now 17—come across as arrogant, oversexed brats. Although producer Jermaine Dupri’s slinky mid-tempo grooves on Young, Rich and Dangerous (Ruffhouse/Columbia), the duo’s third effort, simmer nicely, the rapping twosome lower their voices and boast about their looming manhood as if they need to convince themselves that they really are grown. Then they try to lure a nubile groupie into a ménage à trois in one freaky skit called “It’s a Group Thang.” Sorry, boys, but that ain’t no way for responsible grownups to act.

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