I want to start by saying I am NOT a Babyface fan. Now that that’s out the way, I am however a fan of good music and Babyface has brought a lot of that during his reign as an R&B go-to hit maker.
We are in a world of comparisons and alternatives. No greater example of this is our world of entertainment. Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett, Lakers or Celtics, the first Darren or the second one, trust me we can go on for hours like this (Fun fact… Elizabeth Montgomery was always close to a Dick, both Darren’s real names were Dick). And in R&B music during the early 90’s it was the same. Either you were a fan of Boyz II Men, Jodeci or the groups who fell on either side of those two. H-Town was more like Jodeci while Shai was closer to Boyz II Men. Then there was Mariah or Whitney, which was the big thing back then. However it all comes down to Teddy Riley or Baby Face.
Both men were good at their jobs of making hits during the late 80’s to early 90’s, but Baby face was a bit more sophisticated with his music While Teddy was a “get the club popping” type of producer who could make you a star, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds could make you over and breathe life into your career. Both men had a huge hand in Bobby Brown’s “not ever looked at as a comeback” album “Don’t Be Cruel”. I say that because his first solo tryout was pure garbage with that single “I Need a Girlfriend” on it. The second time around Face and Mr. New Jack Swing gave him crazy hits that made him so big you forgot he was the second vocalist of New Edition And while Teddy Riley was making new stars and hits it was Babyface who sparked a new ray of light on The Whispers with that “Rock Steady” single as well as a few slow jams.
The sad point seems to be I think no one will every truly give Babyface his due for bringing artists a new beginning Look at Mary J before “I’m not Gon’ Cry.” She was an R&B chick singing over Hip Hop beats. You know how many chicks were in that lane? Yeah Mary can say she was the first to make it a popular trend but we all know Dr. Dre had Michel’le doing it before “What’s the 411?” even dropped. Mary was there along side Miss Jones, and Monifa and a few other chicks. Miss Jones can’t keep a gig for whatever reason and I hope Monifa isn’t high on some shit wit her sexy ass. Nonetheless, they all fell by the waist side compared to Mary not because Puff (oops Diddy) was guiding her but because of Babyface. He opened the door to the possibility that she could do more than just sing over well known Hip Hop beats. Older music fans started to follow her after that song, shit that song was the highlight of the whole “Waiting to Exhale” soundtrack. Radio played it hard no matter how much the label threw other songs out as singles. And it wasn’t just her he helped like that, look at Boyz II Men and their record breaking “End of the Road”. Before that song you knew Boyz II Men as a group of dudes who harmonized and wore button ups with ties and shorts. Yeah “Goodbye to Yesterday” was the shit but does anyone know many of their other songs from that album? Matter of fact, where is anyone else from that crew they were part of? ABC? Shit, I saw something a year or so ago on YouTube that they were making a DVD about they career. Not sure if someone told them being a cute gimmick with (from what I know) to be one album under their belt, counts as a career but hell they did that much so fuck me right? But that song on the Boomerang soundtrack opened the door for Boyz II Men to break out of the gimmick they had been given and be recognized as real singers.
Now before people read this and start to question who I mentioned and say “what about Toni?” I will say he put her on the planet during the beginnings of the 90’s. She, Jon B. and After 7 can go there too as far as acts he made hot. Hell he had Outkast and TLC signed to his label as well as a young as fuck Usher. And while most of the artists he worked with are still doing something good somewhere his other side of the coin, Mr. Riley had less success. Yeah Teddy had Michael Jackson’s, “Dangerous” being a must have in the hood, but most of the acts he dealt with left him alone for reasons we may never really know.
I always thought Babyface’s sound was too easy to spot, at some point any track he did was like the last track he did. Do I think that’s why he wasn’t a go-to guy anymore… nope not at all. Music changed and with him going thru a divorce he wasn’t in the mix anymore. The last big thing I know of him doing was Soul Food. The movie and soundtrack were great but between that and the Tony Rich Project, it was like Babyface just fell out of sight. You had the Neo-Soul movement taking hold a bit and R. Kelly was now the go-to guy with no real competition out there at all. Now, some of the artists he made hot are still doing it big and others are has-beens. You have Mary J. still doing it big even if I can’t stand the newer shit, Usher is still in demand a bit and Outkast are one Hip Hops most creative groups. I know Jon B. still tours, small club, he did a show at some hole in the wall here in KC a few weeks ago. LaFace records is no more and LA Reid was running shit at Arista before going to Def Jam then Island and now I think sorts mail for Interscope, Left Eye passed and TLC was lost, Toni went under the knife and did some plays but was never a real big hit for years. We all know about Bobby and the former Mrs. Brown, who is working on a comeback, good for her. Babyface did make a comeback himself to only as Skillz put it “look just like Musiq”, and the song sucked too. But he had a good run and when you think of the late 80’s and early 90’s he is right there with more than enough songs to fill anyone’s play list.
You got my thanks for making some hot classics Face, (like he’ll find this site and reply with a thank you and shit).