You've seen him in the video for his Neptunes-produced "There She Goes." That new Babyface is some sort of character, isn't he?
Obviously, he can no longer be called a pretty boy at 42, and his low-cut beard shields some of that prettiness. Instead, with his woolly afro replacing that half-flattop-half-process hairdo and his new rock-star threads (witness the pearly-white tank top), Face or Kenneth Edmonds, as he signs his tax returns has transformed his image with new-millennium cool.
On September 11, when his new LP, Face 2 Face, drops, fans will get to hear a little of his vintage sounds as well as music to match his image facelift chock-full-o' curses and Ebonics.
"After all the sh-- he put you through, why wouldn't you want to leave?" he asks on "Lover and a Friend," co-produced by Babyface and Buckwild of Black Rob's "Whoa!" fame. "Girl, I got mad love for you, why can't you be with me?" he continues in a high-pitched voice reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield. Meanwhile, Buckwild provides a funky soundscape filled with horns and bottom-heavy bass, similar to a '70s midtempo soul groove.
"What If" is one of those big, heartbroken-lover-man ballads we're more accustomed to hearing from Babyface. Here, he wishes he could turn back the hands of time after bumping into his ex-girlfriend. "What if we were wrong about each other?" he pines. "What if that was s'posed to be my house that you go home to every day? How can you be sure that things are better?"
The Neptunes' second production offering, "Stressed Out," is another party anthem, with the duo's Pharrell Williams adding his pimpish, high-pitched voice in the mix and helping Face on the hook: "It will happen/ If it's meant to be/ So don't stress out/ Things could work out, baby."
Babyface turns O.G. to give knowledge to a hotheaded youngster on "Baby's Mama," featuring Snoop Dogg and produced by the Megahertz (Three
Later in the album, the multimedia renaissance man continues his schooling, giving a naïve girlfriend advice on the jazzy "How Can U Be Down." Face gets caught up in an attraction that's not quite fatal, but unhealthy nonetheless, on the track, as his lover's best friend falls for him. "I told the girl no, no, no, but she still came knockin' at my door," he sings. "I told her to go, go home, but that made her even want me more."
It's the tank top, Face no one can resist.
The Face 2 Face track list, according to Arista Records:
- "Baby's Mama" (featuring Snoop Dogg)
- "There She Goes"
- "What If"
- "U Should Know"
- "Outside In/Inside Out"
- "Lover and a Friend"
- "How Can U Be Down"
- "Still in Love With U"
- "Don't Take It So Personal"
- "Stressed Out"
- "Work It Out"
- "Wish U Were My Girl"
- "I Keep Callin' "
- "With Him"
- "I Just Wanna"