Tevin Campbell’s “Can We Talk.” Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step.” Toni Braxton’s “You’re Making Me High.” Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together.” Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” and the list goes on even just taking a cursory glance at Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ extensive song credits. For over two decades, the 11-time Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and producer has not just been an architect of modern R&B but has synthesized himself into the fabric of the genre itself.
“I don't know that I have a particular favorite,” Babyface supplies when asked which of his hits he was most proud of. “Maybe I'm still trying to write that one. I haven't written that one yet.” Although, he admits that he didn’t expect “End of Road” to do as well as it did, which stayed atop the charts for a record 13 weeks in the summer of 1992.
“You finish a song and you hope that people can relate to it. You never know whether it's going to be the one. I just let it fall how it falls,” he says. “We wanted it to do well but you never know.”
Another unexpected success was his 2014 collaborative album with Toni Braxton, Love, Marriage & Divorce, which Babyface shared that he still has intentions of doing a sequel to. For now, the R&B legend is existing presently in the moment.
If there’s one thing that’s certain, his pen is still as sharp as ever. In March, he featured on rising R&B star Lucky Daye’s single, “Shoulda,” which samples Braxton’s classic “Love Shoulda Brought You Home.” He casually tossed out R&B starlets H.E.R and Summer Walker as two younger artists he’d like to work with.
“It's cool to work with younger artists. Then, at the same time, there might be artists that it would be cool to do music with [like] Adele at some point,” Babyface shares. Ultimately, it’s people that have passion in their voices that catches his eye. “That's what usually moves and excites me,” Babyface says.
Check out the rest of his 106&Park Mic Check episode to hear Babyface’s thoughts on writing from the heart, the one thing he learned amid the coronavirus pandemic, and why songwriting will always be his first love.