LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 07: Recording artist/producer Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds perfoms onstage during the Soul Train Weekend Concert 2015 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on November 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images)
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Everlasting Whip Appeal: Babyface Talks New Music, Songwriting And Adele vs Jazmine Sullivan

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Edmonds.

Every love song ever played at a family barbecue made in the late 80s, and 90s that makes  your aunties say "You don't know nothin' bout this here!" was written by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.

The man behind classics such as Tevin Campbell's "Can We Talk" Toni Braxton's "Love Should've Brought You Home" and Whitney Houston's "Exhale" (Shoop Shoop) are just a fraction of the 11-time Grammy-award winner, singer-songwriter and producer's expansive yet undeniably relatable catalogue.

The recipient of the 2015 Soul Train's Legend Award proved his worth in melodies and lyrics when R&B's greats, old and new, paid tribute to the man who's ability to pen classic love songs is as natural as our necessity to breathe. After an eight year break, thankfully, Babyface got an itch and decided to return to music with the release of his forthcoming album Return of The Tender Lover. With the lead single “We’ve Got Love,” Babyface serves up a classic love song for the romantics in the world.

Just days ahead of his album release, Babyface spoke with VIBE about the importance of melody and honesty in a song,  the real meaning behind Rolling Stone's famous "Brown Sugar" and weighed in on those Adele and Jazmine Sullivan comparisons that's been floating around.

Peep what Babyface...excuse me, Mr. Edmonds, had to say about it all.

VIBE: What was the first song you wrote before you became famous?
Babyface: The first song I wrote was called “Here I Go Falling In Love” I wrote it in the sixth grade.

Who were you in love with in the sixth grade?
Rhonda Newbalt.

Whoa! You remember her name?
Yeah (Laughs)

Does she know you wrote a song about her in the sixth grade?
I don’t know if she knows that, but I think she knows I had a crush on her.

The lyrical landscape for music has changed. In 2000, Jagged Edge’s most popular song was “Let’s Get Married” then in 2014 “These Hoes Ain’t Loyal” became a hit. How do you think your song “We’ve Got Love” will fare with the masses?
It will fare with those that still believe love is a positive as a opposed to a negative. The truth is “These Hoes Ain’t Loyal” I think the song is kind of catchy, but it’s not completely about always what it says, as opposed to how it feels.

Do you believe the lyrics are important, or the vocalist conveying those lyrics are more important?
Lyrics can be important, but ultimately what pulls people in on a song is melody and the tracks, and the way music feels. You know Rolling Stones song "Brown Sugar?"

Well, I haven’t heard that song.
Yeah, you’ve heard it before. People love to sing along with it. It’s one of their classics. But most people think they’re singing about a fine black girl.

I've never heard that song, please don’t judge me Mr. Edmonds.
(laughs) It’s one of their most famous song that both black and white people love and they sing along with. Most people think it’s just about fine black girls. But let me just read you the lyrics, which is…one second…

Gold coast slave ship, bound for cotton fields.
Sold in a market down in New Orleans
Skydog slaver knows he’s doing alright
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Wait, that’s about slavery.
Yes. This is a very famous song and a song that everybody sings along with, black and white and they don’t know that that’s what its about, and why is that? Because it feels so good. It sounds so good. The melody is so nice that you don’t even really pay attention to that part of it, and you love the artist. So when you think about how records are done, and those records that become popular, sometimes it’s about the melody and it’s about having the right chorus and it hits you right. Just because you sing along with it doesn’t mean you agree with the politics of it.

So Mr. Edmonds, what is needed to write a love song, and what's needed to write a break up song because you’ve done both.
In anything, it’s all about honesty. Is it coming from an honest place? Is it believable coming from whoever’s voice is saying it? Do I believe you? Do I believe that you felt that? That you’ve gone through it? Can you make me believe it? Once you’ve connected in that way, then you’re that much closer to selling the song and it becoming a hit song because of that.

For your song “We’ve Got Love” It’s about a couple who has weathered many storms. Is that coming from an honest place for you?
I think it goes beyond the couple. We’ve all gone through things. The truth is, we’ve all gone through something in this country, everywhere. We’ve been struggling for a long time, but the one thing that seems to cool us out a bit, or get us through tough times is love. That’s the things that seems to make anything better. So I think it’s a bigger story than just a couple, and more than anything.

You have 26 number one hits, you've had 125 top 10 R&B hits, you know what you’re doing. Have you ever encountered writer’s block?
Of course!

How do you counter it?
You just don’t do anything (laughs) You wait it out. If you can’t come up with anything, you just stop writing for that moment. The good news is even with having writer's block, today there are so many things to write about, to get inspired from by having conversation with people, especially when you're dealing with things that are as universal as love. The trick is, are you going to find the right melody and hit the right keys to make it special?

Last question, there are a lot of people who believe Adele, despite her talent, and many accolades, a part of her success has a lot to do with her skin color and then you have Jazmine Sullivan who's equally as talented and can hit just as many notes but isn't as successful. What's your take on that?
I think it's unfair to compare Jazmine Sullivan to Adele. I think they're two different kinds of artist. Let's take color out of it. Do you like Adele's songs? Do you like what she sings about? Adele ultimately did well in such a large way because she effects everybody, and the way that she writes seems to be popular music, not because of her skin color but because she writes great music and it's popular in that way. Now, when you add all that on and the skin color you say 'Oh, that's unique, I didn't know it was this girl.' No different then when Elvis Presley started singing and we found out he was a white man, so it certainly made for an interesting story. When Adele gets a hold of something it turns into something else, but the reality is, it's about her music, her emotion and her pain. I think Jazmine Sullivan is amazing and I think she sounds great, whether I can say Jazmine Sullivan has written the Adele songs? I don't know if I can say that. Whether at this point she has written copyrights like Adele has written, I can't really say that. Or if Adele had of done one of Jazmine Sullivan's songs that it would've taken off. I think that with Adele, and that's why I wouldn't compare because Adele really writes from personal experience and all that stuff, and her pain and all of that goes into her records, and that's what makes her stuff real. What did I start the whole conversation off with? Honesty Really honest, and you feel it.

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Last Sunday, Minaj took the stage as a surprise guest for week one of Ariana Grande’s headlining set at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music Festival. It’s unclear if she will hit the stage when Grande returns to perform for week two of Coachella on April 21.

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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

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With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

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The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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