The master learns from his students throughout Girls Night Out, a project full of soulful tunes conducted by one of the most multifaceted maestros of our time. Laced with soulful tracks from Kehlani, Ella Mai, and Queen Najia, Girls Night Out brings out the best of every songstress with Babyface taking on a supportive role with rich vocals and his legendary pen. Birthed from his infamous Verzuz battle with Teddy Riley, Babyface credits the Instagram platform and the youth for providing the intention to humbly share his talents with the Tik-Tok generation. “I went to Walgreens and as I was in there, this younger girl says, ‘Are you Babyface?’” recalled the 11-time Grammy winner to the Associated Press. “[She says,] I didn’t listen to you before, but I watched Verzuz and I really liked a lot of the things. And so, I’m a fan now.’”
“This was the perfect way to still be able to reach them without being stuck in the ‘90s or giving just what my core audience usually would like, which doesn’t go as far today,” he also shared with You Know I Got Soul. “The landscape has changed. If you can, you can change with that landscape.” Part of the changing landscape included switching up his collaborative style. While it would be easy to compare the production stylings of this album to the 1995 Waiting To Exhale soundtrack featuring songs penned for Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Aretha Franklin, and Brandy, Babyface wrote alongside Sevyn Streeter, Baby Tate, and Ari Lennox to get a feel of their respected creative process. The outcome is a transcendent journey into his catalog with samples (“Whip Appeal,” “Soon As I Get Home” and “Can We Talk” to name a few) intertwined in various takes on today’s takes on situationships, self-love, and the beauty in having a great time with the baddies.
There are moments in Girls Night Out where Babyface morphs into the sultry voice of reason for album standouts like “Whatever” with Tink and “Simple” with Coco Jones. On the latter, it’s the advice around vulnerability while falling in love that pulls the heartstrings. “Don’t try to be smart, playin’ your cards,” they sing in unison. “Put ’em all on the table/ Maybe ’cause that’s how God made it/ He’s got his ways, but you got your ways, too.”
But he also takes a step back and learns a thing or two from the splashy “Liquor,” with Ari Lennox, and the dancehall-centric “One Good Thing” with Amaarre. Lennox’s vocals are simply irresistible, including her demands for a top-shelf gentleman. “No rocks, no blend, straight up, just you,” she belts. “I need one hundred from my man, he can’t be eighty-proof.”
Girls Night Out isn’t just an album for the ladies or R&B lovers; it serves as a masterclass in collaboration with a legend who continues to wow us decade after decade. — Desire Thompson
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify | TIDAL