Soul Food: The Best R&B of 2000

As the first release from Babyface's movie studio, Soul Food was an auspicious beginning -- a rich, multi-faceted film that captured the complexities and emotions of a contemporary urban black family that never lapses into stereotypes. It was a minor gem, as is Babyface's soundtrack. Like his work on Waiting to Exhale, the soundtrack for Soul Food is a sampler of mainstream urban styles, featuring some ballads, some swingbeat, and some hip-hop. It's all tied together by his gift for melodic, well-crafted songs and production. Babyface is one of the few producers and songwriters who can function entirely on commercial terms and never seem crass. Nearly every track on Soul Food works, whether it's the hip-hop mix of Blackstreet's "Call Me," Total's rap "What About Us," the urban soul of Dru Hill's "We're Not Making Love More" or Boyz II Men's epic ballad "A Song for Mama." The album tracks from Xscape, En Vogue, Tony Toni Tone, Milestone, and Lil' Kim & Puff Daddy all meet the same high standards, which means Soul Food is one of the best records in Babyface's catalog. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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