Babyface – “There She Goes”

Released: 4.17.01

Peak: #31

When it comes to the Neptunes, I’m agnostic if not apostate. Something in the snide assurance of their mastery rankles–when they team with Jay-Z on a track like “I Just Wanna Luv U (Give It 2 Me),” the ‘Tunes’ tunes come off as shiny and cold and well-designed as the fender on a new Benz, and just as inviting of a hocked loogie. Elsewhere, the precision of their reconstituted funk thrums with a mild neurosis, in need of a Justin Timberlake to synthesize its rhythmic jerk into sexual excitement, or else a Mystikal to send the works tumbling into full lunacy.

Then there’s Kenny Edmonds, such a smooth fella he could make a ghetto house seem classy. “There She Goes” is nothing fancy, just a precise, funky, masterful R&B groove, by Neptunes standards practically a throwaway, But “nothing fancy” is the state which every Babyface hit aspires to–for him, in fact, this is some insistent, high-energy shit– and rarely do collaborators strike such a balance between two disparate aesthetics. The production elements fit together perfectly, as when those staccato chords seem to release a spray of electronic confetti; even Pharrell’s falsetto, which would come to grate as it accumulated delusions of stardom, blends right in.

Essential to Babyface’s charm is its underlying consolation that he views affluence as a means of assuring comfort rather than excess as a means of exerting power. A bourgeois illusion if you insist; maybe we are indeed all pimps and hoes. But he called a later album, and its attendant hit, Grown & Sexy, and would that more R&B singers didn’t view those adjectives in eternal opposition. In an age of pop relativism, where somebody somewhere can be located who claims to hear emotional grit in the most overblown wind-tunnel divas or to discern a persona in the most anonymous ingénue, Babyface occupies a spot all his own: Dude may be the last critically underrated R&B hit-maker.

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Comments

  • revnardintheplace  On February 13, 2010 at 2:35 am

    What’s good, I made a remix of Pharrell’s Number One without Kanye, lemme know what u think and if you like what u hear check me out on youtube just type in revnardintheplace in the search bar

    • Coltin  On January 8, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Until I found this I thguoht I’d have to spend the day inside.

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