Because Babyface is doing double duty as both movie and musical producer, a lot of people are salivating over the potential of the soon-to-be-released film Soul Food. Particularly people in the music business. With ingredients that include such platinum powerhouses as Blackstreet, Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, and Sean ”Puffy” Combs, it shouldn’t be long before Music From the ‘Soul Food’ Motion Picture can boast ”millions served.”
Don’t hold your breath for another Waiting to Exhale, however. Even though Soul Food is full of fresh grooves and tasty hooks, it lacks the focus that made Exhale such a breathtaking album. It also doesn’t have the advantage of having only one songwriter-producer, as Babyface shares those duties with Teddy Riley, Jermaine Dupri, Timbaland, and others.
It’s no wonder, then, that Soul Food seems more like a smorgasbord than a single-course soundtrack. There’s a little bit of everything here, from salty rap to sweet soul balladry — even a few leftovers, thanks to Puffy’s ”Don’t Stop What You’re Doing” (a carryover from No Way Out) and the Earth, Wind & Fire chestnut ”September.”
Most of the outside help comes on the funk front, with Blackstreet adding spice to their ”Call Me (If You Need a Fix)” remix, while Total’s ”What About Us” rides a groove as thick and sweet as molasses. But this being a Babyface project, the ballads are the real treat. Though Boyz II Men make an ideal appetizer with ”A Song for Mama,” a mother-love tribute that’s as wholesome as apple pie, it’s the gorgeous emotionalism of Dru Hill’s ”We’re Not Makin Love No More” that will most likely leave listeners calling for seconds. B+