Which is more important the singer or the songwriter? Questions like this are bound to ignite a debate. Some entertainers need not worry about this because they are well adept in both. Take Jazmine Sullivan for instance. Before she became a star in her own right, she was racking up writing credits. Since Sullivan’s debut, Fearless, dropped in 2008, she’s written songs for Chrisette Michele and Fantasia. Monica’s comeback single, “Everything To Me,” was also penned by the Philly starlet. While women are making money off of crafting hits, songwriting is dominated by men. Two of the most notable singer-songwriters of our time are Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Ne-Yo.
There isn’t one person on this planet who doesn’t like a Babyface track. Whether it’s a saccharine love song to express your feelings to your mate or a soul stirring message song, Babyface has done it. How could you not love the genius that introduced the world to Toni Braxton and TLC? Babyface broke into the business by playing in the bands, Manchild and The Deele. While he was still in The Deele, he wrote Midnight Star’s hit, “Slow Jam.” The demand for Edmond’s songs came pouring in consequently. His songs have been recorded by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Bobby Brown. Edmonds’ talent has been recognized by the Grammy Awards ten times. He won Producer Of The Year three years in a row from 1995 to 1997. Besides Quincy Jones, no other black record producer has been honored as much as he has. As Edmonds has followed the path blazed by Quincy Jones, a new crop of singer-songwriters are following Babyface’s footsteps. One of those singers would be the Las Vegas born and bred artist, Shaffer “Ne-Yo” Smith.
When asked out of Prince or Babyface, who is his writing most akin to, Ne-Yo replied, “I’m Babyface!” Their love for melody and attention to song structure and background detail set them apart from the rest. Whereas Babyface’s songs dominated the pop and R&B charts from the late 80s into the early 2000s, Ne-Yo has been working since 2003. His first song placement was Marques Houston’s “That Girl.” Smith’s big break came when Mario released “Let Me Love You” in 2004. The mid-tempo groove hit number one on three of BillBoard’s charts. Since then, Ne-Yo released three chart topping discs. His third effort, The Year Of The Gentleman, was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammys. He lost big award and went consoled by his wins in the categories of Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Since both of these guys have contributed to the soundtrack of our lives, The Urban Daily wanted you to tell us who is the better of the two. Babyface had your older siblings’ R&B on lock and Ne-Yo has done well with the teens and twenty somethings of the new millennium. Ne-Yo’s tracks have focused on the various aspects of love and Babyface has written songs covering every aspect of life. Who’s the better craftsman? Have Ne-Yo’s songs impacted fans’ lives more than Babyface’s? Who will leave the most lasting impression on the music industry when they decide to pursue other ventures? Sound off in the comments.
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