‘Cool’ perf puts Babyface in spotlight

Despite his enormous success behind the scenes, Babyface — aka Kenny Edmonds — has decided to brave the glare of the spotlight by releasing his second solo album, “For the Cool in You” (Epic), which hit stores last week.

The title track is already scoring big at pop and R&B radio.

Babyface and partners L.A. Reid and Daryl Simmons are one of the most successful producing teams in the music business. The trio has scored one accolade after another, including this year’s Grammy win for producer of the year.

Although it has been three years since Babyface was last on the charts as an artist via his debut, “Tender Lover,” the singer says he’s not trying to fulfill any deep-seated need to be recognized.

“I just felt it was time for another album,” he said. “I am a lot more into it this time because the album feels more like myself. It’s a lot closer to who I really am.”

Reid and Babyface also have been riding high with their own record label — La Face — which boasts successful releases by TLC and Toni Braxton. Their track record as producers and songwriters includes scoring chart-topping hits for Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill.

A triple-threat talent — singer, songwriter and producer — and the force behind 66 top-10 hits, Babyface (or Face, as he calls himself) resists the notion held by many that he has accomplished a great deal in the past nine years.

“Creatively, it has been a very short road,” Face said. “What kind of business do I have saying I’ve arrived? Look at Quincy (Jones) — that’s a career I’m impressed with.”

Face and Reid have both been in the news lately. The recently announced split between the two producers caused speculation the duo had a falling-out, which Face denies. “We’re just doing things separately for a while,” he said. And Reid testified at the Virgin Records/Paula Abdul civil trial about the team’s work on the song “Opposites Attract,” claiming Face doubled vocals for Bobby Brown.

“If that’s what he said, he misspoke,” Face said. “I sang the lead vocal line in the chorus, that’s all.”

Face said being an artist requires him to be more outgoing. “I’m basically a shy person,” he said. “Performing takes a certain kind of energy. Once I’m up there (performing) I’m fine. It’s getting there that’s tough.”

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